For local fans of the 2001 comedy "Super Troopers," which has inspired a cult-ish fanbase over the years, meow is a good time to be alive: The long-awaited sequel has finally hit theaters (appropriately on April 20) -- and the film apparently features some great San Diego music, to boot.
Indeed, "Super Troopers 2" boasts not one, but two tracks from acts that should be familiar to anyone involved in the San Diego music scene: "All My Friends" by alt-Americana/rock group Blackout Party and "My Fixin'" by swampy-blues/one-man-band Low Volts (the solo project of Tim Lowman, who also plays guitar in Blackout Party).
While the Blackout fellas are currently on a lengthy hiatus after releasing their 2015 album "Float On Towards Our Doom" (lead singer/guitarist Brian Holwerda moved to Nashville around the time of its release so rehearsals and shows are kind of difficult to coordinate), Lowman has kept hard at work on his bewitching brand of high-octane, sorcerer-boogie rock by traveling around the country and releasing his third studio album this past January.
He talked with SoundDiego recently about what he's been up to the last couple years, the other Low Volts songs that've been featured in films/TV shows -- and offers advice to other musicians hoping to get into that side of the industry.
Dustin Lothspeich (DL): First thing's first -- how the heck are you, man? What are you up to these days?
Tim Lowman (TL): I’m really good, thanks! I headed out to Nashville to finish writing and recording the latest record and soak up the South for a spell. It was really great and I ended up staying there for a couple years. San Diego will always be home but it’s nice to have seasons and watch the trees change colors every now and then. I also needed to be in the middle of a city that revolves around music and the music business. I lived in East Nashville, where it’s more rock and roll-driven and, at the time, had a real bohemian kind of vibe. Currently, I’m based in San Diego but touring the country as much as possible.
DL: You’ve got a new album out; give me the lowdown on it.
TL: I just released [it] on January 31st during the super-blue blood moon! It’s called "Roam With You" and it's a record for road-trippers and space travelers ... I heard that Mike Butler at Lost Ark Studio, here in San Diego, got ahold of a '70s Trident [recording] console, some 2-inch tape machines and remodeled the studio so I rang him up to see what his schedule was like. Part of my original plan was to fly Butler out to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to FAME Studios to track and then mix it at Lost Ark, but when I heard about all the new additions, we both decided it would be more efficient if we just conquered everything in one house, and I’m glad we did. Plus [the studio's] right on the beach, I mean come on! Mike has co-produced, engineered and mixed all three Low Volts records; he really understands the ferocity I’m looking for in guitar and drum tones, plus he's a wizard in all aspects of music.
DL: Talk to me about “My Fixin’.” When did you write/record that song?
TL: I wrote and recorded the song "My Fixin'" while living in Golden Hill back in 2010. I actually recorded most of it, as a demo, in a tiny closet. When Butler and I went to make the first Low Volts album, "Twist Shake Grind Break," at White Horse Studio, I was having trouble with keeping tempo and there was just something about the closet recording that I couldn’t emulate, so we ran those tracks through their old Neve board and never looked back. It’s pretty raw and stripped down, a kinda punk-blues vibe. "My Fixin’" is just kind of a slang term for "my lovin’." You know, sex.
DL: How did you get that track placed in the movie?
TL: I’ve been working with the ReverbCONNECT program, which is a kind of boutique sub-division of ReverbNation. [Former ReverbNation A&R director] Matt DuFour brought me in early as he’s been a fan and friend for a long time. He’s since left and started his own agency in Nashville. From there, I started working with the publishing company Sentric Music, who seek placements in commercials, TV and film. My song roster is pretty diverse so it helps in fulfilling different moods and vibes for whatever scene they are trying to score.
DL: Were you surprised when you got word about 'Super Troopers 2'?
TL: Yes, I was super surprised and stoked! The first "Super Troopers" movie is a cult classic and to be a part of the sequel is an honor. Whenever I get word that I might have a song sync or crazy live-show opportunity, it always thrills me but in this industry it’s tough to get your hopes up as things can change in a hot minute, and they will. I usually don’t get that full blast of accomplishment until I’m right in the moment of it happening, but friends keep sending me screen shots of my name in the end credits of the film, so I guess this one actually happened! My ultimate dream is to get a track in a Tarantino film. That will be the moment that all of the sacrifices I’ve made to pursue this musical gypsy life will all wash away.
DL: Did they tell you what scene it’s going to be used in?
TL: They mentioned it might be in a brothel, bar or strip club scene [laughs] but I’m not sure, I haven’t seen it yet. Waiting for the boys in Blackout Party to get their s--- together so we can all scream in the theater together! I think we are going tomorrow, can’t wait! Even if the track is buried in the background, I’m just proud it made it from a tiny closet in Golden Hill to giant movie screens around the world!
DL: Are there any plans for Blackout Party to get back together and do a San Diego show at some point?
TL: Brian lives and works full time in Nashville. Jesse [Bowen, bassist], "Hoth" [Jeff Hawthorne, drummer] and Daniel [Crawford, guitarist] all play in 10,000 bands in San Diego and I’m on the road a bunch so it’s tough to get everyone in the same room. We have no plans to play again but there’s no bad blood or anything so you never know!
DL: This isn’t the first time you’ve had music placed in a film/TV show -- tell me about the others you’ve had?
TL: I think my first placement was on the show "Weeds" in its final season. That was really exciting and the track is played loud and proud during a roller derby scene. I was commissioned to write a song for the show "Reign" called "Deep Within the Forest" that’s kind of what Low Volts would sound like in 15th-century Scotland. Stone Brewing has commissioned music. There’s a biker film coming out soon featuring Tom Beringer called "American Dresser" I have a track in and I've had a couple syncs in the U.K. on some TV shows.
DL: Do you notice an uptick in interest or audiences after your music is used in something?
TL: I think it really depends on how the music is used and how it affects the listener if they are moved by it enough to research who wrote the music and dive into their catalog. It’s really great when an independent musician can get their music in films and other outlets. It’s a really tough time for the music business as a whole and streaming music services don’t compensate artists very fairly, so when you can get a little boost here and there, it helps pay for repairs to broken gear or somehow put the money back into making more music.
DL: Any tips for artists looking to get songs used in film/TV?
TL: I’d say keep writing and recording from the heart and soul. Stay away from trends. Keep things unique and dangerous. Record your songs the best you can within your means and get them out into the world. Play out and tour as much as possible and let things happen naturally. A lot of magic can happen when you run a steady course and do what you love. You will be found when the time is right.