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Tim Wheatley chats to Jen about his new single ’78 BENZ’ and returning to Australia for two shows in June.

Off the back of his Top 10 ARIA album, 2015’s Cast of Yesterday, alternative folk/rock troubadour Tim Wheatley has announced his third single off the release, 78 Benz, and an accompanying film clip that’s steeped in nostalgia. To celebrate the release, Wheatley will be returning to Australia in June for two exclusive performances at The Marlborough Hotel Sydney on June 2 and The Grace Darling Melbourne on June 10.

78 Benz is a rambling, guitar-driven ode to those who follow their passion, despite the rejection and struggle that accompanies it. Produced by Paul Mckercher (You Am I, Sarah Blasko, Josh Pyke) and mixed by Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon), Wheatley’s effortless vocals float gently atop a bed of acoustic strumming, emotive harmony and country-inspired licks. Drawing inspiration from a despondency stemming from pursuing several different creative projects at once, Wheatley explains, “I had been in LA nearly a year, playing shows, writing, and turning my hand to other things like modelling and acting. I was juggling three passions, in which rejection is an integral part, and really struggling with it… ironically, as much as it was taking its toll on me, 78 Benz, my favourite song on the record, would never have come about with the absence of struggle.”

The clip for 78 Benz depicts Tim as a creative chameleon, trying his hand at an array of different artistic disciplines with infectious optimism. Working with director Andrew Noel, Tim describes the process of making the clip, “In staying true to the lyric, Andy and I wanted to depict a few of the things I tried after moving to Los Angeles… I was struggling with a few of the ‘necessary evils’ within industries I was quite unfamiliar with. I think Andy captured ‘looking to the bright of otherwise trying times’ really well.”

In light of the release, Wheatley will be returning to home soil in June to play two intimate shows in Sydney and Melbourne. Excited about the upcoming trip, Tim enthuses, “I can’t wait to get back to Australia, and for people to hear this song. In fact, I wish I was staying in Australia longer!”

Hi Tim,

Hope you are well.

 Please to hear that you are returning to Australia for a tour in June. Will you also take a break out of your hectic schedule of late?

 I will be as a matter of fact! But sadly not while I’m in Australia. I’m playing a show in London at the end of the month, and sneakily took a week either side to move around Europe while I’m there. 

 Do you miss your home town of Melbourne? I know I did when I moved to Hong Kong for two years.

I really do. It’s funny how when you move away, you gain a new found love of your hometown. I always find myself writing songs about home when I’m on the road. Then when I finally get home, I’m writing about being on the road… I miss the cold mornings with my dog walking around Richmond the most. 

I have spent a lot of my life touring, travelling and living abroad. It’s not something I will ever get used to, but a big part what I love doing, which is playing music. 

 Do you know who are your supports for your Aussie shows yet?

 I am very fortunate to have ‘Little Georgia’ playing with me on this tour. Ashleigh Mannix and Justin Carter are two of my best friends. I have toured and played more shows with them, than anyone else, and quite literally seen it all. So it’s only right that the three of us hit the road together again. 

 Is there anything that you have learnt on your recent tour that you will never do again? 

 I’m a big believer that you learn more from the bad shows, than the good ones. And there have been plenty of them! Hahaha. But specifically, on the last tour I borrowed a friend’s guitar for a show because I believed it to be better at the time. Well, it was a nightmare! It kept feeding back, going out of tune and the input jack kept making horrible noises. Never again. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ll be sticking with ol’ faithful for this tour. 

 You have such a busy lifestyle, it made me tired just reading all your activities! Referring to your quote below, can you expand a little bit about how you juggled these passions and if you can, a story of rejection?

 “I had been in LA nearly a year, playing shows, writing, and turning my hand to other things like modelling and acting.  I was juggling three passions, in which rejection is an integral part, and really struggling with it…

 L.A. is a fickle beast. At the moment I’m in the early stages of piecing together my second album. So I am basically just writing as opposed to travelling and performing. So in keeping busy I turn my hand to some other creative outlets. 

My management in the U.S. is forever encouraging me to branch out into acting. And don’t get me wrong, I like it, however I don’t think ‘cutting your chops’ in Hollywood is the right move. Learn to use a sword before walking out in to the Colosseum. 

However LA has a funny way of drawing you in – I met a director drinking one night at the Roosevelt hotel, who wanted me to come and audition for their next movie. It went really well. So well in fact I ended up doing around three weeks of various testing with them. Musically and physically the role was very fitting, except I wanted to seal the deal and make the role mine, by dying my hair as per the description of the character. I drank the cool-aid, and did not get the role. 

 You spent St Patricks Day at the Troubador and it was also your birthday. How was that night? Yes I have been going through your facebook!!  

The night at the Troubadour is a bit of a blur… The crowd at the show was in a very festive mood, and so was I being on my birthday and all. It was a big deal for me as it acts as such a landmark venue for the musicians I most admire like The Eagles, Jackson Browne, David Bowie, Bonnie Rait and I could basically go on for hours. Simply walking around backstage with my old man (who surprised me with a visit for the show) was something very special to both of us.  

I saw that you went on a helicopter ride over Hollywood. Great pic of you doing that! How was that experience? No way would I go in a helicopter!

 Hahaha, I’m with you! I am the worst flyer ever. However, it was the best thing I have done in a long time! I have been driving around LA for so long, and yet had no sense of direction. To fly from Downtown to Malibu in less than ten minutes was incredible. It’s the only way I could really orientate myself and see what the place is all about. I’ll admit, I was also very distracted and intrigued by some of the houses in the hills. Some people have more money than sense! Hahaha. I can’t recommend doing that enough to anyone visiting (or living) in Los Angeles. 

Tim Wheatley 78 Benz low res

 Do you have a plan for the next single release? Or do you decide after you see how 78 Benz goes?

 It depends who you’re asking. I know exactly what the plan is. But it’s not up to me!

 What do you enjoy the best? Touring, writing, recording or making the videos or do you enjoy the whole process?

 I’m going to say something you didn’t mention – Performing. Which I suppose falls under touring, but touring isn’t as fun as it used to be because I tour solo now. Some of my fondest memories are on tour with the band. But these days it’s a lot of lonely hours on the road late at night, which sometimes really takes away from what was otherwise a great show. Shitty motels are funny when you’re with the band, but depressing when you’re by yourself. You can’t blame someone else for missing flights.  

Ah yes I did leave out performing! How does your writing process go? Do you have line pop into your head and you write them down or do you have a space where you sit down and get stuck into writing a song? I saw a picture of you on facebook and the post of :

“In a losing battle of mental well being, I must take my writing elsewhere…”

 I’m forever at home with my guitar in hand, recording little ideas I come up with. Lyrically it is a different beast. I write things down over time, and everyday attempt to write something from ‘start to finish’.  It could be just a paragraph, but it’s a lesson in completion. I’m trying to make that a habit in hope that it carries over into other parts of my personal life. I believe a person could lose their mind simply penning thoughts without figuring how they came to be.

 You have had a hectic time but what is next for you Tim? Anything you can share? 

 Write the song, record the song, tour the song… repeat. 

 Thanks Tim, I appreciate your time and I wish you all the best for your home town tour. Hope to see you in Melbourne,

Cheers,  Jen

Thanks for the chat, Jen!

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