“It can sound like a cliché to say that creativity or art or writing or music can save your life, but in Tim’s case, I think it’s literal to the last degree.”
Author and instructor Valley Haggard doesn’t usually communicate publicly about her college students’ work. Her Life in 10 Minutes workshops are designed to assist writers of all expertise ranges and ambitions dive deep into their artistic consciousness, emphasizing writing by hand, sharing aloud and intentional listening. It’s a sacred house. In truth, a disclaimer is so as:
“Tim encouraged me to be very candid about my experience with his mental health and his writing,” Haggard says, “and normally I would not ever speak directly about a student or friend in this way.”
It’s not the one approach Timothy Bailey, chief of Richmond-based rock group Timothy Bailey & The Humans, stands out to Haggard. Early in his time with Life in 10 Minutes, Haggard may inform one thing particular was occurring.
“At one point I remember thinking, ‘I feel like I have one of the greats — a great literary mind — in my classroom,’” she says. “He has an incredible range of skill in writing, with an endless depth of material to draw from.”
Prior to the mid-2010s, when Bailey started taking part in Haggard’s workshops, he was struggling to carry the deepest-seated materials, which incorporates early and extended baby abuse, to the floor. He first fashioned The Humans in 2006, and the group launched a five-song EP on Richmond-based Cherub Records that 12 months, however Bailey hit the reset button and reformed the group following a 2009 decline in his psychological well being.
“Apart from [therapy], I figured that the worst stuff in me was unacceptable to talk about. The abuse, and the difficulties of it remaining in my present when I’d like it to be in the past. In Valley’s group, I would write these brutal truths, and people would just accept it.”
“He’s allowed himself to unravel these stories [where] there’s immense pain,” Haggard says. “There’s immense suffering, but the reason we’ll go anywhere with Tim is because the language is so beautiful. There’s so much humor, there’s so much tenderness, and there’s so much humanity. It’s not like he takes us into a dark pit and leaves us there. He takes us on this very, very human ride.”
With his upcoming self-titled album “Timothy Bailey & The Humans,” his first full-length effort main the group, Bailey is giving these outdoors the writing workshop a seat on that trip, beginning with hovering lead single “Ellington Bridge.” The album as been a lifetime within the making, although it couldn’t have been rendered so efficiently at every other level.
Seeing Bailey work within the studio is like watching two frustratingly divergent timelines lastly converge within the current. In a kind of timelines, he’s a assured craftsman able to charting preparations and articulating his artistic imaginative and prescient when it issues. Bailey was born in Virginia Beach, attended Cox High School, and went on to review music on the post-secondary degree — for a short while at William Paterson University in New Jersey and later at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“It’s a pretty fascinating thing for an artist to arrive on the scene fully formed,” co-producer and Creative Capital grantee Bob Massey says. “Tim has had all these years to really think through what his aesthetic values are.”
Bailey and his band, which incorporates guitarist Ben Nicastro, bassist Doyle Hull, drummer Go Weatherford and violinist Melissa Sunderland Jones, walked into Richmond’s Spacebomb Studios in December of 2021 exceptionally effectively ready. Pre-production rehearsals paid dividends within the type of speedy guitar, bass and drum monitoring that put the undertaking forward of schedule.
“He wrote arrangements and charts for everything,” Massey says of Bailey, who may even be credited as a co-producer on the sonically detailed album. “He worked with this band to collaborate on making this thing tight, and then they showed up in the studio and knocked out the basic tracks in the studio in two days. That’s unheard of. That’s like Muscle Shoals, or the Wrecking Crew. That thing doesn’t exist anymore.”
“We’re a sensitive group of people,” Bailey says of The Humans. “I think the thing that helps that, in addition to the sheer amount of time that you spend with someone, is spending time in a band that listens to one another. That’s not always a given. It’s been kind of astonishing.”
Bailey wasn’t simply main his personal band. The album options contributions from standout Richmond-based session expertise, together with trumpeter Bob Miller, vocalists Liza Kate and Erin Lunsford and keyboard polymath Curt Sydnor.
Sydnor joins Bailey on the album’s emotional low level, a sparse and wrenching ballad entitled “Yours Truly.” “It’s a grim, grim, painful tune, even to sing,” Bailey says. “But [Curt] has so much intelligence and horsepower under the hood, and it’s a simple song, so collaborating with him to find the perfect overlap between all of that knowledge and skill and the intention of the song was so fun.”
While Bailey’s charts supplied directions for every session participant, he was stunned seeing these elements come to life. Erin Lunsford’s singing on “Unseen Ocean” was particularly highly effective. “She sang the part more or less as written,” Bailey remembers, “but with such skill and with such finesse, I just started weeping. At the end of the take, she turns over to say, ‘Was that okay?’ and she looks at me and I have tears streaming down my face, and she was kind of like, ‘Aw buddy, it’s okay.’It was unreal.”
