SOS Interview: Tim Williams of VOD & Bloodsimple

By Mike SOS

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When catching up with VOD and Bloodsimple vocalist Tim Williams in early 2009, we talked about the return and immediate future of seminal unit VOD, where that leaves Bloodsimple in the mix,  lamented over the NYC scene and relived some of the rich NYHC history Williams played a big part in.

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SOS: What prompted the reunion and the DVD?

TIM WILLIAMS: Well what prompted the reunion was kind of strange, you know, because Bloodsimple is very, very fucking busy. And there was no time, for at least me and Mike to do any VOD. And I can’t really exactly recall what prompted it. But I know the guys, we always still wanted to do it but we just didn’t really know how. And Matt was really involved with his shit and Brendon and Fleish were doing their shit and me and Mike were doing ours. Bloodsimple tacked on like a  headliner show on Long Island. And you know, we wanted to make it something special. Bloodsimple is alright on Long Island, but we really weren’t super big, we were like bigger in places like Texas and shit like that. So we were in Atlantic City one weekend just hanging out and talked about wanting to get started with that and how we could just make it a really, really fun night. And we both were like, “Ah, it’ll probably never happen.” But I was like, “Fuck it, I’m gonna ask those guys.” You know? And it wound up working out and we hadn’t played in like fucking seven or eight years, you know. Word got out that there was a special guest and word got out that it was, you know, big. It didn’t take an idiot to put it together that every VOD member was gonna be in the club that night. And we hadn’t played or rehearsed in years. And we did three songs– or I think we only did two. I think we just did “Choke” and “DTO” and part of something else. And the crowd reaction was just so fucking ridiculous that that kind of planted the seed. And then the DVD came to light and we did a couple of shows for that and those were really successful. And next thing you know we just finally got off our asses and made it all happen. That’s pretty much how it went down.

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SOS: There’s a new VOD album in the works, is that correct?

TIM WILLIAMS: Yeah, that is officially correct and I honesty couldn’t be happier. I was at rehearsal last night out on Long Island and you know, we got three songs in the bag and we finally record just a quick little rough recording in the studio so I can write my lyrics to and we can kind of listen back to see what we have. And those three songs are fucking monsters man. They’re really fucking sick. So I’m really happy with them so far.

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SOS: Any idea who you guys are gonna be working with or what’s the deal, like I guess is it still too early to tell or–

TIM WILLIAMS: It’s a little too early tell. There’s definitely like one major producer we’re working out. But I don’t want to say anything until I get some paperwork in front of me, but he’s a really big name and if he gets his hands on it it’s gonna be fucking great. And as for the labels and business, I know we just want to keep it very small and in house. I don’t need any big label. We all know what VOD’s capable of and we really just want to make our record for our fans that have come to the last couple of shows, people who I’ve met worldwide during  Bloodsimple. If we reach a couple of new ones in the process. I want to make a record for my fans and for my peers. Like VOD has always been a favorite of like the bands. I get people coming up to me, you know, Bloodsimple did some amazing fucking touring with some huge– we rode with some  huge people and so many people in bands are into VOD. I’m really just– want to make it for the fans and I want to make it for the bands who have given me props over the years and that’s about it. You know, no egos or– I’m just making music on my own terms now and I feel I’ve earned that and I feel really proud that I can actually have people still interested. And like I’m in the position where I can make music on my own terms. So that’s pretty much where we’re at.

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SOS: It’s nice to see you guys get that kind of respect

TIM WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I’m a big fan—you know, I don’t need fame. You know, I’ve had my fair share of it honesty. And money-wise I’ve always been alright with money ‘cause I’m a hard worker. And I’d much rather have the gratitude from people come up to me, you know, from various bands and be like, “Yo, you’ve influenced me this way and you did that for me and this song did that for me.” And now they’re saying that, you know, various people within the business—I think it’s hilarious that VOD is, like, spawned this fucking metal core shit which is pretty hilarious to me. And to me that’s the biggest reward right there, to be looked at as a pioneer, which I never fucking thought would ever happen in a million years. And to have prominent people in the music business come up to me and say that kind of shit to me, that’s the biggest reward ever. And you know, I really show gratitude for that.

