Interview with Tim Hoppe of Suns of Thyme


 One of the things that I find interesting is how you blend various genres from completely different decades. How would you describe your music to those who’ve never heard it?


It is foremost rock music that relies as much on heavier riffing as it does on dreamy guitar arpeggios and far out synthesizer layers. But it still pop oriented when it comes to structures and the vocals even though it sometimes reaches into the realms of prog rock, I guess. We try to avoid genre terms because we simply do not know what is all in there. Most of it happens unconsciously as a result of listening to different kinds of music over the years. We are not influences by certain styles of music but rather by certain songs and those can differ widely. It is for others to decide what genre label they want to give us. Friends of ours once called our music Krautgaze when they were organizing a show for us. The name obviously combines Kraut Rock and Shoegaze. We found that fitting although it still doesn’t touch every aspect. But both of these genres themselves are widely discussed in terms of what they actually mean and what kind of music can be labeled with them. So we cast another stone into that pond.


Given the mix of different elements in your music, do you think it will appeal to a wider audience or a more specific crowd?

From our experience so far we think that it is both in a weird combination. We know metal and stoner people that really like us even though their friends might not at all and the same goes for retro 60s psychedelic, indie rock or goth people. We seem to attract a specific crowd amongst a wide field of styles as long as these people are open to something that doesn’t exactly just reproduce the stuff they already know. People that are close minded when it comes to music genres they like will definitely hate us.


I have to ask, who are your influences and how do they manifest themselves in your music?

This is very difficult to answer. Since we are five people who are writing the songs. Everyone has a slightly different background and actually only have a small amount of artists that we all like equally. Some of us come from an indie rock background because this was the music we were listening to when we were teenagers. Others were heavily into stoner rock and 60s music when they started making music themselves.

I can say for myself that I was listening to a lot of indie rock like Interpol and neo psychedelic rock like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Angels or Blue Angel Lounge and classics like Velvet Underground when I started playing guitar with 18. But so much other music came to influence me since then. But what I took from these first inputs was that the simplest guitar riff can make a song great. It is not necessary to have overly complex riffing or solos to make someone feel something when they listen to it. Three notes can mean the world to somebody else.


As a prog website, I do consider you guys to be prog. But do you guys consider yourselves that or am I just hearing things for my own benefit? (hahaha)

I think too many songs have a more or less classic pop structure and are simply too short to be considered prog songs. But others totally break these structures. We heard people relating us to prog music before. We barely listen to it ourselves. I never got much further than Mogwai. So since we are not that into prog music we cannot make the connection there. That is totally up to you to decide!


One thing I’ve noticed is that even if you have a foot in the past, it’s hard to classify you all as a “retro” band. Was that a conscious effort or something that just happened?

It just happened in a way but we actually never wanted to be a retro band because we thought this would be boring. I mean these days you can dress and live any way you choose. We happen to like certain styles that are considered retro. We also like a lot of things from the past when it comes to gear and instruments – I love my 74 Fender Pro Reverb as much as Tobi our singer loves his 64 Fender Jazzmaster. But we love them for their own inner beauty and sound not because they represent another time that we want to tap into.

Like Homer Simpson said: “People wear clothes from the past and use technology from the future.” This is just the time we live in, I guess. None of it is our conscious decision like: “Man, music from the 60s was way better than the music now. Let’s just do that.” This never happened in the band. We are into too much different stuff. In the time of streaming music you are always listening to playlists with your favourite tracks and there you can jump from the 50s to the 80s to the 2000s and back within minutes and that makes it all equally influential to what you produce yourself. I have the Revolver LP from the Beatles next to In Rainbows LP from Radiohead. You know what I mean?


On “Cascades,” do you all have favorite tracks, both in general and to play live?

Also difficult to answer since everyone might have a different one. I think we would all agree that Rush, Schweben, Aphelion and Intuition Unbound are tracks that we all are very fond of and that we really like to play live. We worked on the arrangements for quite some time and had a decent amount of struggle in the process. So we are very proud of the outcome.


Speaking of playing live, what are your touring plans? What would be the best fit for you guys as far as being on a bill with other acts?

We will be on tour in September and October, in Germany as well as in the rest of Europe. Our bookers try to get us as much shows right now as possible. Aside from that we have to see what comes around. Touring outside Europe is very expensive and especially the US. Compared with how easy it is for American artists to tour in Europe it is kind of unfair how hard you have to work to tour the US. Not even getting a decent tour organized but to get all the papers and permissions. Getting the visa so that you can tour legally is a struggle – I have to address this because too many people are unaware of this and the resulting inequality between American and European bands.

We would really like to support Black Mountain on a tour. We think the styles are quite fitting. Besides that there are many other artists. We supported The Dandy Warhols a while ago which was nice. I think we would like to do that again. And a band I would like to support simply because I finally want to see them live and they never played in Germany before is Black Moth Super Rainbow.

To read my review of “Cascades,” click here.

To purchase “Cascades,” click here.



About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music!
This entry was posted in art rock, krautrock, progressive rock, psych rock, shoegaze and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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