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Interview and photos by Matt Schwenke
Tim Fite turns back the clock while looking ahead
April 11, 2008
Brooklyn-based Tim Fite beat Radiohead to the punch and created a much talked-about album Over the Counter Culture that uses witty satire on consumerism and the hip-hop culture and gave it all away as free downloads on his website. Chicago Tribune rock critic Greg Kot said of it, "One of the best albums of the new year can't be bought." Fite likes to point out that every song he samples came from an album he found in the bargain bin. He searches for those lost and long forgotten songs and, like a Dr. Frankenstein, reanimates their rhythm and melodies into something that is relevant. Rooted in the tradition on country and hip-hop - Fite bridges his respect for our troubled past and comically winces at how greed and consumerism have only gotten worse in the present and how bad it will surely be in the future.
Livewire's Matt Schwenke recently got the chance to talk with Fite about his dynamic music.
Livewire: Hello Tim, As far back as you can recall, what is your first musical memory?
Fite: I remember the first time I heard the blood machine.
For lack of a better word, I would have to describe it
Livewire: Please describe how you have evolved into becoming a singer/songwriter, musician and graphic artist?
Fite: I have a real hard time being human unless I am making
something. Everyday I want to look back and say, "I
made that today." I find pictures to be the most
productive, but songs have their own place too. The
combination of the two is most satisfying. The more
senses the better.
Livewire: Are there any other realms of art you'd like to explore? If so, please explain.
Fite: I think that someday, I would like to settle down and
just paint. I don't let myself paint right now
because I know that it would not stop. "There will be
time to paint later," I say.
Livewire: What kind of responses have you received from the free release of Over The Counter Culture on your web site?
Fite: I have gotten a lot of positive responses.
Overwhelmingly so, in fact. I had planned on letting
OTCC slip through the cracks because I didn't think
anybody would want to hear my ranting.
Oddly enough, a staggering number of folks have
downloaded the record.
Livewire: On the aforementioned album you criticize mass culture and consumerism. Please explain how you would like to make a living off of your music and art.
Fite: I think that it would be real nice to set up a
subscription plan where people could subscribe for a
year and in that year get full access to what I am
making as I make it. That kind of directness between
the maker and the buyer would be ideal for me.
Livewire: Will your forthcoming album be free as well?
Fite: Sadly, no. I have a standard recording contract with
anti that I have to live up to. They were so
supportive with giving away OTCC, and believe in what
I am doing whole heartedly. But, they are in the
business of selling records, so this one must be sold.
Livewire: What can we expect from the new material?
Fite: Fair Ain't Fair is a continuation of everything I have
made thus far. I tried to expand on musical chopping
and building, adding all kinds of new instruments and
sources into the songs. Thematically the record tries
to come to terms with apocalypse and apology, walking
that fine line between destructive violence and
Livewire: You had mentioned that, while on tour with Les Claypool, playing at a venue with a barricade in front of the stage was a new experience for you. How have the larger stages/venues changed your show?
Fite: I try to treat every crowd the same regardless of
size. Sometimes it is easier to make friends with a
smaller audience, though.
Livewire: If you could pick one musical act to split a bill with, who would it be? Why?
Fite: I would like to play a show with Tom Waits, because I
would like to see him play live.
Livewire: I read that you only used samples from records that were a dollar or less on Gone Ain't Gone. Who are your favorite artists in the one dollar record category?
Fite: There is a band called Ox that I got out of the dollar
bin that is simply fantastic. I never sampled it
because I grew too attached.
Related articles:Les Claypool / Tim Fite - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI March 2008