Ian Anderson 3 p.m., Dec. 12
And the Winner Is...
Tim Lowman, aka Low Volts, a one-man-band surprised even himself this year at the San Diego Music Awards when he took home Best Blues Album, Best New Artist, and Best Americana for another band he’s in called Blackout Party.
Dave Good: Now that you've won three SDMAs, and all in the same year, what's next?
Tim Lowman: “I'm so honored to have won those. I didn't plan on starting a one-man-act, nor did I plan on winning any awards, so it's tough to say what's next. I like to create a rough vision for what I want to see happen then let things naturally occur. I can tell you that a lot of touring is on the horizon. I wanna be playing different U.S. and European towns every night, getting tight and finishing new songs on the road. Sounding like a full band but only being one guy makes it easy to support a bigger act on tour. I can fit in their trunk.”
“I’d like to thank all my peers for pressuring me into drugs and alcohol.” This, from your acceptance speech at SDMA. Have any friends pressured you into recovery yet?
Lowman: “I think I'm more addicted to 'shock-value' than anything else! I didn't think I was gonna win anything that night so I didn't have any speeches written or planned. All I remember is Low Volts winning, me leaping off a balcony to accept the award and just thanking anyone I could think of. I'm glad I randomly said the peer pressure line but denial tells me none of it is true."
How long until we hear some new Volts?
Lowman: “I have a ton of new songs for the next record that I'd like to marinate on the road before they're cooked in the studio. It's gonna be a while but I can't wait to make the next record. Really excited to work with Mike Butler again, who co-produced and engineered Twist Shake Grind Break. So, in a nutshell, tour my ass off, make a new record. Repeat. In the meantime, I'm just trying to stay out of trouble.”
You favor old guitars and an ancient kick drum, but how about that amp? Great, meaty sound!
Lowman: “Ahh thanks man. That meaty sound recently became a value meal with the addition of a bass amp on stage. I like to feel the rumble of the music over hearing it and not having a bass player I've just been cranking the bass on my amp. At the last Casbah show I a/b'd a bass combo with a 15" speaker and now I can never go back. I've gone through a bunch of vintage Sears and Fender amps that have their place for certain applications but kept coming back to my trusty 1995 4/10 Blues DeVille. It's had a few mods and tube swaps and I've found it to be the most versatile, reliable, heavy sounding amp that I can carry without wheels. I think most of the 'meat' you are hearing is a blend of that amp and my '61 Silvertone archtop tuned lower than low. If I had the budget and the means to transport it, you'd be hearing a meat-locker's worth of TONE.”
That said, part of your sound is gear, but the other half comes from musicianship, yes?
Lowman: “I've been fortunate enough to be able to travel a good part of the world. I once saw a street musician in Marrakesh playing an Oud he had rigged to a car battery and an old record player speaker. It was the most Hessian, stripped down, dark and nasty tone I've ever heard. I've been to Gypsy pilgrimages in the south of France where people were singing with so much passion I thought I was going to witness a heart attack. I'd have to say my experiences and cultures abroad kind of shape the sound I've created. When I create music, or create anything for that matter, I want it to be timeless. Modern and classic at the same time. Something familiar but something you've never heard before. I don't use any drum machines or looping pedals, so it's real raw and dirty. As a one-man-band, if you crash and burn on stage, you crash and burn hard. That's kind of the beauty of doing what I do. You never know what's gonna happen, and I love every minute of it.”
Where is your biggest fan base located?
Lowman: “Low Volts has only been around about a year, so San Diego is the only place that's had a real dose. That's why touring is really important to me right now. I'm flying back to play some more shows in East Nashville in October during the AMA's. There's a really great scene out there and I can't wait to go back! I eventually want to stash kick drums in every major city, fly in, spend a week with good friends, play some shows, meet new people and slap stickers in the local dive bar bathrooms. Sounds ridiculous and far-fetched but how awesome would that be?”
Sounds like a sustainable business plan. But in the meanwhile, there’s art. Loved your series of bobber posters. How much of your creative life is spent as a graphic artist/designer?
Lowman: “Those posters were commissioned by the owners that built the motorcycles. I've been riding Harleys my entire life so it's a lot of fun to paint portraits of people's bikes for them. I guess I'm equal parts musician and artist. I've always teeter-tottered between the two. I have a steady graphic design client base that keeps me pretty busy designing apparel, branding materials and making rock posters. I basically make enough money to keep myself, my musical equipment and my Harley alive. I don't owe anybody anything and nobody owes me.”
Cool name, Low Volts. Are there any recurrent themes that run through your originals?
Lowman: “Does sex, drugs, and rock n' roll' ring a bell?”