It’s in reactions like that one which the second timeline turns into seen: that of an artist who has skilled setback after setback, and who, consequently, is uniquely positioned to soak within the joys of creating a correct debut LP. “I’m 49 years old,” he notes, “and the experience of making this record — I am not exaggerating — is the first time I ever felt like I did my own meaningful work.”
“That’s what makes this record unique,” says Chad Clark, who co-produced and combined the album, and who releases critically acclaimed music below the identify Beauty Pill. “In a way, he’s kind of a kid, but in a way he’s definitely not a kid at all … I think those are the traits that people will fall in love with, all of those contradictions about him.”
Bailey created in depth demo tracks with synthesized MIDI instrumentation, which any arranger will inform you pales compared to the actual factor. The first participant outdoors the band to contribute within the studio was French horn participant Amanda Burton. “It just gave me goosebumps,” Bailey says. “When those overdubs started happening, it was spine-tingling a lot of the time.”
“He’s a middle aged guy, and he’s not made an album before,” Clark says. “He gets very excited in ways that someone who’s 21 gets excited, and he’s self-aware enough to recognize that he sounds young sometimes.”
There’s a draw back to that newness, although, and Clark witnessed that as effectively throughout his time at Spacebomb. Clark describes a session by which Bailey, whom Clark praises for high-level artistry, knowledgeable musical communication and compositional information that exceeds his personal, was thrown off by the exact, clear sound of the studio’s piano.
“It was something that he was having trouble adjusting to,” Clark says. “It was a moment where he had to reckon with, ‘This is not what I envisioned. It’s different from what I hoped.’ It was definitely a very dramatic moment, and everybody that was in the room at that moment kind of held their breath. None of us want to upset him, but it’s really important to keep going.”
Bailey’s is just not merely a narrative of resilience — of diligently combating by way of obstacles. There have been durations of his life when he couldn’t preserve going, and consequently, Bailey has misplaced time, each in his music profession and in a extra literal sense. He describes not remembering “huge swaths” of his childhood, and he’s skilled a number of psychiatric hospitalizations. He’s carried his therapist’s telephone quantity on a bit of paper in his pocket, utilizing it greater than as soon as upon discovering himself strolling in Washington, D.C., not figuring out who he was.
Producer Bob Massey has seen these struggles up shut. They had been each residing in Washington within the early 2000s, and Massey requested Bailey for assist with demos for a recording undertaking. The outcomes had been each spectacular and alarming.
“I described the thing I wanted,” Massey remembers, “which was this languid guitar solo, and he proceeded to shred like Eddie Van Halen and couldn’t stop. It was the most tangible view of mental illness that I’d seen. I was like, ‘Oh, he’s kind of here and kind of not here.’ But it was amazing to watch the fireworks at the same time.”
Massey and Bailey first met within the mid-Nineties as two musicians aiming to launch careers out of Richmond’s indie scene — Bailey together with his group Schwa and Massey together with his group Jettison Charlie. The two grew to become artistic confidants, sharing songs with each other, and sharing frustrations round attempting to interrupt by way of. “Life for young artists is hard, and so it helps to have someone you can complain to and get recommendations from, and get support,” Massey says.
They’ve maintained a connection within the years since, by way of relocations — Massey moved to Los Angeles after residing in Washington, whereas Bailey moved again to Richmond — and thru occasions by which Bailey was struggling. Through Bailey’s work in a number of bands, his enrollment and exit from a University of Maryland counseling psychology PhD program, and the rise and fall of a woodworking enterprise.
“It’s just crushing to see a guy that is clearly brilliant across a spectrum of idioms unable to close the deal on anything because he’s constantly being kneecapped by his own brain chemistry,” Massey concludes. “At a certain point you just go, ‘This guy needs a f—ing break. How do we engineer this?’”
Timothy Bailey, meet Chad Clark. Massey and Clark first crossed paths a few a long time in the past, in the course of the time Massey was energetic within the district’s music scene. Massey’s personal discography consists of Clark’s manufacturing work, and with since-confessed ulterior motives in thoughts, Massey really helpful Bailey and Clark get collectively so the previous may choose the latter’s mind about methods to reconcile recording plans with the accessible assets.
“There’s a joke in Hollywood that if you want money, ask for advice, and if you want advice, ask for money,” Massey says. “I was like, ‘Why don’t I put you in touch with Chad, and you ask him for advice about how to do an ambitious recording on the cheap, because he excels at that.’”
