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http://www.whiskyfun.com / November 25, 2006

MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW - TIM HAIN
 

Imagine Albert King playing with Sly and Robbie or better yet, Buddy Guy with the Pionneers… Wouldn’t that have been a hit? Yeah but no need to look for dirty mash-ups on the Internet, or to pester your favourite second-hand LP dealer, that exists in real life and it’s called Bleggae – the bounciest blues ever! Its 'inventor' is England’s excellent singer and guitarist Tim Haines, master blender extraordinaire, who also happens to know his single malt.
Whiskyfun: Tim, please tell us a little more about what you do, music-wise.
Tim Hain: I'm a singer, guitarist, songwriter, performer. Currently playing out on average 3 times a week with my band ‘Sunnyside Up’, a musical blend called ‘Bleggae’ or Blues/reggae. My album ‘One Man Went To Mojo’ has had very good reviews… even in the traditional blues press.

WF: Which other musicians are you playing or did you play with?
Tim: I have two of everything, as good musicians are busy! My mainstay is ‘the drummer currently known as Prince,’ who also tours with reggae legends ‘Twinkle Brothers’ and ‘Misty In roots’. When he’s not available I use Tapper, who backs Gregory Isaacs when he’s in England. 2 years ago Jeff Beck was at one of my gigs, and we got to jam, which was a big thrill.

WF: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Tim: How long is a piece of string?? From Beatles to Bob Marley, Blues to township, Ry Cooder, Freddie King, Peter Green, Jimi Hendrix, Black Uhuru, Toots, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Paul Simon, Thomas Mapfumo, Salif Keita, Lauryn Hill, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Womack, Smokey Robinson…

WF: Which are your current projects?
Tim: Working on promoting two albums, and working on composing a third at my home studio. Having done over 1000 gigs off my own bat in the last 7 years, I am now networking like crazy to find and build a team to work with and create a ‘brand’.

WF: So, when did you start enjoying whisky? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Tim: At the turn of the Century, new year’s eve 1999/2000, I was employed to play reggae in a castle in Scotland, they were throwing their local dram at us: Oban. Lovely but I had already tasted Lagavulin and was deeply fascinated…

WF: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Tim: I can still smell the 1946 Macallan which rounded off a whisky tasting weekend gifted me by my non-whisky loving girlfriend two years ago! It smelt of oak cabinets I played in as a boy at my grandfather’s house, but full of lemons! Memorable for a different reason: At a bar in that bastion of culture known as Chatham in Kent, I ordered a Bowmore, with a pint of water to keep my voice hydrated while singing. They mixed the two!

WF: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Tim: Several. From the Islay peat monsters which I love, Ardbeg 10 is a staple, and Laph QC ain’t far behind, to the sherried Macallans I cut my teeth (a style best accessed these days with the Aberlour A’bunadh-the good Macs are getting expensive.) Longmorn 15’s an exceptional Speysider but from the 170 or so drams I’ve tried since 2000, there’s few I’d say no to. Re: lighter whiskies, you can’t go wrong with Glenmorangie or Bladnoch. And I was recently forced to eat my Glenfiddich snobbery with a healthy dose of Solera 15. Love CS whiskies - especially limited editions!

WF: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Tim: Errm… that’s a hard one!

WF: Now, ‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll. Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
Tim: “One Scotch, One bourbon, and one beer.” Plus footage I recently saw of Howlin’ Wolf bawling out another bluesman for ruining his life with whisky! Classic…

WF: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Tim: They should indeed - and they do! Bonnie Raitt is HARD! I introduced a friend of mine to a selection of malts one night. She has a far better nose than me! She picked out all the classic notes first time near the glass. I was amazed…

WF: In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way. Care to comment?
Tim: As long as the enjoyment comes first…

WF: I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Tim: I taste notes in whisky!! I introduced an artist friend who tasted colours… I find whiskies, especially on the nose, evoke memories of places and events, maybe from childhood.

WF: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Tim: Ardbeg is my mainstay, so it would have to be a Fender Strat.

WF: Do you also have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Tim: Every piece of music is good with whisky!! Desert island dram would have to be Ardbeg ‘77 or the Vintage House Macallan single cask I bought to celebrate my daughter’s birth. Desert island disc would have to be Abbey Road, Blackheart Man (Bunny Wailer) or Electric Landlady (whoops!) by Jimi.

WF: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Tim: JD sucks for me - far too sweet.

WF: And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand? What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
Tim: What’s Cristal?

WF: Cristal is Champagne made by Roederer and rappers love it. Well, wealthy rappers, as a bottle of Cristal from a good vintage like 1990 will cost you around £200 or more.
Tim: OK, to answer your question I'd say the equivalent is a bleggae artist drinking a top Speysider...in this case an old Longmorn... a 37 year old Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling gifted me for my last birthday by my dear friend Anthony Phillips, a composer, and Genesis' original guitarist! I did some 'sleuthing' with the help of Mr Murrays' bible to discover its origin, as the society tends not to name its sources on the bottle. Anyway, he chose this bottle because the famous SMWS description in red letters on the label reads "A Rasta Malt". We figured it was because the whisky was very dark...and deep. Like an old Rastaman! Like Bob Marley or Bunny Wailer in interviews I've seen. I probably have the last "inch" left in England. Anyway, they pulled out the tasting notes.
It seems two "tasters" found "marijuana" on the nose! Hence the name.. I found mainly oak and sherry. The only ganja I found was a crumb in my back pocket...

WF: Yeah, I remember the rasta '7.27', it had weedy aromas indeed. Anyway, thank you very much, Tim, and congrats for your new CD One Man Went To Mojo. It's excellent indeed - to our readers, it's available at Amazon UK.
Links of interest:

Tm Hain's official website
Tim's mySpace page (great music there!)