TIM’S FAVOURITE – A Talk With JAN PAUWELS (Vocals/Guitars)

Posted on September 26th. 2018

Questionnaire by Officer Nice on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM


Hello, here’s Rico, a.k.a. officer Nice from the Metal To Infinity’s webzine. I made the review about the album and I have some questions for you, hope you’ll enjoy them.

Officer Nice: Tim’s Favourite is no common name for a Metal band. SO please, tell our readers what the story is behind the name and introduce us to the musicians.

Jan: Well, Tim’s Favourite originated years ago in the dark recesses of my unfathomable mind. Haha! Actually the initial name of the band was Heart of Darkness (that was inspired the book by Joseph Conrad, yes), but for some reason we considered that too… ‘deathmetallish’.

So when one enlightened day I found my then three-year-old nephew Tim with a pair of headphones on and completely enthralled by his uncle’s music, we had our new bandname. We figured that name sounded a ‘little bit’ less typically metal and bombastic (that’s probably the understatement of the year). And maybe people might appreciate it that we didn’t take ourselves too serious.

 

Officer Nice: Can you tell us, musical wise, what this band is all about and what the main influences were when you started writing the music.

Jan: What this band is all about? Writing good songs, period. Next question please. Haha!

Ok, let’s maybe be a bit more explanatory on that. Our main influences are to be found in the metal genre, there’s no denying that. Probably that’s just a logical consequence of the scientifically proven fact that heavy metal is thé superior genre in mus… What? You don’t agree? Ok then, the interview is over.

Got you there! Haha!

Of course we had never heard of Tool nor Alice in Chains before you mentioned them in your review. Soundgarden? Metallica? Nope. Never heard of. Intronaut? Who?

Seriously, those bands are pretty straightforward influences. I guess anyone familiar with them can hear that while listening to our music. What we, as a band, have always, from the very beginning, tried to do was to combine metal with a sort of psychedelic, (middle-)eastern (Arabic?), even trance-like melancholia. I don’t know whether we have ever really succeeded in conveying that particular feel, but at least it’s what we try to do. And that blend is also what the label ‘zen metal’ is meant to capture. I think hearing the Doors’ ‘‘The End” when I was a younster was probably the main trigger for that. That and the Beatles of course. Probably the best rockband in the world ever, if you ask me. And if you don’t agree on that than the interview is over as well. Haha!

 

Officer Nice: The name of the album and the front cover… Please, tell us more about it.

Jan: Are you in a hurry? Allright, here goes. “We, the Willing” (the title) is in the first place a sort of ironic allusion to the philosophical conundrum of ‘free will’. It’s also, by the way, the theme of at least one of the songs (“The Day Free Will Was Disproven”) on the album. We admit that it’s probably not the most sexy topic to write a metal album around, but, then again, neither is getting your balls to the wall, to name but one metal classic, if you ask me. Anyway, free will. I think the idea is a deeply religious (even more sexy!) one. Some philosophers will tell you that freedom is a by-product of the immensely complex human brain but I don’t think the existence of free will ever be proven (or disproven) scientifically, (just like I think it’s impossible to prove (nor disprove) scientifically whether there’s a God or not).

But more to the point: I used to think that believing in free will was a thoroughly bad thing to do because, so I thought, this belief would make people arrogant and narcistic. Let me explain: Donald Trump i.e. appearantly once said in an interview that he ‘only’ received about 30 million dollars from his parents and that was it. Trump definitely believes that he worked himself up, from ‘rags to riches’, as the sayin goes, using nothing but his strong, free will. And he probably thinks that anyone, however poor, can make it too. So this belief in free will makes Trump in my opinion thé embodiment of the American Dream at its most arrogant and dangerous.

But now, if, on the other hand, a poor person in the U.S. hears that there’s no such thing as free will, that can be a pretty devastating and paralysing idea to him/her. Believing in free will is maybe (!) an illusion, but to this poor person it can be a pretty hopeful one. Without this illusion, he/she has every rational reason (especially in the States where there’s no social security) to simply give up. And maybe even commit suicide. So there’s two sides to this belief in free will. The same, by the way, probably holds for believing in a God.

And that’s of cours where the drawing on the front cover comes in. You probably gathered that it’s a caricature representing thé symbol of this Western belief in freedom and free will: the Statue of Liberty, Lady Liberty. And you probably also noticed that it’s a pretty ‘childish’ representation. A stubborn, pigheaded, (‘WILfull’), sulking, childish American icon at this very moment, I don’t know what you are thinking of, but to me, one name immediately comes to mind…

The child is also being offered a hand. Some people will probably immediately think of the hand of God and that’s fine with me. Like I said, believing in a rewarding God can be a very hopeful idea (especially when you’re a poor person in the U.S.). But this hand can just as well be the hand of a friend, a parent, a… social security system. The point is, in my opinion we all need help from someone or something outside ourselves. Something else, that is, than our own… free will. Even the most stubborn, pigheaded, (‘WILfull’), sulking, childish American icon at this very moment got help from outside, however much he will tell us the opposite.