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SOS: How do you feel about being put at like the top of the metalcore totem pole?

TIM WILLIAMS: Well it’s very hard to say if you’re at the top. Like I said I’m really humbled and I think it’s amazing. I don’t feel any pressure at all. I feel I’m gonna do what I always do and take it, you know, the only pressure I feel is the last Bloodsimple record vocally I think I really, really did a really good job and I have to somehow top that and the musicians within Bloodsimple were phenomenal and I really don’t want to take a step back, I need to expand on that. And that’s where the challenge lies for me. But I don’t know if I’m at the top of any totem pole at all. I just feel I’m doing my own thing. And that’s what I’ve always done and I’ve been lucky to stay in the game for as long as I have.

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SOS: Who would you cite as like a metal core band that either you really like or you see a lot of VOD in?

TIM WILLIAMS: I see a lot of fucking—well as for liking I’m really, really picky with the music I like. So there’s, you know, it’s just cause I’ve been in it for so long it’s got to be really fucking good to catch my attention. And then for me to like it on top of it, and that’s not arrogance and that’s not me being a dick, I’m just so submersed in it. I live my life through it. It’s a huge part of my life and it really takes a lot. I don’t even know what the fuck metal core is anymore honestly. Like you said it’s so diverse and there’s so much. But you know, like Killswitch Engage is a really good band. And I’ve heard I’ve had a pretty heavy influence on them and that’s an honor ‘cause they’re really big and they’ve really stuck to their roots and done very well. Lamb of God, I don’t know if you can consider them metal core, but I think they’re phenomenal and it took me a while to catch on to them, but I really fucking like them now. And Converge, they’re not metalcore at all. I really respect them for a band that has really stuck to their roots and it’s come full circle for them and they have shared a certain amount of respect and they command their niche and I really respect that. Even bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, I really respect what they have done with their career. You know, that kind of keep going and going and have done well. You know? Bands like that, I’m sure if you hang up the phone I’ll think of a couple more. But off the top of my head those are the bands that come on my iPod. I have everybody on my iPod but some of ‘em I skip. But when bands like that come up on my iPod I tend to listen and you know, I don’t hit the skip button. That to me signals that I actually like them. You know?

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SOS: Obviously coming from Long Island and hitting the New York hardcore scene has definitely been probably a pivotal part of your upbringing and basically shaped your sound, you know what I mean? How much of it do you still follow? How do you feel that the scene– I don’t know, I mean I know you guys are always on the road and basically you’re more of a national act now, but like, do you still keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on locally?

TIM WILLIAMS: Funny you use the term finger on the pulse, ‘cause that’s pretty much what I do. You know, it’s not as easy as it used to be ‘cause I’m really busy and it isn’t as big a scene as it once was, that’s for shit sure. Long Island has taken significant hits, they’ve lost a lot of clubs and New York City needless to say has nothing left, you know, to play at small club wise unless you want to play at the Knitting Factory, which personally to me sucks dick for heavy music. You know? But like I said, it’s really hard. But you know, I’m pretty much a grassroots guy and the bands I came up with I keep an eye on, like Madball, Crown of Thorns. I heard Murphy’s Law just played the Trash Bar and packed it out and I was happy to hear that. You know, just like bands that when New York to me are the bands that I’m always interested in such as Subzero, Sick of It All, even Biohazard, those are the guys that changed my life and influenced me. You know, I remember sending an e-mail out to Freddy Madball not too long ago when I was on the Disturbed tour and being on a big tour like that it’s ridiculous. And one day I flipped on– I was all bummed out and I flipped on DMS and I worked out to it and then fucking made me feel so fucking good to know that I came from that and what I do now, you know, I bring my music to the big stages. But I came from them and Freddy Madball and Madball changed my life. And they had a big influence on our music within VOD and if it wasn’t for bands like that I don’t know if I’d be where I was today. You know? And that was, you know, that’s how I keep my finger on the pulse. I look out for them and I try and hook up bands when I can, when I’m in a position to hook them up. And I just go with it, you know, bands like Candiria, shit like that, you know, I always go check them out and check to look up on them on myspace and shit like that to see where they’re at. You know, I try my best. But like I said, I’m not a kid anymore. I’ve got a lot of fucking responsibility. And it’s really hard to that unless it’s something I really got to go out and see.

