The Rudest Man in Rock
Tim Thomerson is sick of your bullshit.
That’s right. You. And your bullshit.
The lead singer and songwriter for the obscure indie noise-rock collective known as Magic Bullet Theory has just returned from the outfit’s sold-out tour of Europe and he wants you to know one thing:
He is sick of your bullshit.
“It’s pretty much everyone,” he reflected, scratching his chin as he gazed out the window. The white peaks of the Swiss Alps reflected off of the glass, casting a white glow over his face. For a moment, he’s an angel, and you wonder if that’s what the teenage girls see in him.
“All those blank faces staring up at me during the last tour – I can’t stand it. If you’re going to be that person, just stay home. I mean, every night it’s my job to go out there and blow your mind. It’s hard work, and I suffer for it.”
That glow, so fleeting, is now gone. He’s turned back to face us, striking a match and lighting a cigarillo. We caught up with him at his personal chalet just before he headed back to the States, where he’s set to record his debut solo album for Itchy Records. This is a man on the cusp of a transformational moment, and we wanted to be there, to talk about his career, his views, and that controversial statement.
This is Plate Magazine’s exclusive look at Tim Thomerson on the eve of a break-out.
He waved dismissively when he entered the “living quarters,” an hour late for the beginning of our interview. He tells us that he has been listening to a 180g vinyl (for those unfamiliar with the term, this is said to offer the highest aural fidelity money can buy) LP hand-crafted by a Mexican singer/songwriter named Juan Juarez – and he ensures that we spell this name correctly.
“I needed to listen to Juarez. He clears the mind, you know, cleanses the old mental palate.” Getting into this, he sits at the chair by the window, pointing a finger at us. “If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that artists like Juan are the ones you should be talking to. I’m nothing. No one.”
Duly noted, we switch tack and ask him about the song that he debuted during the European tour, a droning, drum-laden track that is likely to show up on his solo album.
“I think it has the potential to be one of the most important songs ever written,” he admits, rubbing his chin. “But you know, it doesn’t belong to me. It came from somewhere beyond and it belongs to everyone.”
That’s right, including you.
Thomerson, born Robert Jackson, was born and raised in the suburban DC area. He credits his parents, both accountants, with the varying influences that have defined his musical approach; he cut his teeth on Kerouac, Vivaldi, and Abba.
When asked to praise those influences, he demurs. “The classics can really only co-exist with the modern in an ironic fashion, if you will. Like a trucker hat on a sculpture of Dvorak. A deconstruction.” One has to wonder if he’s describing the new composition, tentatively titled Armor Mech Gorilla. “I think of it like scrubbing the inside of your asshole with rainbows. And bleach. Bleach rainbows.” One wonders if Kurt Cobain played some part in that visual, as well – but we’ll get to that one.
Tim adjusts himself in his seat, tapping the ash from his cigarillo into a monkey-shaped ashtray that sits on the arm of the leather chair. “It’s all about the sacred and the profane, right?”
We ponder whether his teenage years fronting the Nu-Metal band Hard Art had anything to do with his aggressive new sound. At this point, he stares a hole through us.
“Those songs were experimental. They were never meant for the public.”
It’s hard to feel that’s completely the truth, as Thomerson himself has posted videos of Hard Art performing at a high school talent show on his personal YouTube site.
He waves that hand again. “Yes, hello? That’s my prerogative, and it’s called performance art. You probably don’t know the first thing about it.” He mutters threats that cannot be re-printed concerning those who had leaked Hard Art’s sole demo cassette, Some Shit, to the public.
It would be easy to press him on rumors that all or part of the tape is slated to appear in the highly-anticipated Magic Bullet Theory box set at the end of the year, but we decide against such an approach, as Hard Art seems to be off-limits.
He snarls, “next question.”
We move on. Thomerson spent his college years as a street busker, performing acoustic covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Foo Fighters, and Abba.
So we have to ask: why Abba?
“The real question is why not Abba? Music doesn’t fit into some neat box. It doesn’t conform to your ideas of what a ‘serious musician’ should be doing. Sometimes we have to embrace the absurd as well as the straightforward.
“Besides, I like them.”
Does that mean we’ll see a different side of Thomerson on his solo work, or is Armor Mech Gorilla the only way of the future? Could we see some more, dare we say it, frivolous work from the man?
“Let’s get one thing straight: I am never frivolous. You think I’m embracing the absurd because it’s a fun thing to do? No. There’s a statement to be made.”
At this point, we note that he seems irritable, and why we wonder why.
This is when he drops the bombshell: as we said, he is tired of your bullshit.
“I’m sick of the vacuous attitudes. There’s a world out there that needs saving and everybody’s too busy tuning into Jersey Shore, Beavis and Butt-head, and American Urchins.”
We’re surprised to hear American Urchins; if you’re not familiar with the show, you’re not alone. The reality show follows three street orphans as they beg for change. It airs Sunday nights at 11:00 on A&E3 and is consistently near the bottom of the ratings in reality shows, though it does provide some instruction on Thomerson’s guiding lights. When we point out the obscurity of the show, he flips his hand again.
“Of course. It’s my job to keep up on these kinds of things, and you just proved the point: you’re trying to box me in, and I’m sick of it.”
To be continued…