Sandtimer play folk-rock music with vocal harmonies and electro-acoustic instruments. They released their debut album earlier this summer, with including the upbeat but melancholy Time? Why? Explain, a tune about realising the effects of the passage of time.
Tell us a bit about you, you know, the basic CV stuff. Who are you, where do you come from, how did you form?
I’m Rob and I’m a musician and composer from rural Hampshire. I’d tried to form a band in the area after finishing university but it never really got off the ground for various logistical reasons. My girlfriend’s younger brother Simon had enlisted in this project as a bassist, but when the band idea fell through, we decided to form an acoustic duo instead, as we were just keen to get the songs out into the world. I’d also got really into Appalachian folk recordings around that time so was keen to make music that was similarly more stripped back and intricate. The band then shaped round this idea, with my girlfriend Rachel (Simon’s sister) joining on bass and a swell guy called Alex Jackson joining us on percussion. Although we still occasionally do gigs as a duo or trio, the band has kind of evolved naturally back into the four piece it was once intended to be!
You blur together a number of sounds, in a kind of poppier folk vibe. What influences you?
When producing our records, I’m always trying to bridge the gap between my appreciation of the pure acoustic sound with my enjoyment of unusual effects, ambiences and production, meaning that recent tracks often have a mix of both elements. Joni Mitchell albums like Hejira and Turbulent Indigo had a big influence on the sound I was going for in these tracks, and I tried to channel the reckless and spontaneous spirits of artists like Kurt Vile and Neil Young when making some of the production and recording choices. Songwriting-wise, I think Simon and I are influenced by all kinds of stuff- Nick Drake, The Weather Station and Beck are some of the people that come to mind for me.
Time seems to be a recurring theme for you. What’s the fascination?
For some reason, time and its passing is always something I’ve been a bit preoccupied by- and sometimes a bit stressed out by. Growing up in the countryside I was surrounded by constant seasonal change and always reminded of time, which is why I think I’ve ended up writing a lot of songs about it. Our band name refers to the way we often give ourselves a really short time to accomplish our goals, and the moment we’ve accomplished them, we just flip over the sand timer and give ourselves a similarly short time to achieve something else.
You’re currently doing a tour around Canada, including house gigs. What do you get from such intimate concerts?
We love playing house concerts and smaller gigs as it’s nice to have this two-way interaction with the audience, getting the chance not only to tell them about the stories behind our songs but also to hear about their lives too. We were totally humbled and moved by the support from house concert hosts, venues and audiences we got on our last tour in Canada so are looking forward to doing it again!
What’s next for you?
Once we’re back from Canada, we’ll be promoting music from our upcoming album, everything is on hold, until the end of the year. I’m also beginning to stitch together demos for a new record, though it will likely be a more laid-back, low-key thing.