If you’re a fan of the heavier end of the musical spectrum then the name Tim Williams should be one with which you’re familiar. From his time in legendary hardcore band Vision of Disorder to his more recent work in alt-metal bruisers Bloodsimple, Williams has a body of work that, to this day, is still hugely influential across the metal and hardcore scene.
When Tim recently announced his new project Rollin’ Coffin, and the release of his debut single “Runaway,” now seemed the perfect time to catch up with him to find out more about this new act, his plans for the future and, of course, his career to date.
Hey Tim, how are things at the moment?
Tim Williams: “Life is good. I can’t complain, everything’s pretty good, I’m alright. Everybody’s healthy. And, you know, that’s good.”
First of all, really appreciate your time.
“No problem. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to it.”
So you have the new band Rollin’ Coffin?
“Yeah. Starting a new project… Yeah, it’s called Rollin’ Coffin. It’s basically my project because it’s not with any of my past members or anything like that. I do have one co-writer who helped me finish the songs and shape them and help me find the sound I’ve been looking to find for quite a while and he’s great. His name is Colin Schiller and he’s been really great. I really didn’t want to get into the whole band thing right away, so I’m just working with him. Wherever it goes from there, that’s fine.”
Ok, so you said you’ve been trying to find your sound for a while. What brought it together now?
“Well, I did both bands and I had a pretty great career with them. It never really seemed like either the right time or that I had the time because I was always writing. I’m always writing lyrics and vocal parts. I would also be playing some guitar parts here and there through the years. Over the last five or six years or so, I really started writing more songs on guitar and they’re a different sound. I don’t want to turn anybody off or anybody to have, like, preconceived notions of what it is.
It’s dark, it’s honest and it’s raw and, it’s me. I wanted, like, a more organic sound. It’s more towards an indie hardcore punch than a rock thing. I didn’t really want to do a rock thing. I didn’t feel like that’s my place and where I would hope to go. No disrespect to that at all. It’s just I don’t think that’s for me. I mean, so this is more of an indie feel. The people that have heard it, and we’ve done a very good job of keeping it quiet, they don’t think it’s that much of a departure from some of the stuff I’ve done in the past, you know, which is cool and reassuring to hear.”
Ok. Talking about your past, do you think fans of your hardcore stuff will enjoy it? As you said, it’s raw and emotional?
“I think the true fans of both of my bands, all the records, and ultimately me as a singer, will really like it because it is me. If you’re a diehard fan, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like it. Maybe some of the true hardcore people, maybe they might find it a little hard to swallow but that’s ok. Everybody’s entitled to their own thoughts. It’s all good.”
How would you describe it musically then?
“I would say it’s raw, honest, it has like this dark indie feel to it like a desert funk. Like you fucking feel like driving a car out into the middle of nowhere, stars everywhere, all around, earth, mountains, just being free. It’s got that feel to it, you know, loose. It’s loose. The drums are loose and it’s got a good vibe.”
Has part of that influence come from the fact that, as you said, you’ve done it on your own? It’s you not tied down by a band.
“I think a lot of it has to do with that. There might still be VOD records or Bloodsimple records in the future. I don’t know? This fucking business is so crazy, you never know really what’s going to happen, you know? So I never like to say never, but it was really great and somewhat refreshing to just get down to my studio and write what I thought sounded good to me and then really be able to take the time on the lyrics and the vocals. It’s not like I didn’t do that in the past, but there was a lot of moving parts to the other bands, whereas now, this was me and a guitar working out all the parts, working on the vocals.
If I didn’t like it, I could throw the whole song out. I didn’t have to try and fudge it and have to make it work. My friend really captured the sound and he was really quick to return the mixes, whereas in the past I’ve done some stuff, some stuff worked well, some stuff took just too long and you just lose interest and you’re off to the next thing.”
Ok, so why is now the right time for Rollin’ Coffin?
