An Interview with Tim David of Bathroom of the Future

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I’ve got another great one for you guys today! It’s not every day that you come across a Nerd Rock/Punk band that both live the nerd lifestyle and present it on stage in their music, videos, and stage presence. Today I get a deep dive with Tim David of Bathroom of the Future about the band’s coming together, time on the stage, and what makes them, well, them. Taking inspirations from different genres and artists, Bathroom the Future creates a unique mashup of 90s nerd-rock/punk and pop-punk elements that bring together a fantastic mix of music. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing these interviews, it’s that COVID hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing giving bands time to finally relax and take a break to do what they want, work on more music that’s been put off by touring or do nothing. Anyway, I’m rambling again; here’s Tim and The Bathroom of the Future!

Anthony:
Tim, thank you so much for reaching out to us for an interview! Hopefully, you and your bandmates have been safe and healthy as we reach nearly a year and a half of this nonsense. How’ve you been getting through this past year? It looks like you’ve been busy recording.

Tim:
Honestly, we’ve been getting by the best we can, just like everyone else! When the extensive shutdowns started, we took a few months off from practice to feel things out, and I was staying at home playing the PS4 I’d finally bought. When we did get back together, it was pretty sporadic – a lot of masks, spreading out, and COVID testing to ensure everyone was being as safe as we could, but even then, we’d take time off for safety’s sake now and again.

Weirdly, it was the perfect opportunity for us to work on some stuff we had in the backlog – I wrote a bunch of new songs at the end of 2019 that we hadn’t had time to work on due to the number of shows we’d been playing, so we figured we’d try to keep our heads down and write as much as we can. Aside from that, we’ve all been lucky enough to have stayed employed and healthy during the whole mess, so we’ve just been laying low, staying safe, and being grateful for what we’ve got.

Anthony:
So, can you tell our readers and us a little about yourselves? Who you and your bandmates are and where you’re from?

Tim:
I’m Tim David (or Timothy if you’re fancy), and I’m the guitarist, singer, and primary songwriter. James Layle is our drummer, and Sean Farquhar is our bassist and occasional backup vocalist.

We’re all from various parts of Metro Detroit – I was living just south of Detroit when the band started and would drive an hour to Sean’s house for practice every week before I moved a little closer, and James (our drummer) has lived all over the place too. We’re pretty centrally located to the Detroit area, and most of our shows happen thereabouts, so we usually tell people “Detroit” or “Michigan” for convenience’s sake.

Anthony:
What’s your musical background? Surely you didn’t wake up one day in 2015 and all of a sudden and had a band; where did it all begin?

Tim:
It’s true, although with as easy as Bathroom came together it could feel that way! I started learning guitar when I was like 11 or 12 in the late 90s, and I’d been in a lot of local bands of varying quality since then, playing guitar or a very brief stint on the drums.

Growing up, I had a phase where I was SUPER into Queen, and I remember listening to “A Night at the Opera” on vinyl (before vinyl was cool again, it was the only way I could find most Queen albums at the time!) and thinking how bad I wanted to learn guitar. Arrogantly, it was the first solo in Bohemian Rhapsody that inspired me, but to this day, I’m still not good enough to handle that one. My parents eventually caved in, and I wound up getting a Fender Cyclone and a ProCo RAT distortion pedal after not too long, both of which I still have to this day.

Anthony:
You’ve mentioned the band started in 2015, were you all friends at the time and just got together and said, “Hey, let’s start a band!” and the rest was history?

Tim:
Honestly, more or less! During my time in a few local bands, I met Sean and James through some mutual friends. Sean had been in some bands and helped book a lot of local shows, as well as knowing a lot of people I went to school with, and James was in a lot of other local bands I’d wind up playing shows within 2010-2011 or so. I was sort of friends with James’ younger brother first, but we started hanging out eventually, too.

Sean and I had wanted to start a band together for a super long time since we both had a ton of musical influences in common, and I’d secretly always wanted to poach James since he’s a fantastic drummer, but we were both always too busy. Around late 2014, we all found ourselves freed up simultaneously, so I started teaching Sean how to play bass after we saw Break Anchor together, and James quickly fell into the equation after I played him some crummy demos of stuff I was working on. It’s been consistently us ever since, which is great because this is the first band I’ve been in without a ton of lineup changes!

Anthony:
Your music is kind of all over the place, but in a coherent mashup of punk, pop-punk, and as you had described to us, geek rock. Who are some of your inspirations for your band and music? You’ve mentioned to us that we have interviewed some of your heroes already, so I think it’s safe to say they may have been influences, right?

Tim:
You absolutely have – we all love Jeff Rosenstock, and I’m a big fan of The Get Up Kids, so it was cool to see them come up on here!

