An interview with Tim Skold
by Scott Hefflon
The name of the band and your last name, as chance would have it, is Skold?
Actually the Swedish spelling has two dots over the o.
Oh, an umlaut. How cool.
That’s why we got rid of it. Too Motörhead.
A bit too heavy metal?
I get into a bit of the metal, but it gets a little tired. I think it’s about time someone did a Saxon tribute album.
Speaking of which, what is your musical background?
Well, I spent a lot of time in a band called Shotgun Messiah…
No shit, what did you play?
At first I was the bassist, then I was the singer…
Wait, the blond guy, Tim Tim, with all the puffy blond hair and bracelets and shit?
Rock. I’ve got two CDs.
Really? Which two?
The first one, with “Shout it Out” and the second one with, um, the second one.
So you didn’t see the end?
No. What happened?
See, I’d gotten my first keyboard sampler when I first came to America, so I’ve been making an electronic racket for a long time. I was listened to Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Zodiac Mindwarp, and obnoxious shit like that. I never really had a chance to incorporate that in the band.
Shotgun Messiah had a bit by the end, didn’t it?
We had a few distorted vocals, and odd sound bites every now and then, but nothing to the extreme that I really wanted to take it. That didn’t happen ’til the final album.
What was the name, label, and year of the final album?
It was the same label, Relativity, and that was the dilemma. The bassist and the drummer were gone, it was just me and the guitar player (Harry Coty) by 1993. We had the option of either taking a nice chunk of money we were entitled to, and obligated to for producing another Shotgun Messiah album, or… But we had to do it under the name Shotgun Messiah. That name had been so twisted and distorted, we wanted nothing to do with it. We told the label it was going to be a completely different-sounding album, and they couldn’t have cared less. So we took the money, an insane amount of money actually, and made this really cool album, Violent New Breed. The response we got was, “You guys only made this album to get dropped.”
That album was a pretty far stretch from the early stuff?
Not really. We were marketed under strict control of the label. They were creating an image for us whether it was truthful or not. They wanted to sell albums and marketed us accordingly. We were heavily into song structure and rock melody, but I never felt an affiliation with Warrant, Poison, or the rest of those bands.
By 1993, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails were household names.
Yeah, well, shit, don’t ask me; I just make the albums, I don’t try to sell them. I don’t even understand the concept.
What have you been doing since 1993?
After Shotgun Messiah came to a halt, the guitarist and I parted company to see what else was out there. I wanted to see what I could do by myself, without band and label pressures. I’d actually been doing it for a while, but I’d never played it for anyone or shopped it around. I just did a bunch of songs and put them on a tape. I’ve always been interested in manipulating electricity and sound.
The bio said you’ve also done some remixing for Prong, Drown, and Nature.
I’m not really a big-name guy. I don’t make a lot of money, but I’ll take the track and see what I can do with it. I listen to a really wide variety of music, because if you break it down into components of sound, there are some really great production talents doing some amazing things in places where you might not expect. I like to combine some of the high-level, extremely fine-tuned experimental sounds with the straight-out guitar-into-amp, amp-into-mic, mic-onto-tape organic approach. I occasionally venture toward early Skinny Puppy, and try to suppress my ambient tendencies as much as possible; I’m a closet techno fan actually. But I’m primarily song-oriented. I think it was Never Mind the Bullocks that did it to me. I think ABBA writes great songs. And now, technology being as cheap and accessible as it is, you can pretty much record in your bathroom.
It still comes down to the same thing it’ll always come down to: Can you write a good song?
Exactly. Now that everyone has the same presets, the same packaged loop CD-ROMs, whammo!, you too can play White Zombie songs. But you don’t have Rob’s writing and voice. You still only have a fraction of what you need. Production has no relevance by itself. You’ll always need songs.
Did your time in Shotgun Messiah help you write these songs, or did it stunt your growth in any way?
First of all, I wouldn’t have been Stateside. I also wouldn’t have been down and out for several years on the streets of Hollywood. I would have had a nice little house with a nice picket fence and a happy wife somewhere in the Swedish countryside. So no, I wouldn’t have been able to write these songs.
So what were your choices? Goat herding? Paper mill?
Goats? You’ve been watching too many movies. I almost got stuck at the Volvo production plant. Oh yeah, you’ve got some nice Volvos driving around here with my initials carved into the cylinder block. I used to spit in them too, but that was more of a symbolic gesture than anything else. I still have one muscle in my back, my Volvo muscle, that hurts really bad every time I bend to pick something up. Yeah, it was hell, basically.
You’re in a situation with RCA where you can create the music and packaging to your ideals?
It’s RCA, Elvis’s label, for chrissake! There are some people who are pretty cool and all, but it’s a record label – they all sold their souls long ago. Evil, evil corporate shit, the same as any industry. I talk to as many people with the broad backgrounds within music as possible, and it’s all the same fucking thing. I go backstage to a rave hoping to find peace, love, drugs, and happiness, and I find the same backstabbing industry crap. It’s probably the same at a promotional event for Diet Pepsi; It’s the greed industry.
You just lost any potential Pepsi Generation sponsorship, huh?
There are only a few endorsements I’d do: Guns, alcohol, and chainsaws. That’s where I draw the line. No hot dogs, no soft drinks, no bullshit. Oops, I’d do cigarettes too. I forgot to mention them. Only the real, important things in life.