A Conversation with Tim McLaughlin from Eleven Eyes
Nate Gartrell, EDN
Eleven Eyes is a local band that plays upbeat, jazz, and also incorporates a modern electronic sound. The Portland Tribune called them “impossible to categorize,” and the six of them combined know how to play at least 20 different instruments.
On May 3rd, 2012, Eleven Eyes is scheduled to play at a benefit show at the McDonald Theater, for the Nima’s Wish Foundation, a Eugene-based charity dedicated to raise money for aid to impoverished West Africans. Nima’s Wish was founded by the parents of Nima Gibba, a girl killed by a drunk driver three years ago in one of Eugene’s deadliest car crashes.
Recently, Eugene Daily News got a chance to speak with Eleven Eyes member Tim McLaughlin, who officially is listed as the group’s “trumpet, efx, laptop, samples, keys, beat programming, and percussion” player, but can also play guitar.
Eugene Daily News: How did you all come together as a group?
Tim McLaughlin I graduated from the U of O, and pulled together some people I was playing with at the time. Some of those people are still in the group, and we have some fresh blood in the band. We’re all friends, and in Eugene it’s a tight musical community, which lets you pick and chose who you play with.
EDN: Sounds like they’ve got you doing a bunch of things onstage. Can you clarify your role with the group?
TM: Well, it definitely keeps me on my toes, I get to have a lot of fun. I’ve been playing trumpet in the band forever, and been playing guitar for as long as that. But I also do a lot of looping, or add a little bit of texture; a little guitar for a second, then bring some trumpet back. Or I’ll add some keyboard sounds, or some stuff from my laptop rig.
It’s kind of a big pallet, I guess. In this particular band, it doesn’t seem necessary to have guitar or trumpet the whole time. It’s nice to diversify the sound, and keep things interesting.
EDN: Do you improvise when you’re onstage, or how much of a game plan do you bring to an average performance?
We definitely have songs and compositions, but the greatest thing about this band is that we improvise the structure–not just improvising solos–everyone does that. It’s more about improvising the structure of the compositions, changing arrangements. We have a sophisticated set of cues, so we know how to get from one thing to another on the turn of a dime without necessarily talking about it.
We’ve been on a lot of tours over the years, and it’s obvious when we’re playing in places like Colorado, or Washington, or Eugene, that there’s a real open-mindedness to creative, original music. But, we’ve played in places like LA, where there’s a real structured scene–people try to fit in a format of a certain sound or genre, and we definitely stick out like a sore thumb in those types of places.
EDN: What types of music influence you guys? Where’s your musical background?
TM: We’re all inspired by the masters of our instruments, and also by their concepts. I’m inspired by Miles Davis’ concept of being able to morph his band and adapt to situations depending on who he was playing for. I really appreciate that aspect of music.
We’ve all been into an electronica sound, but at the same time, we’ve been playing a lot of Afro beats. We naturally merge them together, usually without even talking about it; we just start to play.
EDN: Do you have any upcoming shows, or releases people should know about?
We’re actually going into the studio this weekend. We’re doing a live setting–just a bunch of high quality room mics and we’ll do everything live, with no overdubbing or anything. We’ll do full takes and we’re trying to get an analog sound to go with our electronica, funkadellic, Afro beat sound that we normally.
We want an old school recording, and we’re excited about it. We’re looking at a CD release show for that on June 9.
The Nima’s Wish Foundation concert will be on May 3, 2012, from 6:30-Midnight, at the MacDonald Theater in Eugene.