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Despite not being a household name in the UK, indie stalwart Mary Timony has accomplished enough to deserve a little more recognition. From Autoclave to Helium, and Wild Flag to current band Ex Hex (with three solo albums squeezed in for good measure), one shouldn’t be scathed for calling her a music veteran. I eventually (after solving the illogistics of making a call to Washington) caught up with Mary to find out about her career, and future plans with Ex Hex.
Hi Mary, glad we’ve found time to chat in the end! You’ve just finished your US tour, how did that go?
Good, I guess. We went to San Francisco, New York, lots of places. We’ve been touring loads, I think we counted that we’ve done 165 shows in the last year and a half!
Wow, that’s loads! You’ll be coming to the UK next month, have you found there’s a difference between gigging in the UK compared to the US?
Hmm…the drives are certainly shorter in England! Well I like England a lot, so I really enjoy being there and it’s a lot of fun. I’m kind of glad this next tour is just England rather than all the other European countries, it’s short but sweet.
What about the audiences, are they different?
I don’t think the people are different. Well I’ve been in lots of bands, so maybe they used to be slightly different. Perhaps not in England but in Europe, like Germany, when you jam and improvise, people have much longer attention spans haha.
Will we be seeing new material on this tour?
Well there will be a new record soon, so maybe. But we’ll be recording over next summer for a follow-up.
Will the follow-up to Rips be slightly different, or quite similar?
I’m not sure, it’s really hard to control. I’m sure it’ll be similar a bit, but we won’t know until we do it. It’ll be similar because a band will always sound a certain way, but you can’t control it.
You’ve been in lots of bands over your career, but none have lasted very long. Will Ex Hex last longer?
Hmm, yeah I think we will stay together. I’m really enjoying it at the moment so I can’t see why not. We’re making a new record, so we’ll be together for a while.
Since Ex Hex are a new band, but you’re a veteran of the music industry, did many people think you were all new to the music scene?
Well not really I don’t think. Maybe in Europe, and in England people thought so. I’ve recorded a few solo albums which never really took off in Europe so a few people there may have thought we were new. But not over here [America]. But we’re so busy, we don’t notice what people think. This is the busiest I’ve ever been, so we don’t have time to notice what people think. We focus on making a good record and good music, so we don’t pay attention to everyone else. It makes you feel gross inside haha.
What’s been your best experience on tour, with or without Ex Hex?
Oh gosh, there’s been so many crazy adventures! It depends on what you mean. Ex Hex are by far my favourite band to play with, but we work hard and it’s really fun to play live. In the 90s with a band called Helium I was in, we played with Sonic Youth which was really exciting, as I’m a big fan. But we’re so immersed and focussed on what we do we don’t tend to notice. We’re in our own world a lot of the time. We just played Treasure Island in San Francisco which was awesome. We saw War on Drugs who are amazing, and also Drive Like Jehu who have just reunited so that was good.
What’s kept you motivated all these years of playing?
I’ve taken some breaks from music, and some breaks from playing in bands when I made my solo albums. That gets me motivated again because I then want to be in a band again. Making demos and recording is fun, I really like recording. But touring is hard sometimes. It’s fun playing live and meeting new fans, but travelling 7 hours a day is exhausting. But what else would I do? I could make hats or something haha.
Most of the bands you’ve played in have been fully female. Was that a conscious decision?
No, no I don’t think so. Well no actually. Autoclave started out with me just playing with friends, and it was just natural we way it turned out. Same with Wild Flag, it was just the way it happened. And when we started with Ex Hex, I found Laura [Harris, drummer] and we played with a few guys. But then we found Betsy [Wright, bassist] and it’s just the way it is. I don’t think about gender at all when we make music, we just be creative. You shouldn’t think about gender, you just do it.
Your solo material is a lot more minimalist than Ex Hex. Is there a big difference between making music on your own and in a group?
Oh definitely yes. As a solo artist I was just in a vacuum. The writing is similar, but in a band it helps because everyone can pitch ideas. It’s so much easier, I feel energised in a team. But my solo records? I guess the first two were minimal, but the third sounds just like a band. Actually we need to reissue that one, as it’s really difficult to find because the label [Lookout Records] disbanded and don’t exist anymore. It’s definitely the fans’ favourite of my solo records, so I want to reissue it. It’s just hard to find, well actually I guess it’s on iTunes actually haha. My first album was originally really rocky when we recorded it, but then we scrapped that and stripped it all back so it just ended up sounding like demos.
Have you got any other projects in mind creatively, be them musical or not?
Do I have any other projects? No. Well I’d like to play with other musicians obviously, but Ex Hex is our main focus at the moment, as is the new record. It’s good to take breaks, though I’m just a creative person so I always want to make music. So nothing that’s not musical.
As long as you keep making music that’s great! Thanks for your time and for being patient Mary!
No worries, thanks for the chat.