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SOS: What else are you doing besides music these days?

TIM WILLIAMS: Well you know, I’m a daddy now so that’s a big thing and that doesn’t make anything fucking easy, you know? It’s really hard and that’s taking up a lot of my time, but it’s all good ‘cause if you’re gonna put your time into anything it might as well be a kid. And I’m a proud father of a 18 month old little girl. You know? And she is the best. And she keeps me grounded and she gives me a reason to get out there and do my thing. As of now I’ve put touring on hold because it’s not where I am right now. I’m a proud member of local 608 union, carpenters union in New York City. And that keeps me very busy and I also do my own work on the side. And on top of it fucking somehow write a record. So I take my vacations within music. I’ve got a couple of things…I gotta go record in California, so I’ll take time off for that. And I think were going to Europe in the summer to do some shit, and take time off for that. But otherwise, you know, I got a lot of things going on and I’m proud of what I’ve become, you know, career-wise and musician-wise. I really couldn’t be happier.

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SOS: Growing up in Long Island, how did that shape your music, how did that shape your style, how did that shape your viewpoint on the way music should be played?

TIM WILLIAMS: Long Island was a very– I don’t live there anymore, you know, but my mother’s still out there so I’m out there all the time. And it’s– Long Island for us VOD would be absolutely not without Long Island hardcore. You know, VOD, we came out of high school just playing metal and then we met the guys from Loyal To None were the first hardcore band to show VOD any sort of attention. Not to go too far off the question here, but VOD, I don’t know, it was just the universe was aligned, there was just such a fucking scene. I don’t know what it’s like out there now. I don’t think it’s anything like it was. But it was such a vibrant, enormous scene, like, when VOD and you know, Silent Majority, Neglect, Disciplinary Action, Mind Over Matter and it was just every weekend, the Seattle of hardcore for us. It was bands coming in from out of town, Overcast, Bloodlet. Bands from the city, you know.  And it was kind of hard to break into the city and you know, VOD just kicked that city door open and we fucking came in and we came in fucking guns blazing. Sure we were a little nervous, but I had some guy– I had, you know, Rabies from Warzone sneaking me in the back door of a club saying I’m part of the fucking family now, “You can get in wherever the fuck you want.”  And hearing that, you know, it’s just like, you know, that’s like he’s like a fucking prominent figure. Having Vinny Stigma come up and shake your hand and Freddy Madball and all these guys and you know, it was just such a fucking scene. It was ferocious. It was exciting. And you know, VOD played when “Still” was about to come out…2200 fucking people showing up to see an unsigned fucking band. That doesn’t fucking happen twice dude, never. We didn’t know that was gonna happen. We played with Korn at the Roxy one night. A month, two months later we recorded “Still” and showed up at the PWAC and there was a line five people deep wide wrapped around the fucking building. I had never seen it like that ever in my life and I’ll never see it like that ever again. And I was 20 years old. I wasn’t even 21 yet.  And growing up on Long Island was instrumental in my lyrical content at the time. Shaped my lyrics, shaped me as a musician and shaped me, you know, to prepare myself for the journey ahead as into the main stage and the national acts. And I flew NY hardcore flag every  fucking where we  went, throughout the VOD years, the Bloodsimple years, I brought that shit to the top and I’ve had James  Hetfield fucking, you know, Jerry Cantrell, Phil Anselmo listening to fucking hardcore and listening to VOD and Bloodsimple. And I wouldn’t have any of that without VOD. Period.