Shortly after that preliminary assembly, which occurred in January of 2020, Bailey requested Clark to supply the album. In addition to his Beauty Pill bona fides, Clark brings to the desk era-spanning manufacturing and mixing expertise, together with work with legendary Washington, D.C.-based bands Fugazi and the Dismemberment Plan. “Chad is, I think it’s fair to say, a kind of genius,” Bailey notes. “He’s recognized as such in certain quarters of post-rock music production — the kind of guy who other engineers and producers look up to.”
“It’s such a massive privilege to have him involved because of his skill,” Bailey provides, “and the collaborative vibe has been so cool. We’re working from sympathetic but different aesthetic concerns.”
That sympathetic connection goes past music. In 2007, Clark was stricken with a viral coronary heart an infection that’s usually deadly, and whereas emergency open-heart surgical procedure saved his life, his well being requires ongoing monitoring. (Another an infection landed him within the hospital in March.) “I honestly don’t know how long my life will be,” he says. “I hope I live a long life, but it wouldn’t be shocking for me to die young.”
“He’s dealing with a health issue that is ongoing, and so am I,” Bailey says of Clark. “Mine is a mental health issue, but he and I have something in common — being someone whose health is not a given. It’s a part of the work we each do.”
Clark agrees. “I think it means we can’t f— around, basically. It’s not light what we’re doing.”
Bailey cites a prolonged hospitalization of his personal, a psychiatric one in 2013, as a pivotal second. It was round that point that he learn Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Road,” which chronicles a father and son’s grueling battle to outlive after an extinction occasion. “It’s such a fearless work of art,” Bailey says. “It paints a portrait of what it really is to be without hope — to be in genuine despair. And then it gets worse.”
But Bailey was struck at how hope begins to shine by way of close to the novel’s conclusion. “That’s what it felt like to me,” he says. “Because after that hospitalization in 2013, I just was beginning to glimpse the idea that maybe — maybe — it could improve.”
Bailey has turned that glimmer into an animating concept he calls the credible message of hope, and his wealthy baritone is a chic car for hard-earned optimism. The narratives on “Timothy Bailey & The Humans” are undeniably weighty, from the damaging sexual relationship in “Weird Animal” (“You can never ride me hard enough with your sensitive soul”) to the insidious charisma of the title character in “Great Man Singing” (“You give the guy a pass when he’s good at playing creepy”). Still, the potential of triumph emerges, even in bleak circumstances. As the conclusion of “Ellington Bridge” places it, “Maybe we’ll rise beyond this night.”
“My answer to ‘Can it get better?’ is never ‘Absolutely. You’re gonna be fine. You can go through these extreme moments of human despair and it’s gonna be fine,’” Bailey says. “It’s more like, ‘With imagination and with connection, maybe it really can.’”
By setting these traumas to tune, Bailey is charting a daring path ahead. Chad Clark sees it as transformative. “I don’t want to be too hyperbolic,” Clark says, “but I hope Tim becomes an important figure. I think that the record could be very important. I think that there are people who are going to latch onto Tim as someone who has spoken for them in a pretty bold and good way.”
Bob Massey additionally sees significance within the timing of this step in Bailey’s artistic life. “The culture values prodigies but discounts late-bloomers,” he says. “But I think the late-bloomer often has a lot more to offer than the prodigy. In this case, it’s an entire lifetime of experience, wisdom, skills and musicality, and it’s music for grown-ups. It’s music for people who have suffered and who have loved and who have come through the other side, or maybe are still not there yet.”
Valley Haggard has seen Bailey’s impression on an viewers firsthand.
“We were mesmerized,” she says of a 2019 Timothy Bailey & The Humans efficiency at Gallery5 that was a part of a fundraiser for Life in 10 Minutes. The first set featured Haggard’s college students studying their work, and Bailey’s band adopted, pairing the writing that occurs within the workshop with one illustration of artistry that has blossomed from it.
“The music is this one beautiful thing unto itself,” Haggard says, “however the way in which that he integrated storytelling in between the songs, and the persona of Timothy Bailey that he created to create this narrative, it simply amplified the expertise of the music.”
While agency plans aren’t but in place, there’s more likely to be an in-town present along with the total album’s launch, which is projected for mid-July. It guarantees to be a rewarding milestone for Bailey — “Seeing [the album] come to fruition is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” he says — and for Haggard as effectively.
“What I feel is joy,” she says. “I feel pride. I feel triumph to see somebody who has suffered from severe, debilitating mental illness for most of his life — to the point of being incapacitated– be able to realize this dream. It’s just incredible to watch. It’s literally watching a dream come true.”
To hear “Ellington Bridge,” go to timothybaileyandthehumans.bandcamp.com. For extra details about the upcoming self-titled Timothy Bailey & The Humans album, go to timothybaileyandthehumans.com.