The fun thing about Bathroom is that, even though I write the songs, everyone has such diverse musical backgrounds that the stuff they contribute helps bring out dimensions in the music that I wouldn’t have expected when I wrote it. I tend to be pretty inspired by the more melodic punk or emo I heard growing up in the 2000s like Weezer, Ozma, Nerf Herder, or The Ataris. Still, James is into the more modern pop-punk stuff, and Sean likes a little faster edge things, so the way they play their parts (slowing the drums down, different basslines) brings out many other aspects to the songs I show them.

The biggest thing we have in common is that we all like it when stuff is catchy. We all agree that the songs can be noisy and chaotic but still have to have a melody, so I look up to musicians that can blend those things.

Anthony:
You have also mentioned to us previously that you played with some of your favorites. Can you tell our readers who they were and what it was like sharing the same stage as them?

Tim:
Oh yeah, we’ve been lucky enough to open for a lot of the bands we’ve idolized along the way. One of the earliest big shows we got to be on was with Smoking Popes in Ann Arbor – Sean and I used to drink beer on his porch, listen to Smoking Popes on a small speaker outside and talk about how cool it would be to be in a band someday, so that was a full-circle moment for us.

I think one of our favorite things about playing with bands we look up to, almost more so than the shows themselves, is connecting with them as people. Like getting to hang out with Piebald and Punchline backstage and hearing their fun tour stories, or talking to Josh from Smoking Popes about his favorite Atari games from back in the day, or talking to Kris from The Ataris about his Jean-Michel Basquiat tattoos, or becoming friends with the robots in Cybertronic Spree after one of them tweeted about how much they liked one of our songs back before we had a Twitter. We all look at shows like that as almost an excuse to meet bands we already love and get to know them a little, as much as we do a show that we’re playing.

Anthony:
Can we talk about the name of your band for a minute? Where did you guys come up with the name Bathroom of the Future? In my experience in asking this question, it will either have a lot of meaning to the band or just for the sake of it sounding cool.

Tim:
I wish it were a funnier story, but it isn’t. I won’t name names, but we had a different name picked out at one point, and ONE of us got too drunk to remember it, and when we were trying to talk about the band, he blurted out, “Bathroom of the Future” instead. We thought it was too funny not to use, and people have found it pretty memorable.

Funny enough, though, after this, we found out that it was a line from a later-era Simpsons episode that we must’ve just picked up by osmosis somehow. This made me happy because many bands I like use Simpsons references in their song titles or band names, so I like to think we had to use “Bathroom of the Future” because all the good Simpsons jokes were taken.

Anthony:
Here’s one we ask everyone, do you collect any physical mediums of music? Records, tapes, CDs, cassettes, or are you all digital?

Tim:
It’s terrible because you’re a site called “Vinyl Writer,” and you’re talking to the sole member of this band that DOESN’T collect records! I used to have a decent little pile of them, mostly stuff that was easier to find on vinyl at that point, like Elvis Costello or some of the less-popular Ramones albums, but I got rid of them all when I moved out of my grandpa’s house forever ago, and I never looked back. The problem for me is that I have enough hobbies that take up a lot of space at my home as it is – I like to joke that I don’t own a record player because I own two Sega Saturns, and they take up about as much room. That’s not to say I’m not into music, but I’ve been spoiled by the move to digital because I can have my whole collection with me on the drive to work or what have you. (I do still own an iPod and a Zune, so I’m archaic about music in my own way).

Sean and James are both pretty big vinyl collectors, though, to the point where they even prefer to have modern stuff on vinyl. I get to reap the benefits of this sometimes myself, though, since many of our earliest practices would culminate with us sitting around, drinking some cheap beer from the drug store, while Sean plays us whatever new Iron Maiden record he ordered since we practiced last.

Anthony:
What are some albums and artists that mean the most to you?

Tim:
Ooh boy, this is always a hard one. So, as I mentioned earlier, “A Night at the Opera” was the reason I started playing guitar, and The Offspring (specifically “Americana” and “Conspiracy of One”) were what got me thinking about being a “punk guitarist,” whatever that means.

I think from there, I got really into albums that explored different aspects of the punk/indie formula but still revolved around a basic punk philosophy. Sugar’s Copper Blue showed me that your band could cover any genre of rock, pop, or whatever it wants so long as you’re sincere and passionate. Jawbreaker’s Dear You taught me that punk could be expressive and take many forms. Tim by the Replacements taught me that melody and anguish could co-exist and still be memorable. Weezer’s Blue Album told me that I could be myself lyrically (an idea reinforced later by Ozma’s Rock and Roll Part 3, which was huge for me). Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool showed me that music could be fast and emotional without losing brevity or catchiness. I could go on, but this is a lot of the big stuff.

