TLR interview: Tim Hicks

Tim Hicks (l) took time to talk to Six Shooter Country’s Paul Sammon.
Photo credit: Paul Sammon

Paul Sammon: Before he took to the stage for two sets at The Long Road on the Friday, I managed to sit Tim Hicks down for a few minutes and he gave me the low-down on recognising a good song, his new album and a new-found love of Oasis.

SSC: Thanks for seeing us. Can’t wait to hear your set and What A Song Should Do.

TH: It was the better part of a year when I couldn’t sing “Worthy of words on your tattoo” without welling up. It was such a bizarre thing to happen because it was the one and only time I left a writing session going, “We’ve got a hit song.” Like, every other time you just write songs, and everybody chimes in, “I think this one’s a hit. No, THIS one’s a hit.” You never really know but, in that moment, I knew we had a big song on our hands.

Tim Hicks tattoo
Tim shows off his tattoo. Photo: Paul Sammon

SSC: So, what’s the tattoo reference?

TH: I had a song in Canada called Forever Rebels. It was very personal, and it was the first time we released a single that had a lot of ‘me’ in it, y’know? I said, “If that song goes top ten, I’ll get that branding tattooed on my arm.” It was like number ten for three days or something, so I was like, “I’m doing it.” And I think of that every time I sing it, y’know?

SSC: Some friends have come with me, and I’ve introduced them to your music. I think the more country music you listen to; you can pick out the Canadian ones. You, High Valley, Shania. They’re good country and not too ‘pop’.

TH: Yeah, absolutely. Which sometimes is a problem for us cz we’re competing with the American acts and what I do is very rock oriented, sometimes to my detriment. Some songs don’t do so well because programming directors are saying, “It’s too rock for us; the guitars are too loud.” I mean, I have three guitar players in my band if you count me. I’m like, “C’mon guys?!” I kinda came into my own when Aldean was really making an impact and his band looked like a rock band. I guess as that kind of music comes en-vogue, in or out, we seem to do better or worse.

Tim Hicks

SSC: When you played C2C last time, you were with just your guitarist?

TH: Yeah, just me and Geoff Torrn, who lives in London. The whole goal of this entire thing for me, cz y’know it obviously costs a lot of money, and we don’t get the same kind of guarantees here that we do at home. It costs me money to do this, but my goal is to be able to cause enough of a stir that they’ll give me the budget to bring the band over. I know, if I can bring my guys, and do what we do, heads are gonna turn.

The feedback we got from C2C last year was that the headline acts and their big hits were ballad oriented. They want somebody with energy. That’s what we do in Canada. People know what they’re getting when they come to see us and if they don’t, they’re usually disappointed. *chuckles*

SSC: So, same again for TLR? You and Geoff?

TH: Yeah, so the two of us will do it very much like we did last year, and hopefully enough people will say “We wanna see that guy back again.”

SSC: Your latest album is Talk To Time. How’s that doing?

TH: Great. So, we’ve had three consecutive top ten hits from that record. The title track got to number six for me in Canada. I’m usually a number nine, number eight kinda guy, so number six is great. That song was a bit of a mind melt for me. I hadn’t cut an outside song for a long time, and I’d been writing my songs; something I’m very passionate about because the guys that I look up to, especially on the rock side of what I like; the Tom Pettys, the Rolling Stones, these guys weren’t cutting outside songs; they wrote their own material. So, it took me a while to wrap my head around because you’re pitched songs in a folder on a desktop that has maybe forty songs and they’re fully produced as if they’re on the radio already. So, they have a direction and Talk To Time was very pop country. I remember saying to my team, “Man, I love this song, and this is a hit, but for someone else.”

They kept coming back to it. “You gotta hear it again.” And my daughter was saying, “Daddy, you gotta play that Talk To Time song.” My wife too. My producer, Deric Ruttan, who’s also an artist, said “If you don’t cut it, I will.” So, I have a studio at my house, and I demo’d it myself and once I put it in my own lane, I fell in love with it. So, it put things in perspective for me that I don’t always have to be a writer if you find the right song.

There’s another outside cut on the album called Cost Of Life which we performed last night in Blackpool and I love it. Just goes to show.

SSC: It must be quite flattering for people to come to you and want you to record their song?

TH: Absolutely. In terms of Talk To Time, three heavyweight writers wrote that song [Josh Osborne, Ross Copperman & Shane McAnally] and I’m not sure how it slipped through the cracks of all the A-list American acts before it got to me. So, to have a song like that come my way, I think we’re just lucky.

SSC: Do you know what your set’s gonna be tonight?

TH: No. *Laughs* See, what I do now is, cz I have so many records, it’s like “What ARE we gonna do?” I’ll generally tell the guys, “These ones are in play.” But then I might skip a couple and we’ll do Stomping Ground or whatever. If I can catch the vibe, then I can tailor the set. That’s what happened last year at C2C. But I will say this. I’m getting hammered on social media, “Are you gonna do Stronger Beer?” I commented back to one saying, “There’ll never be a show when we don’t do Stronger Beer… Unless we’re in America.”

SSC: And then you sing it twice? So, what else can we expect?

TH: Oh yeah, absolutely. *Laughs* There’s certain ones that we always do, like Got A Feeling cz it moves and shakes, Loud, Stronger Beer, What A Song Should Do.

SSC: Because it’s a UK audience, will you do Don’t Look Back In Anger? It’ll go down well, I feel.

TH: Well yeah, maybe? I wasn’t sure if that was like, “Oh God, here comes another guy singing Oasis.” We were lucky to cut that on Campfire Troubadour. We knew we wanted to do a cover on that album and we were all talking, “What about this one, or this one or this one?” During Covid, I went down a real hard road of listening to 90’s music again and I re-discovered Oasis. Honestly, like, in the 90’s I was so into the Beatles that Oasis p***ed me off. I was like, “What are these guys doing? They’re not the Beatles.” But now, as an adult, I can listen to that music with a lot of nostalgia. So, I just sat down in my studio, put a microphone on and just sang that song and sent it to my producer in Nashville. He was like, “Dude, there’s your cover.”

SSC: Well, I know you’re gonna rock it later. Thanks for talking to us.

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