Strand of Oaks – Interview with Timothy Showalter...

Strand of Oaks recently released one of the most brutally honest rock albums of 2014. The brainchild of Tim Showalter, HEAL is an unflinchingly raw examination of the songwriter’s own faults and failings, a brave attempt to confront the demons that were sending him on a dangerous downward spiral. But HEAL is not some empty exercise in navel-gazing; it is a bold and bracing rock album that betrays Showalter’s love of the music he listened to growing up as a kid in Indiana. We caught up with the fascinating and engaging Showalter ahead of his Dublin show in Whelan’s on 3rd October. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Tim – for those who might not be familiar with your music, tell us a little about Strand of Oaks and how you got to the point of making your latest album HEAL? Great to talk with you. Well, I’ve been making music most of my life but Strand of Oaks has existed for about ten years.  I’ve made four record prior to HEAL.  I can’t really function without making music so obviously I love making records, but HEAL means something much more to me.  It feels like my debut in a way.  It took me ten years to find the courage and confidence of finally make the record I wanted to.  In the simplest of terms I had to lose myself to find myself.  When you accept the darkest and most honest points of your life there is little to be afraid of anymore.  I went through a pretty rough time leading up to writing HEAL and because of that I was able to approach writing and record without any hesitations.    Growing up in Indiana, which bands or musicians turned you on to music for the first time and how much of that music continues to influence what you do to this day? So many bands and records help define me.  Looking back I was slightly too young to fully experience the grunge movement but I was still heavily influence by the rawness of that time.  One record in particular was Jeff Buckley’s Grace.  It struck me so much deeper than other records, it was the first record to truly feel important to me.  My relationship with music has and always will be essential.  I’m constantly listening to and collecting records.  I understand the language of music and am constantly inspired by it.  We would probably need a whole other interview to talk about all the bands I’m digging these days.   J Mascis of Dinosaur Jnr plays guitar on the opening track of your album – how did that collaboration come about? Getting J to play was pure magic.  I recorded Goshen ’97 and my label suggested that J should shred on it.  Within 24 hours of talking he had recorded the track.  It’s very surreal to listen to that song and realize that my hero is playing guitar right along with me.   The opening track of Heal: Goshen ’97 – on the surface, it seems like a nostalgic look back at the days of your youth but then there is the repeated line ‘I don’t want to start over again..’ Tell us a little about that song. I think that song took about fifteen minutes to write.  I didn’t think about anything.  Just pounded out my favourite chords on the guitar and wrote exactly what I was feeling.  The song is really a celebration of getting through those awkward teenage years and making it out alive.   HEAL is an intensely personal album – there is no attempts to cloak anything in metaphor. It is direct and blunt and pulls no punches.  Was there a sense that you had come to a point where this album had to be made for you to be able to move on from some of the things...