Interview: Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree
Text, Photos, & Video by Tim Borland
Update: The Polyphonic Spree’s New Orleans, La. performance is rescheduled for Sunday August 31 at the Southport Music Hall venue. They will also play The Loft @ Center Stage in Atlanta, Ga Saturday August 30. Tickets are as low as $18 for the 2014 Psychphonic Summer Tour ~
Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree has always marched to the beat of his own drummer. The charismatic conductor of choral symphonic rock band from Dallas, Texas has toured the world espousing a common theme of the importance of life. The band’s positivity has inspired numerous fans in addition to the kaleidoscopic wake of robes and stage lighting.
“I hardly ever worked for anybody, I always did my own kind of thing. My father was an entrepreneur, self-supporter, self-employed. I kind of followed the same path. I gravitated to a different side of the record business,” DeLaughter said.
His independent approach to music involves running a record label and a music store while maintaining a band with a loyal fanbase. While major labels may crumble under the pressure of selling platinum acts, many independent music businesses are able to continue relatively unscathed by modern trends.
“If you can connect with people, then you can make things happen. People want to be a part of something good and something they are interested in, that turns them on,” DeLaughter explained.
A dedicated work ethic is part of what has kept many fans enamored with the Polyphonic Spree for over 13 years. While the ensemble includes traditional rock instruments like guitar, bass, drums, and electric keys, there are numerous other colors in the sonic palette. Flute, harp, timpani, trombone, cello, French horn, and more are present, layering simple melodies with complex arrangements.
“The songs have always started extremely bare, whether on piano or guitar … I just write the songs and bring them to the band. We talk about them, jam on them, and work on the arrangements of how we want to bring people in and out and how we want to make this thing sound,” DeLaughter shared.
The Polyphonic Spree is currently touring in support of their recently released album Yes Its True and the new remix collection entitled Psychphonic, both of which are available on iTunes. Music videos for Yes Its True singles “You Don’t Know Me” and “Popular By Design” were released earlier year. DeLaughter revealed that the track “You’re Golden” was written for his daughter, and that “Battlefield” describes the struggles of marriage.
“All the songs are from different periods of time; that’s the beauty of this record. Its difficult to have that much variety on an album without it sounding like a piece together Frankenstein. This record sounds like a greatest hits record the way it flows … they are just great songs I wanted to share with everybody,” DeLaughter suggested.
The Polyphonic Spree began as somewhat of a fresh for the songwriter. His original band Tripping Daisy achieved success, especially with the hit single “I Got A Girl,” but the project stalled when guitarist Wes Berggren died due to a drug overdose in 1999. The Polyphonic Spree became a way to explore new sounds in the studio, and to express a newfound perspective.
“[Tripping Daisy] had a profound effect on me when Wes died, but my daughter had a profound effect on me when she was born, and those things happened around the same time … I think [The Polyphonic Spree] became much more of a theme around life, and more of a directive. More mature songs from a more mature lyricist. I have been fortunate enough to have music as a muse and to be able to express myself that way,” DeLaughter reflected.
While approximately eight core members anchor the group, such as original Tripping Daisy bassist Mark Pirro, the other instrumental positions are filled by a revolving door of guest musicians. Nearly 100 people have contributed to The Polyphonic Spree in some fashion over the years.
“Its always a different experience when you get a new group of musicians together … I think its really great because there is always a fresh new perspective and energy that comes into the band,” DeLaughter described.
The musician has always been proud of his Texan origins.
“I love Texas. I was born and raised in Dallas, and I live there to this day … Texas is a crazy place, extremely dynamic, and a massive state … I think it has a lot to do with who I am and what kind of music I am making,” DeLaughter said.
The logistics of touring with a symphony-size ensemble provide their own unique challenges, such as special tour buses and shared hotel rooms. Fans can donate gas for the current tour on the band’s website. DeLaughter’s wife Julie manages the band, and together they raise their four children. Somehow the frontman has made a living working in a artistic field that he is passionate about.
“Success is being able to pay your bills, being able to live the way you want to live and support your art at the same time. Some people demand a lot more and that pretty much dictates where they are going or not going. I’ve never been a greedy person, I have just wanted my lifestyle to be able to sustain my family … Its extremely expensive to do what I do, so its not like I am going to make a lot of money with this band … I just want to be able to do what I am doing,” DeLaughter expounded.
The Polyphonic Spree live in Houston, Texas 2013
The Polyphonic Spree represent the best of what can occur when a DIY attitude merges with a great band concept and music that moves audiences.
“The future is unknown to me, I’m just dealing with the now,” DeLaughter said.
-For more information about the current tour, explore our links below-