A number of local GTG Records bands perform a free show Friday at The Avenue Café, including Sleeping Timmy & The Black Hole Sound, an indie-rock outfit masterminded and led by songwriter Timmy Rodriguez (bass/vocals). Sharing the bill are Small Parks, Crystal Drive and Drinking Mercury. Since 2010, Rodriguez has fronted Sleeping Timmy, a solo project he named after the Beatles’ dreamy classic “I’m Only Sleeping.” City Pulse caught up with Rodriguez. Here’s what he had to say.
You have some deep music roots in Lansing, but you’re not actually from the Capital City and currently live in Grand Rapids. What’s your hometown?
I grew up in the small town of Lake Odessa. I started playing in local pop-punk bands and met Tommy McCord of the Plurals and GTG Records when I was a junior in high school. He moved out to Lansing in 2005. I just followed along. I never actually lived in Lansing, but it has been my second home since then.
Most prominently, I was in the Break-Ups, which was active from 2006 until about 2013. I also still play bass in Drinking Mercury.
Sleeping Timmy has released a lot of new music recently, have you been busier than usual these days?
Yeah, 2018 was a pretty busy year. I worked pretty hard on an LP called “Sleeping Timmy & The Black Hole Sound,” that came out last February. It was out of the ashes of a short lived project I was in called Carm. Carm was never able to be the band I wanted it to be due to my schedule and just life in general. I am not able to commit fully to a band that practices and performs regularly, but I can never turn off the musician in me. I was kind of at a stalemate for a bit until I heard Jeff Rosenstock’s “Worry” LP for the first time. That album gave me the kick in the butt to make a record and I recorded this album in my spare time.
Lyrically, what inspired that batch of songs?
I tried to capture “existence” in the last record. Not to sound existential or anything like that, but existence from my perspective. I also wrote about our current political climate all the way to space time continuum stuff. I was reading a lot of Dalai Lama and reading about Buddhism, so those ideas are explored throughout, but I also touched on fatherhood and decaying friendships that arise with growing.
Sometimes simple moments inspire a song. One song in particular, “You Are the Breeze,” I wrote about while I was standing in the Atlantic Ocean and was being crashed around in the waves. It gave me a very humbling perspective. I am nothing compared to Mother Nature.
She is queen and I am but a mere speck in her existence.
What are you focused on in 2019, musically and otherwise?
Well, I’ve been married now for about four years and have two boys. I also teach art full time and do a weekly radio show called “For the Record with Ryne Clarke and Sleeping Timmy” on Lowell Radio. Musically, so far, 2019 has been pretty sweet. My record got nominated for a Jammie at WYCE’s Jammie Awards and I started work on my follow-up record. I have about 12 basic tracks done. They are in a constant state of creation and destruction. I was really inspired by Wilco’s “I Am Just Trying to Break Your Heart” documentary and how they built a lot of their songs up, only to break them down again and start from bare bones. That philosophy has changed so much of my thinking.