Before I forget, at this point, I would also like to send my ‘xtra fuckin’ yahooz (does that sound familiar?) to Marcuz Weemaels, the artist who made the drawing (and actually the entire artwork is his), using nothing but a ballpoint. He’s a real genius!

 

Officer Nice: Anyway, what can you tell us about the lyrics? What are the main messages behind the songs?

Jan: Well, basically they’re all love songs.

Just kidding. We don’t write love songs. Unless they’re about beer.

Whatever. I guess most of the songs are more or less related to what the drawing on the frontcover stands for.

‘The Capital Lie’ is a direct allusion to what’s probably the most widely-discussed (and in the States controversial) book on economics of the last 30 or so years. It basically says that capitalism is more and more becoming a system where ever growing wealth is not the result of hard work anymore, but of being born rich in the first place. Capital, not labour, creates even more capital. Not exactly a celebration of ‘the American Dream’, that is.

‘The Day Free Will Was Disproven’, which, like I said before, deals with free will, more specifically describes a sort of thought experiment: What would happen if, one day, scientists proved that free will didn’t exist? Would the world become a better or a worse place? Or would we, humans, just resume our lives (and our wars and business as usual) as if nothing had happened?

‘Galilei Was a Believer (Discussion Closed)’ deals with a typically European (maybe most of all French) phenomenon that I would like to call ‘enlightenment fundamentalism’: the growing intolerance towards religious signs in our public spaces or in the public sphere . Religious people are more and more forced to literally hide their identity behind their walls, and I don’t think that’s a very healthy evolution. Although I’m an atheist myself, I think that religion is such a fundamentally human phenomenon (we, human beings,  are the only animals who can imagine there maybe being a God) that, in my opinion, we need to talk about it instead of turning it into a taboo. All the more so since religion is here to stay (it’s even growing), whether we atheists like it or not. It goes without saying that the ever growing number of muslims in Europe contributes to this intolerance towards religious signs.

‘No Means No’ describes the thoughts that go through a person’s mind during what is probably one of the most ‘free will debunking’ and horrible experiences a human being can have in his/her life: depression. Depression is something that can come, so to speak, out of the blue, for no clear reason, and it almost feels like being forced to say ‘no’ to life, whence the title.

The legacy in ‘A Legacy’ refers to a predisposition to certain – erm – what I would call, ‘less positive’ inclinations I personally have been struggling with my entire life. I sometimes fear that this predisposition is genetically programmed into my constition. Again, as you already guessed: not quite ‘free will affirming’.

‘Narrative’ basically questions the stories or the justifications or the reasons we make up everyday for some of our less admirable streaks so as to be able to turn a blind eye to them. While, again, it’s all maybe just meaningless.

‘Cashdance’: If there’s one thing that made the financial crisis of 2008 possible, then it’s this: our dancing to the sound of money. Not a pretty sight when you look into it. And, again, not exactly ‘free will confirming’. On the contrary: again and again, economic crises prove to be caused, to a very high degree, by our oh so human herd instinct.

‘This Lot’, a bit like ‘Narrative’, derides our constant denying what we really are.

‘The Unbearable Lightness of the New Atheism’ is a mockery of a philosophical movement, called the ‘New Atheism’, whose firm conviction it is that the root of all evil in the world is religion (or at least that religion causes nothing but evil). I’m an atheist myself but I don’t believe for a second that getting rid of religion (as these people would like to, they see religion as a disease) would turn the world into a fundamentally better place. Let’s not forget that our European atheism is the exception to the worldwide rule.

If you want to get rid of religion, genocide is always lurking around the corner. We saw that during the Holocaust. And there’s even a lot to be said for the idea that one of our most cherished Western beliefs, freedom and free will, is, as mentioned before, a fundamentally religious notion. In fact, just about any evolutionary scientist will tell you that there is no such thing as free will. Scientifically, we’re all slaves to our genes, period. And yet Richard Dawkins, probably the most well-known of these ‘new atheists’ and author of ‘the God Delusion’, after having tried to prove for more than 300 pages long that we’re all slaves to our selfish genes, all of sudden, at the end of ‘The Selfish Gene’, literally writes that we, human beings, for some mysterious reason, can rebel against our own genes! Explain that scientifically!

