Rob Timm of WRNR Weighs In About His Band, Prozakistan

The ever gracious and always entertaining, Mr. Rob Timm of WRNR took a few minutes out to give us the inside scoop on his band Prozakistan.  Check out what he had to say about the band name, his music, whole body flossing, using the word ‘both’ when referring to 3 things, and more…

 

LW: For the folks who aren’t familiar with Prozakistan, can you tell them a little about who you are…What’s the origin of the name? What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?, etc.?

RT: Kurt says he coined the phrase Prozakistan in the 90s. It refers to the overmedication of our citizens – Prozac Nation. He swears the high rate of depression in the U.S. reflects the pharmaceutical-industrial complex. People are simply repressed and needed to get out more, more outlets -creative and otherwise. I, on the other hand, swear that he & I made it up one day when we were smoking cigarettes outside of Dermot’s house. Bands break up over stuff like this, but so far, we’ve persevered.

Our music falls somewhere between the Captain (before he met Tennille) and the Pixies. Actually, everybody has an unusually broad taste in music. So broad that I don’t even know how it influences us as a band. I do know that our songs vary so much stylistically that we’re either delightfully eclectic or disturbingly unfocused.

LW:  When and how did you form the band? What inspired you guys to make music together?

RT: Everything is an evolution. A couple of years ago our singer Kurt Samson had a project called No Ball for Lola. He became friends with our guitarist Dermot O’Sullivan, who had stopped playing for a couple years after ten years of trying to land a major label in LA/SF. (Dermot’s old band MOTRKAD put out two CDs with Chris Isaac’s producer.) I met Kurt around the same time, and when he found out I had played drums in a previous life, he encouraged me to start playing again. His argument was that I was so immersed in music every day anyway that my ability would probably come back. After a number of personnel changes we evolved into the current line-up, with Frank D. on bass and Ralph on keys. “Drive-by” Russ Jones came in later on second guitar. Initially Prozakistan was formed as a benefit band – Its in our official charter/mission statement to play benefits for worthwhile causes. Or it would be if we ever wrote anything down. We’ll be playing a We Care benefit on June 20th.

LW:  You spend a lot of time spreading the music love on air…but what aspect of making music excites you the most?

RT: In addition to being a creative outlet, something happens when you’re making original good music with others that is like driving 100 mph with the top down. It’s both liberating, transcendent and noisy. Can you use the word “both” when referring to three things?

LW:  What musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

RT: I believe that there is good stuff in (almost) every genre. I grew up in a very musical extended family – lots of pickin’ & piano playin’ & singin’ when we’d get together with the cousins and such. From a very young age I was exposed to everything from classical (Mom made me attend The Boston Symphony – I hated it & I thank God she did) to my older sibling’s rock & roll 45′s & LP’s. I can sing The Music Man in it’s entirety, saw Frank Zappa live thirteen times, and my favorite opera is Bizet’s “Carmen” (this causes strife in my home – my wife is more of a Verdi chick). I love punk rock, T.Rex & Hank Williams Senior. I believe Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet & most poor suckers are starving to death”.

LW:  In what ways does Annapolis (or other places you’ve lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

RT: Being involved in the Boston music scene in the 80′s was enormously influential. Every night there were fabulous bands – local, national & international – at over a half dozen venues. I was in the clubs four or five nights a week. It was just fantastic, both as a fan & as a player.

For a long time, Annapolis had a very limited number of rock venues for original music. That’s changed, especially with the Ram’s Head. It’s still a very small town, though. Fortunately, DC and Baltimore are within spitting distance. I don’t think where I live has much influence over what I listen to- that’s the point of music – to take you where the artists are.

LW:  What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played a show?

RT: In Boston, there is a very famous club called “The Paradise”. U2 played one of their first gigs there. There’s also a gay leather bar called just plain ”Paradise”. I used to be in a band called The Blue Chowder that used to play Paradise.

Prozakistan also played a benefit  the Senator Theatre in Baltimore, that Art Deco landmark, and the location of John Waters’ premiers – Pink Flamingos through Hairspray. But Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention played there back in the day, as did James Brown. It was really great to be able to play on such an historic stage before it went dark for good.

LW:  Before you start you rocking out do you have a super secret ritual you do?  Honey, lemon, & pepper tea?  Naps on satin pillows?

RT: I should eat a couple of bananas or take potassium supplements so I don’t cramp up, but I don’t. I prefer whole-body flossing followed by emersion therapy in a sensory deprivation tank.

LW: Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

RT: Kurt writes the really strange/funny lyrics. Dermot writes most of the melodies and a lot of the lyrics too, and has a big hand in a lot of the arrangements. We all have a say in the creative hashing out that goes into the final mix. It’s like sausage – tastes good but you don’t want to see how it’s made.

Most of our songs seem to be about the realization that none of us really have any understanding of what reality really is – more questions than answers. That, and girls.

LW:  Tell us about Prozakistan’s music-making process.

 

Prozakistan performs live at Rams Head On Stage April 27th

RT: Dermot has hours of recorded ideas to draw from, and Kurt can come up with lyrics almost on the spot. It’s bizarre. Never seen anything like it. Dermot usually plays an idea and we improvise for a bit. Or he has one already finished. If we think it has potential we work on it. That said, some of our material just happened. Canyon Fire grew out of Ralph playing one note on a keyboard while everyone else was outside taking a break. Kurt came in and started reciting lines from a long poem we’d written a few years back when his mother was dying. The lyrics are strange, but they seem to have an affect on people. After playing Canyon Fire there’s usually an interesting silence -from both the audience and the band members.

LW:  Describe the Prozakistan fan.

RT: Usually an unemployed steelworker with a sinus condition and dark secrets. That’s good for us, because the steel industry isn’t doing well, so we see growth potential.

LW:  What’s the ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? Is it all about the Benjamin’s?

RT: This is all about creative expression and helping others feel good about life.Maybe not their life, but somebody’s.

LW:  As both a radio star AND a rock star, what advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

RT: Do it for love. This advice applies to most other things in life, as well. Or just do it. You don’t have to have some lofty goal of stardom. I don’t. At the end of the day, playing music is fun & gratifying. Who doesn’t like fun & gratifying?

LW:  How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?

RT: We’re finishing up a bunch of material for a CD with our dear friend/recording engineer/producer/source of great amusement Mike Zull. Until recently of Hour Haus Studios in Baltimore, now with Studio 14. Some of the demos are on our website www.prozakistan.com

LW:  Any last words?

RT: Don’t step in that.

For tickets to see Prozakistan with special guest, The Names visit www.ramsheadonstage.com or call the box office at 410.268.4545.

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