I Dream of Vinyl

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“The songs all stem from pretty strong emotions or opinions” – an Interview with miniaturized

This Friday (March 31st) will see the release of the debut record from San Diego-based band miniaturized. The self-titled album features 14 tracks that are mostly a commentary on the human condition– broad in scope, but holding onto a general sense of hope. While the band may be a rock band at heart, they weave pop, alternative and Latin influences into their sound.

miniaturized is made up of guitarist/vocalist Timothy Joseph (Buckfast Superbee, The Palace Ballroom, Phasers on Stun), drummers Mario Rubalcaba (Earthless, Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes), Chris Prescott (Pinback, No Knife), bassists Brian Desjean (No Knife, Mistress 77) and Chris Torres (Ron Blair band, Chris Torres Band). The material on miniaturized is a departure from the angular punk/indie albums Timothy Joseph (TJ) had historically worked on, and despite having over a decade’s worth of experience as a producer, he wanted to seek outside expertise to fully realize his vision, intentionally straying from “the San Diego sound” he’s become known for. The result was collaborating with the prolific Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement, Wilco, Let’s Active), who even contributed guitar/bass keys throughout the album, and drums on the track, “Gemstone.”

We caught with TJ as he prepared for the release of the album to talk about the record and how the band got together.

Hi TJ! How’s everything going right now?
Howdy Paul ✋. Things are unpredictable.  Exciting, nerve-racking, filled with anticipation and wonder, not to mention the notion that it’s entirely possible I have no idea what I’m doing at any given moment. So overall, things are pretty good 🙂

What classic album cover is your current mood?
AC/DC Highway To Hell

Your self-titled debut album is out at the end of the month. When and where did you write and record the album?
I wrote the songs at home pretty quickly when a creative streak hit me after I played a tribute show to honor Tom Petty for charity.  Taking apart all of those timeless songs really sparked an inspiration to try a new approach with my own songs. So as the songs came together, I thought it would be fun to go into the studio and just record them live as a band with some friends. But as the demos developed and got passed around a bit, things evolved. The idea came up to have an outside producer come in to record with us and shortly thereafter, much to my amazement, I was picking up Mitch Easter at San Diego international airport.  We spent 8 days recording in San Diego at Phaser Control with a bunch of my very talented friends. Then a few months later, I flew out to North Carolina to Mitch’s studio, Fidelitorium Recordings. He and I did vocals and overdubs for about a week and then it was time to go. We didn’t quite finish everything so given that the pandemic was in full swing, we collaborated remotely on the few parts we had left on a couple of songs. Mitch mixed the album at a steady pace through the end of 2021. Greg Calbi at Sterling sound mastered the record shortly after and suddenly, here we are!

(You can preorder the album on the miniaturized Bandcamp page using this link – https://miniaturized.bandcamp.com/album/miniaturized)

The record has a real classic 80s/90s feel to it rather than a harder punkier sound that may be more known for. Was that a deliberate decision or was it how the songs came about?
Again, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Tom Petty project.  But I will say that I didn’t set out to stylize the songs to any certain era or genre. I just wrote from a communicative standpoint, trying to relay what I was saying in an upfront and succinct way. The songs all stem from pretty strong emotions or opinions I have on the current state of the human condition. I figured the best way to get them across was to just be honest and as straight to the point as possible. I have to say that Mitch was the one who really helped meld all of the songs together into a cohesive album. He didn’t change one lyric or stanza of any of the songs, he just made them bionic versions of themselves and his creative ideas were essential to the overall sound of it.

If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?

This is one of those questions where you shoot yourself in the foot no matter what you say. Because you know as well as I do, that listening to certain albums brings out feelings that spark deep connections to your personal history with music. One album can remind you of other  bands and records that have affected you and so you go back to the shelf, pull that album out and put it on. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle as there is no ONE record. But if you have to have an answer, Doolittle by Pixies. It’s got everything I like about rock music on it.

But I could just as easily say, Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, or Let Go by Nada Surf, Kid A by Radiohead, or Murmur by R.E.M. or….fuck. See??

What is your favorite song on the album? I’m going between “The Suitor” and “Cave In” at the moment.
Rad. I like those songs too. They’re really fun to play live. My favorite song on the album has always been Why Don’t We Play God?. I felt that when I wrote it, it said so much about what I’ve learned about the power of perspective. Sometimes, life comes at you so fast, you can forget it’s always teaching you something valuable. That song reminds me to remember how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go.

You all have a rich background in a lot of bands. How did you get together to form miniaturized?
I’m connected to all the guys through music. Although I’ve never been in a dedicated project with any of them until now, all of our previous bands have played together or been out on the road together. We’re all friends and supporters of each others’ music and creative efforts. I sent the guys the songs and they all said yes. 😀. That’s how a band should be. Friends making music together because they’re moved by it.

You have some shows lined up in Southern California. Are you planning on going further afield later in the year?
Absolutely. Once the record is out and after Chris gets back in May, we’ll get up and out and play these songs for as many people as possible. Shows and tours will be ongoing throughout 2023.

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
I would call my pizza The Ham Smuggler in honor of my friend and long-time hero, ‘O’, who we tragically lost in February. And true to O’s ethos, it wouldn’t matter what was on it as long as it was free. Because if it was free, “people would eat it up like free pizza”. That may go way over the head of some of your readers, but I’m banking on the fact that some of them definitely know O. I mean, “who doesn’t?”

What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
Shit, I don’t even know what I’m doing when I’m done answering these questions. But I can definitely say, miniaturized will be playing as much as we possibly can.

You can find out more about minaturized and get all the latest info by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Feature Photo Credit – O

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