Free will, again, is a fundamentally unscientific notion. And the belief in it, just like the belief in a God, can move people to do fantastic things (think about Pater Damiaan, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King…) but also to commit horrible crimes (ISIS, the inquisition,…). Atheism isn’t going to make the human animal less cruel nor crueller. Mussolini, to name but one, was an extreme atheist. So, in my opinion, religion (nor atheism) nor believing in a God isn’t the problem. Deeming oneself an infallible God or, in other words, being an fundamentalist, thát is the problem. And you don’t need to believe in a God to be a fundamentalist. Did you know that the very first ‘New Atheist’ book (‘The End of Faith’ by Sam Harris) contains a chapter pleading FOR torture? Enough on that.

‘(W)hole’ is about something I was confronted with during an extremely hard period in my life: the irrational belief among many psychologists that everything they tell you is based on science. Even their belief in… free will.

‘Requiem for a Dream’, last but not least, is a song that deals with something I’d rather not go into it. Let the music and the lyrics speak for themselves..

 

Officer Nice: I have seen this record in some bigger music stores and media stores. So, there is support for it. How does it work out until now?

Jan: So far, it’s available in all Fnac shops in Belgium and you can listen to it on just about any streaming platform. It’s an independent release so we don’t have a record deal (yet). But, dear record labels, we’re open to any interesting offer.

Officer Nice: Did you read our review? Agrees and disagrees?

Jan: I think we can agree with about 99% of what you wrote, so my congratulations! The influences you detected in our music are absolutely dead on. And our incredibly unique style (“very hard, even impossible, to label”, as you wrote), hell we couldn’t agree more! Haha! There’s only one thing we can’t possibly agree with: our so-called ‘bizarre’ name. Why don’t you just admit it: it’s the most evil name for a band you have ever heard in your entire life! Whatever. I guess we were just a little bit too drunk when we decided to go for it.

 

Officer Nice: How where the reviews worldwide?

Jan: Well, so far, pretty good to downright superlative, if I may say so. We only once got a less  positive review (6,5 out of 10) from some barbarian (haha!) who admitted that he didn’t like grunge tout-court. What else did you expect?

 

Officer Nice: The album was the first step, the second step is starting to play live? Is there a tour planned or are we able to see Tim’s Favourite on stage very soon?

Jan: Playing live is indeed the plan, would you believe it! The thing is, the aforementioned reluctance to being boxed in under one label doesn’t make it any easier for us to sell our music to concert organizers. We don’t seem to fit in with any particular scene. I always thought that that would open much more wider doors, but the contrary seems to be the case. Hell, I suppose it‘s probably also a consequence of our probably not being the best marketeers in the world, I fully admit. Making (or at least trying to make) good music is one thing, selling yourself is another.

Another thing is: shortly after our release concert, our bassist, Gorik, told us during a pretty emotional talk that he saw himself forced to call it a day. He’d been suffering from lupus (an inflammatory, painful disease of the joints) for a couple of years, we knew that, but we never fully realized how serious it was. So there we were, without bassist, a week after our very successful (sold out) release party. If anyone feels compelled to resume laying the foundation of our zen metal beast, let us know!

 

Officer Nice: 2018 still counts a few months… Do you follow the Metal scène (music scène in general) and did you hear some great recent albums? Tell us more about it.

Jan: To be honest, that’s probably the most difficult one you asked me so far. I would have to ask the other guys maybe because, as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t heard any really interesting, mindblowing releases in the metal scene this year yet. I guess I’m gonna have to wait for that new Tool (they even wait longer than we do for a new release, haha!), Intronaut or Meshuggah release. And, hey, there’s something I have to admit: I haven’t listened to the new Alice in Chains yet! Shame on me!!!!

 

Officer Nice: Is the album only available on CD? Where can our readers find more information about the band anyway?

Jan: So far, it’s only available on CD, yes. And, like I said, you can listen to it on just about any streaming platform in the world. Maybe we should also release it on vinyl? All the information on our band is to be found on our Facebook profile. We also have a website (www.timsfavourite.com), but it is our experience that a Facebook profile generates a lot more contacts and worldwide fame and fortune! Hahahaha! Apart from that we also have 2 videoclips for 2 songs on our second album. Check’em out on Youtube: “The Believers” and “Piggy Ways” (not about Miss Piggy, sorry).

Officer Nice: Any last words for our readers?

Jan: Yes. Thanks for reading this entire interview! Listening to our entire album takes even longer! Hahaha!!!

TIM’S FAVOURITE FACEBOOK