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SOS: What the toughest part about growing up in the New York City metro area and being a musician?

TIM WILLIAMS: There’s fucking nothing. It’s a really bad time right now. There is no fucking scene if you ask me. There’s no young scene anymore. It’s a lot of indie shit, it’s a lot of hipster shit, it’s not a metal town, it is not a hardcore town. It’s not even a punk town anymore. It’s not. And I’m– dude I never took a break from heavy music. I went right from VOD straight into fucking Bloodsimple. This is my first break in over ten years. And I got, you know, I’m deep in that. I know what the fuck is going on. There ain’t nothing and that’s the hardest part. And it’s sad. There’s no more dirty clubs where you can roll up and pack 70-80 people in, start small and make look like it’s packed. There’s no more CBGB. Just today I thought if we mint, if this record kicked off and we did, we had a good response, if we  have that then I could release it and have it packed out. I never saw CBGB so packed out than when I opened up to Superjoint Ritual. Fucking CBGB. And I never saw Phil Anselmo so excited to fucking play a show. And I had ringside seats to watch him rip that fucking band. And I know that guy personally, he an underground person. He’s not– he’s a fucking punk rock hardcore [INAUD] rock fucking guy who likes to play dirty fucking clubs with bands like Superjoint Ritual. And I never saw that guy so alive. And he ripped it up. And I thought, with VOD, if that place was still open and VOD hits right with this record, we can have a moment like that. But then I’m like there ain’t no fucking place like that anymore. There won’t be and it’s fucking sad. You know? You go to the trash bar now in Brooklyn and that place has a decent sound, but it’s not like CB’s, you know, and it’s not like Coney Island High. And it sure as shit ain’t like the Wetlands. And all those places are gone and that’s the saddest, most frustrating thing. There ain’t no New York scene anymore and it sucks.

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SOS: Bloodsimple’s taking a break I’m assuming?

TIM WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, personally I really, you know, I don’t want to get too much into the details. But it was just personally I mainly needed to take a break from it, you know. I’m not gonna speak for any of the other members in the band. But Bloodsimple went hard. Bloodsimple did more touring in six years– I guess four years– I guess six years, than VOD did in ten, Bloodsimple was balls to the walls a touring act. And we toured hard. You know, in an RV. We weren’t all glammed out in a fucking bus. And when we did Europe we did it in a van. We were getting murdered. And needless to say my personal life got, you know, I’m just gonna– I don’t want to say everything, but it’s just Bloodsimple’s on a hiatus right now and it became the right moment, you know, in our lives to be lucky enough to do VOD where I can still create and I’m gonna roll with that for now. I would like nothing more if the time arrived and Bloodsimple can get in the studio and see if, you know, Bloodsimple isn’t as fortunate as VOD, you know, we weren’t as, you know, I don’t know what you want to say. But I don’t know if Bloodsimple can just get up and record a record again a couple of years from now. But if that opportunity presented itself I will gladly do it. And I’ll just leave it at that.

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SOS: Is there more a brotherly bond in VOD or Bloodsimple?

TIM WILLIAMS: No, there’s a huge brotherly bond, but there’s a brotherly bond within both bands, there’s a deep, deep bond within Bloodsimple just as there’s a deep bond within VOD. You know, those are my bros and they’re some of my favorite people on this earth. Love ‘em, I hate ‘em, they are. And I had lifetime experiences with them that I’ll never forget. And it’s just, you know, Bloodsimple is just, right now, on hiatus. And you never know what’s gonna happen. You know, at one point I never thought I’d be doing another VOD record. So you never know.

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SOS: What’s the time frame for this to get done? Is it kind of take as it comes?

