Tim Timebomb Talks "ROCKNROLL THEATER", Reading, Evil, and More
Tue, 22 Nov 2011 08:23:08
"We've got an army behind ROCKNROLL THEATER," exclaims Tim Timebomb with a devilish grin. "It's not going to end. That's good news for me!"
It's good news for everyone else too because Tim Timebomb's ROCKNROLL THEATER on VEVO is the slickest, smartest, sexiest, and sharpest series to hit the Internet yet. In terms of original online programming, nothing compares. The Rancid frontman has crafted a vibrant brew of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Twilight Zone with a badass vaudevillian punk soundtrack. The first "season" is Tim's modern update of Dante's Inferno complete with AFI's Davey Havok as Satan himself. You've got to see it to believe it.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor-in-chief and Dolor author Rick Florino, Tim Timebomb [Tim Armstrong] breaks down the idea for ROCKNROLL THEATER, talks what's on his reading list, discusses favorite anthologies, and so much more.
Where did the idea for Tim Timebomb's ROCKNROLL THEATER come from?
The idea just hit me. It's an aggregate of a lot of things that I do. Tim Timebomb's ROCKNROLL THEATER was always going to be a musical show. I reached out to my buddy Dave Robertson who's a music video producer. I've worked with him dozens of time for Rancid and Hellcat Records. He's probably produced well over 300 videos for everyone under the sun from Tiger Army to Madonna. We came up with this script with my friend John Roecker, and I put the music together. We brought in Davey Havok from AFI who I've known since he was a teenager [Laughs]. We also brought in Lars Frederikson from Rancid and a bunch of other friends. It was a goddamn party, straight up! It was super fun. We shot it really quickly and built a little world with miniatures and sets. We didn't want it to be too serious, but we wanted it to be good. We got Kevin Kerslake on board who's a very talented director. He's worked with Rancid, and he did a few Nirvana videos as well as The Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. We just brought in our crew that's been collected over the years. It wasn't a lot of strangers. It was so fun that we can't wait until we get this rocking. We've got more! We're going to keep doing this. ROCKNROLL THEATER is not going to die. I'm ecstatic. The response has made me so happy. So many people have been so supportive of it and they seem to get what we're doing. We're drawing references from the anthology TV shows of the late '50s like Boris Karloff's Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. It'll work if it's constructed in the anthology format. We can draw in talented singers and people for two or three days. Guys like Davey are really busy, but they can shoot for a few days or take a day to record. The idea is to have a different cast for each episode.
Does writing script and developing a show come from a different creative place than songwriting? Or, are they intertwined?
I wrote the script with John and we've collaborated before. The songs were mine, and they came easy because I've always been a storyteller songwriter. I'm less abstract. Even going back to Operation Ivy and a song like "Bad Town" or Rancid songs like "Ruby Soho" or "Timebomb", those are about people. There's some sort of narrative in most of my songs. It lends itself to this. The thing that was new for ROCKNROLL THEATER was the actual acting because that's something we haven't done a lot of. A lot of the story in Dante is told in the song because I'm used to do it. I love to tell stories in songs.
What appealed to you about the story of Dante's Inferno?
It's the classic story of Dante but with a modern day take on corruption and greed—Wall Street in particular. Initially when we wrote it a year ago, Dante was going to be full-on Wall Street. He's still got that vibe of a Wall Street scumbag. He goes to Hell and meets Davey Hook. The idea was to put a new spin on a classic.
Was it important for you to examine evil from a different angle?
Definitely! Here's a guy who's so bad that the devil doesn't even want to deal with him [Laughs]. Lars is a trooper. Davey had so much fun too. It was a blast watching those guys act. They both really enjoyed it. They never had much training, but they love doing it. They're great at memorizing since they're both singers. Acting is different than singing and being in a band.
The production looks so top notch. Did it come together in a D.I.Y. manner though?
There wasn't a crazy budget. It's super D.I.Y. We totally did it ourselves. Making music videos is part of our community as well as making records and playing shows. I know how it works. It's something that I love to do and we've done a lot of it. We're essentially doing scripted music videos, and we were the first scripted show to go on a music video channel, which is VEVO.
Which anthology show was your favorite?
I loved them all! Boris Karloff's Thriller is my favorite. It had more of a horror vibe. I love The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Twilight Zone obviously. They were all different. Twilight Zone was Rod Serling's and he was an award-winning writer. He was a WWII guy, and he cut his teeth on the radio. He brought in Ray Bradbury and a lot of great cats. Alfred Hitchcock was more murder-mystery style.
Are you a big reader?
I love to read. I read everything both Dean Koontz and Stephen King do. They're both incredible. You ever read Joe Hill's short horror stories? He's Stephen King's son, and he wrote a whole series of short ghost stories. They're phenomenal. He also wrote a book called Horns and one called Heart-Shaped Box. My favorite stuff he does is the short stuff. I found out by accident. I went to Spain in 2007 for six months just to get out, roll, and travel. I took his book Heart-Shaped Box with me, and it was dope. I was like, "Who the fuck is this?" We didn't have Internet in the South of Spain. I went to a hotel and they had internet. I went, "Who the hell is this writer?" I came to find out he was Stephen King's son. He didn't want people to know. I love horror, and I love reading. I just read a book called Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It's a fucking great book. This kid is a young writer. He was in the poetry slam circuit. He's very talented. The book is futuristic. It's a wild ride.
What's been the most rewarding aspect of the show so far?
The response from my friends…When it finally got finished and everybody started hitting me up like they were proud of me was so cool. I didn't really know what we were doing until it was finished. Then I realized. You just do it. You don't really know. My friends mean a lot to me and they were all happy I'm doing something fun and creative. I love creating and being an artist, but hearing the feedback is so cool.
Have you seen Tim Timebomb's ROCKNROLL THEATER yet?
Watch it here!