“Because it all comes down to timing, you know? I did VOD for years then I did a Bloodsimple for years. Again, maybe not full capacity, but full enough that I just didn’t have the time. Things started to quiet down for various reasons so I just said, fuck it, this is it, this is the time. I finally sat down, put pencil to paper, wrote the guitar parts, got Logic, got all that stuff in order and I slowly started pushing out parts and songs. So, it’s just because I had more time. Just like with anything it’s always hard to start but, once you get started, it just starts rolling.”
What was that like from a songwriter’s point of view? Just, as you say, on your own and able to thrash out these songs and just be able to write what you felt like without any outside pressure from band members?
“It was exciting. It was really invigorating because, you know, now it’s just me. Maybe it’s a little nerve-wracking, but I had a goal in mind. I wanted to release something. I’ve always said that for years and years and years but, for whatever reason, something always got in the way. It just felt great to actually see these songs come from me and an acoustic guitar with a little scrappy piece of paper at a kitchen table. Doing it that way, bringing it downstairs, getting it up on the computer and then shipping it off to my friend and watching that all happen, it was great. It was exciting.”
How does it feel that you’ve got somebody who has got that connection with you and can get what you are about?
“I’ve known him for a very, very long time. He worked for VOD. Me and him have always gotten along really, really well. He’s a smart guy, you know, and it just feels good to have that connection. Like when he turned back the first song to me, I was like, ‘holy shit, this is it. Now I have a plan. Now I’m going to give him another song,’ and, boom, he hit it again and then again. Then, by the fourth or fifth song, it was just it was really coming together really quickly and the sound was getting more and more to where I wanted it. Half the battle is that you’ve got these songs but what are you going to do with them? I always reach for an acoustic because it’s just easier for me. Grabbing an acoustic guitar, it just feels different. Not that these are acoustic songs, they just started that way because it’s just, to me, the more natural feel for what I’m writing.”
What were you looking for in the songs for this project?
“It was just go with the flow. I wanted a certain darkness, a certain desperation in it because, as I’ve said in many releases, a lot of music for me is almost like therapy. That’s why a lot of my stuff tends to be darker. I wanted a dark sound. I did not I did not want anything poppy. It ain’t fucking me, you know? And I remember meeting Mike Kennedy on the street one or two years ago. We just ran into each other. We’re still very good friends and we were talking and I was like, ‘yeah, I think I’m ready. I’m going to start putting some stuff out.’ He just looked at me like, “yeah, you should definitely put something out.’ He said, “all you have to do is make it dark and it’s going to be fucking awesome,’ and that’s pretty much what I always wanted.
I wanted to do something dark and honest but I wanted to be bold and unpredictable rather than something that somebody is just going to expect. That’s what’s really important to me is to strike out on a different path. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m abandoning my fucking roots because I don’t even know if that’s possible but this is what I wanted.”
Is there anything that will really surprise people about this record or about the whole project, especially people that know your past and you?
“Yeah. I always like a good surprise. I think people, like we said earlier in the interview, who are really into what I’ve done will like it. I’ve covered a lot of ground in my career. They’re going to be pleasantly surprised because it’s got a really good vibe and it’s honest. And to me, that’s really important.”
Going forward then. You said it’s just you and your music. What should thoughts go forward?
“Now I’m just taking it as it comes. I spent a lot of my time in my life in the music business and I still am but I’m just in a position now where I can make my own decisions. I’m unbelievably fortunate that I can do that.”
That’s a great position to be in…
“Yeah. I want to release a couple of songs now so I’m sure they’re going to gain some traction. Then I would really like to in a short term release like a proper EP. I’d like to release a proper EP that really captures the beginning origins of this project. And of course, I’d love to do shows. Obviously, we’d be doing those as a full band. It’s not going to just be me and a guy with a drum machine. That’s not going to fucking happen. When that time does come, you know, me and Colin know enough people that we’re going to get great musicians and I’d love to do some tours. I’d love to go back to Europe, to Japan, love to do some stuff in the U.S., where there is a demand, we’ll go out. I’m ready for it, that would be great because I think a lot of these songs really transfer to a live setting really well.”