Anthony:
What are some of your passions outside of music? Do any of them influence your music in any way, or do you try to keep it separated?

Tim:
Honestly, I don’t think my lyrics would be anything like they are WITHOUT my passions outside of music. Everyone in the band has a lot of similar through-lines as far as interests go – we all love cartoons, comics, wrestling, video games, 80s action movies, etc., and it helps us connect a lot better as people.

I myself am a huge toy collector (mostly Transformers and Gundam, but I’ll buy anything if it’s cool). I’m big into video games of various eras – not long ago, a friend of ours from the band Cheapshow installed a new light-up screen in an old Game Boy Advance so I can see easier while I’m playing it! I also watch a lot of anime, and I used to read a lot more when I had time, mostly older sci-fi (like Asimov or Dick), or James Bond, or whatever.

Like many people of similar interests, I tend to relate to the world THROUGH those interests, and I always gravitated towards music that did this. So much of my favorite music growing up had lyrics that referenced or explored “nerdier” concepts; hearing Weezer sing “In the Garage”, Ozma mention Luigi, or Jawbreaker mention having a Sega was massive for me growing up, and it encouraged me to do the same. (And as soon as I heard Nerf Herder doing pretty much the same thing for an entire album? I was doomed to walk that road).

We’ve had songs about the recent Transformers comic, or whatever anime I watched last, or needing to play video games to avoid my depression and a lot of similar stuff, and it’s honestly all influenced by other bands like Piebald or Rozwell Kid. They don’t mind referencing particular things about their lives in their music. Stuff like that somehow feels more relatable to me, even if I’ve never been to the places they’re talking about or don’t know the friends they’re singing to.

Anthony:
Here’s one of my new favorite questions to ask, what equipment do you play live vs. recording, and do you have any instruments separate for personal use or is it all the same?

Tim:
I absolutely do have a core rig that I use on all our recordings and used at our shows back when those happened. It’s either a Reverend with P90s or another Reverend or my American Strat that both have a DiMarzio Tone Zone in the bridge (again, because of that article about The Offspring) into a ProCo RAT and a bunch of modulation pedals (chorus, phaser, flanger), into a Fender Hot Rod amp. The combination of those guitars, the Rat and the Fender, is sort of the backbone of the Bathroom tone. I was using the Rat my dad gave me back in 2001 for a long time, but I worried about breaking it, so I replaced it with a modern Fat Rat with the same chips in it.

I’m always one to goof around in the studio, though. Our usual guy, Tom from Cow Haus Recording here in Michigan, has a room full of amps he’s happy to let me use, so when it times to cut the second rhythm guitar track, I’m always going to be goofing around with different Marshalls and Mesas and distortion pedals for a good 10 minutes before I even start playing. I know this isn’t the most punk thing to say. Still, I’ve always believed that if you have some resources in the studio to make the album sound good, even if you can’t exactly replicate it live, then go for it, since that song will be what people go back to on Spotify.

Anthony:
What do you miss the most about getting on the stage with tours currently suspended?

Tim:
Almost more so than playing, I love the communal atmosphere. Many people, most of them probably already friends, come together with a specific interest and want to spend time in the same way. You can see people you don’t see that often; you get to either support your friends or see some band you’ve always loved, and everyone is there with the same goal of trying to have fun and not get beer spilled on you. It already sounds like an ideal situation, and the fact I get to go up there and play the music I’ve always wanted to make is the cherry on top.

Anthony:
What do you see post-COVID for Bathroom of the Future?

Tim:
More of the same nonsense, except louder, more of it, and hopefully better. We’ve got some recordings we’re sitting on in various states of readiness, and I really can’t wait for people to hear the new stuff. I think the songs we’ve been working on are a little more indicative of our shared influences and how we’ve all developed as musicians over the years, and I think people will respond pretty well to them.

And one day, when shows come back, we’ll be right back on that wagon. We’ve had one big one rescheduled twice that, knock on wood, should be happening when it’s safe to get together like that again, and we can’t wait to see everyone and hear that guitar feedback like we used to.

Anthony:
And lastly, where can people find your music?

Tim:
Darn near everywhere! I think our two EPs and our full-length “Words I Had” are still on basically any streaming service you want to use (OTHER than Pandora), and we might even have some copies on CD if you’re into that sort of thing. I do warn you if you try to Google us, make sure to use the word “band” because “bathroom of the future” tends to bring up a lot of articles about weird, expensive restrooms.

Anthony:
Tim, thanks again for doing this with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add or mention that we may have missed or didn’t touch on today?

Tim:
Thanks so much for having me, and be excellent to each other!

Interested in learning more about the music of Bathroom of the Future? Check out the link below:

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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