TIM WILLIAMS: VOD, I want to be in the studio early summer, you know, but that’s gonna be very, very hard to achieve. But I would like to have the record done so that maybe we can go to Japan and do that Loudfest a year from now in like October. We might do some festivals in this summer. But without having a record out it’s gonna be kind of hard. But we’ll see what happens with that. And you know, personally I just want to put it out there that I’m actually working on putting out a book of my personal journals and poetry that I’ve written throughout the years of being on the road with VOD and Bloodsimple. And I’m also working on getting a web, my personal solo music, a website up where I do a lot more of my mellow stuff. But you’ve always heard mellow songs on a lot of my records. But this is going to be strictly mellow material. And I’m very excited about that and I’ve already got one song that I’m working on in the studio. And I hope for that page to be up in early ’09. And I hope people come to it, check it out and that there’ll be lyrics and journal entries and poetry and one track to start it all off with.

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SOS: Who were some of your main influences? Are there any that we would be surprised by?

TIM WILLIAMS: What, for this VOD or…

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SOS: In general. I mean, right now, where you’re at right now, standing where you’re at, who do you see, “Hey, you know what, I like what that guy’s doing. Maybe I could fine-tune that this way.” Or, “I admire the path that guy chose, I want to try to walk like that or try to maybe do it my way.”

TIM WILLIAMS: I’m doing– well I’ve always done it my way. That’s the only way I think I’ve survived that long. You know, I’ve been lucky enough to be inventive and be considered an original singer. You know? And that’s very hard to achieve. But influences-wise I’m really looking at bringing it back to, you know, on the VOD stuff, a much rawer, vicious approach to the vocal style as opposed to Bloodsimple that was still raw, but it was a little more glossy and refined. But VOD I’m bringing it back to a lot of punk rock, early hardcore, you know, my style of hardcore and some really, but also with the really sick twist of what I’ve developed over the years. And you know, influences and music-wise I’m listening to a lot of different stuff. Like I’m listening to a lot of indie bands that are– I don’t know how much of that’s gonna come out, but those are the types of bands, like Band Of Horses, Kings of Leon, that have really been catching my ear lately and I’ve really been listening to them a lot. And heavy music wise I just take it as it comes. You know, I’ve listened to so much of it over the years it comes up and I’m in the mood, like Metallica was on today and I was digging that. And you know, I just hit my shit on shuffle every day and I walk out the door. And you know, that’s where I’m at. But there’s a lot of music in my head these days and it’s hard to put my finger on it. Every given day it’s a different fucking day.

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SOS: Any final comments for the readers?

TIM WILLIAMS: The goals are to achieve a five star VOD record for the fans that that’s the utmost priority, that VOD is back. And we’re not looking to change the fucking world ‘cause I couldn’t care less. We’re not looking to rewrite the face of heavy music at all. We’re just looking to record five star critically acclaimed VOD record that should have came a long time ago. And get out there, get out to the UK, do the northeast, maybe do California, maybe do a little southeast, get to Japan, maybe reach some fans out in South America and just check the shit out of people like we always do. Period. VOD. And there’s no doubt from the songs that I’ve heard that they’re ridiculous and over the top and we’ve got our hands on a sick all star known producer that has pretty much already said he’s going to commit. And this record is going to be, with the power of IMPRINT and the catchiness of the first album, but it’s probably gonna be the first VOD record that actually sounds really fucking good. And that’s no insult to anybody who’s worked with us in the past, it’s just VOD’s always seemed to miss its mark on our fault, not on any of the producers we worked with, on our fault. And I think this record’s really gonna fucking sound the way it should sound. And personally my goals are to get this poetry book out and get my acoustic stuff off the ground and hopefully in late ’09 record an acoustic and to have the release coincidence with the release of my book. That’s a lot of work, but I’m thinking I can achieve it. So we’ll see.

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SOS: You’ve got a full plate my friend.

TIM WILLIAMS: Yeah, but it’s the only way to do it. You know?

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Be sure to check out Mike SOS’s music with SOS and Seizure Crypt in the New York City area.

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