Going right back to your early days, those albums were hugely influential and there is still a lot of love for those records out there. What’s your favourite memory of those days?
“That is a lot of memories, man. You know, I’m just going to I’m going to say one because it just popped into my head. This is from the early days of VOD when we used to play a club called the Wetlands. We’re talking ‘95, ‘96 when the first record was out and the band was pretty huge on the underground. Yeah. Me and my friend Davis, God rest his soul, while some of the opening bands would go on, we would always run down the block, get like two beers each and walk into this deserted parking lot and pound these beers while we were looking up at the original Twin Towers.
I don’t know why that popped into my head? There’s so many but that just, you know, maybe that he’s gone, maybe it was such an exciting time to be hanging out with my friend in this parking lot, looking up at those Twin Towers. They looked so massive and we had a good buzz then we’d play a packed, smoke-filled, sweaty club. Yeah, that was just great memories right there.”
Definitely sounds wonderful. I mean, along with the good times the music industry was and still is a brutal industry. You’ve got the scars, the experiences, what have you taken from them into this new chapter of your career.
“Oh, God. Well, you know, there are a lot of lessons. You know, be careful who you hire, they could really make or break your band, especially early on, you gotta be smart. You have to treat it like a business and you’ve got to make calculated moves. It’s crazy and wild in the beginning but, sooner or later, you’ve got to get serious and be careful who you side with. Be careful what you fucking sign because I know these days they got these 360 deals and all this crazy shit, you know. I heard this saying on a Jamey Jasta podcast recently. It was just a simple thing. He said there are no more gatekeepers and that’s really exciting. Like kids in Russia or kids in Indonesia can buy these albums or get these singles and that’s really exciting.
When I heard him say that, I just thought that was really cool. It’s almost exciting that the power structure that maybe kept a lot of people out is no longer there. But, you know, with what you’ve got, you’ve got to be smart.”
When we talked about some of your favourite memories earlier, there are still plenty of people influenced by them and people still love them. From your point of view as a songwriter, that must be a really amazing feeling?
“It is an honour. I don’t take anything like that lightly, you know? To think we influenced people, I never would have thought that when we wrote that stuff. I was just writing just to write, and, looking back ten or 15 years and people are still talking about it and people still want to see it. It’s one of the best feelings. You can’t put money on that feeling.”
You’ve talked about writing material with a darker slant. Could you just tell us about some of the things that have been inspiring you?
“Songs of just being free. Maybe just getting on a train and getting out of the city. Disappearing onto a lonely road, maybe a walk under the stars, maybe a swim in the ocean, just getting out and being free and creating art. I’ve also come into contact with a lot of people with addiction and stuff like that. And there’s definitely some desperate undertones like that. There’s honesty. There are some broken-hearted, displaced type themes going on.”
Given the way life is at the moment, is it hard not to want to go and write an angry, aggressive hardcore record?
“I always will have that in me. I’ll be listening to something like the other day I was driving and a Cannibal Corpse song came on. I was listening to like some playlists and I was like, “holy fuck, I was like this.’ It still turns me on. I’m not closing the door on my heavy stuff, the old guys want to do another record. There’s always been talk of that and it probably will happen if the circumstances present themselves. I still get a lot out of that aggression and that’s still very much a part of me. It’s just not what I’m doing right now. I’ve been writing songs my entire life. I can’t just sit idly by and wait for everybody to say they’re ready.”
It’s great to have you back. From a fan’s point of view, I’m really looking forward to what you do next or where this goes…
“Thank you. As I said, I want to get the songs out there, hopefully, get some traction, get out there, maybe play a couple of live shows. I really would like to do the EP because I think an EP is a good, tangible way to really get stuff out. I’d like to just keep it within my own control as well. Not that I’m like some control freak. I just want things done and in a certain way, I want an organic sound that people can relate to, that people can go out at night, wherever we’re playing and just get lost for a half-hour or 45 minutes. Just come down and get ready to see some really great music with a lot of energy that you’re going to feel.”