with Timothy Renner of Stone Breath, Black Happy Day, Dark Holler, &
May 23, 2007
Name: Timothy Renner
Bands: Stone Breath, Black Happy Day, Mourning Cloak, Time Moth Eye
Labels: Dark Holler, Hand/Eye
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a professional musician?
Timothy – I honestly don’t know if I ever considered that a realistic possibility. My goal was to make an album “someday” when I started. The fact that I’ve done several is really satisfying to me. Nothing about music has ever come easily for me. I started late in life, & every word, every note, I’ve had to wring out like blood from stone. I’ve never thought anyone owed me a living for this, but have instead celebrated the few people who care to listen. It’s not that I don’t long to make my living with music - I do - but I can’t let myself be disappointed by the fact that I don’t. Maybe someday.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Timothy – I think playing live with Tom Rapp was a major one. He was one of my biggest influences, so being a part of his band for the several shows I played with Tom was wonderful. Otherwise, there have been a moments - usually with Prydwyn, but sometimes with other friends - when the music is speaking so deeply. When we would sort of transcend the band & become a fluid musical entity. A look in the eyes & you know. It’s impossible for me to explain otherwise.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Timothy – I guessed it would be at a young age, but I was never really certain until one New Year’s Eve when my then-future wife looked me in the eyes & told me she loved me. 10 years later, to the day, our twin children were born.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Timothy – In general, children make you less selfish & more flexible. I can’t honestly think of a time my family has had a negative impact on my career. They wouldn’t stop me from doing anything I really wanted to do - but most of what I really want to do is to stay home with them.
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Timothy – It has probably kept me from devoting a lot of time to a successful day job & things that would make their lives more conventionally comfortable. We live in a tiny house & one room is completely dedicated to Dark Holler • Hand/Eye & as a recording studio. Our extended family just love to ask: “But do you NEED that room devoted to music.” Yes, we do, actually.
QRD – Have your children effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Timothy – Sure. They effect everything. They have artists & songs they like to hear often, so they get played here often. Likewise, I’ve thought very much about what they will be listening to, if they ever listen to my music, & what I am leaving behind for them.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Timothy – Yes. My day job isn’t a great one, because it provides me the flexibility required to have a music “career” (or lack thereof) as well as run a record label. Money is tight, to put it mildly; but I hope we are giving other things to our children: the idea that it’s important to create & to have something to be passionate about.
QRD – Given the limitations having a family has on being a touring musician, would you have toured more earlier in life if you’d known?
Timothy – No. I discovered early on that touring is really hard on me, mentally. I don’t much romanticize “the road” & I don’t really envy artists who are constantly touring. I like playing music for people, & I like the destinations - seeing new people & locales, but I don’t much like the traveling. I usually say: “I’m more hermit than wandering minstrel.”
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Timothy – Father. Very few people ever hear my music.
QRD – Would you rather see your child eventually become a musician or parent?
Timothy – Both choices would be entirely up to them.
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Timothy – My children get whatever they need - everything left over goes to music & art. My kids have grown up with live music being played though, & most nights they can sleep through me playing banjo or singing or whatever I am doing.
QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a musician?
Timothy – I don’t think so.
QRD – What do your children think of your music?
Timothy – Well, they are just toddlers, & they have been around it their entire life, so you get various reactions according to their mood. Sometimes they ask me to play banjo for them. Sometimes they ask me to put it down so we can play. My wife told me my daughter heard me singing a song (recording) the other night & she said to my wife: “Daddy is singing beautifully.” Other times she has told me she heard me singing her “beautiful songs” at night. Those kinds of comments are priceless to me.
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your children?
Timothy – I would love to. If they are ever interested, a house full of instruments is available to them.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Timothy – Be good & kind especially to those less fortunate than you. Eat your vegetables. Sing. Love. Pray.
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