Trip Wood, Tre Mason, Frank Robertson and Preston Little relax after a long day of work, school and band practice. Photo by Kate Sullivan.
Story by Hannah Garrett and Caleb Jones
The band lounged around on the couch after a late night practice session, visibly exhausted but genuinely in love with the opportunity they have to make music.
However, The Timid Sons, comprised of Trip Wood, Frank Robertson, Tré Mason and Luke Brown, only get to make this music after their full days of work and school. They come together late at night to practice and develop new songs, and wake up the next day to do it all over again.
The band’s only studio-recorded album to date, a self-titled work, includes its most popular single, Cocaine Lips. This up and coming band loves to play shows in the Birmingham area, but also likes to travel as well.
“It all started when Frank walked up to me in the food court and said he had a song idea,” Wood said. “We weren’t in a band yet, but he proceeded to pull out a napkin with the words ‘cocaine lips and a hurricane smile.’ I was expecting a chorus or something at least, but all I got was a phrase.”
“That ended up being all I needed though; I took the napkin back to my apartment, sat down and wrote the whole song that day. In that moment The Timid Sons were born,” said Wood.
The band’s name, The Timid Sons, came about when Robertson was reading a book called “I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son” by Kent Russell. The book itself is based off a famous Davy Crockett quote.
With a band name and one song under his belt, Wood was ready to churn out music at a rapid rate.
“This book really resonated with us,” Wood said, “The idea that a father would really rail their son and be that openly disappointed with him made the realization that we are all born into expectations. People naturally have expectations of us. While you are born into a world of disappointment, that doesn’t mean that you are a disappointment. While we are imperfect, and while we aren’t necessarily a band with full time musicians, we accept it, move on and make music we want to hear.”
Wood said he had a handful of ideas already in his head from the previous few years. At the time he didn’t think he would actually use them. Some of the lyrics he had were from experiences that happened that month and others were just things he thought about and wrote down.
Following their first song, “Cocaine Lips,” the band spent about a month recording eight songs at Mountain Brook Community Church. The album came together so quickly because Wood would spend days on end recording music, often times sleeping in the studio to maximize histime.
“Back when we were recording, a few days would pass,” Robertson said, “and I wouldn’t have seen Trip, so I would stop by the studio. I found him there multiple times, tucked away by himself, with lots of cups of coffee, some fresh, and some not so fresh. Trip would have this twitchy, kind of crazed look about him, but he was producing our songs at a ridiculously fast rate. Sometimes you just let the man work and appreciate the results.”
At this time, the band was moving quickly and Wood was rushing the entire thing because he wanted to have a couple of singles to release right away. Because of this, only three of the band members actually recorded on the album. It was challenging for their old drummer from Atlanta to drive to Birmingham every so often to record so they began to reach out to find a new drummer.
The Timid Sons faced several challenges in its early days, such as finding a permanent drummer in the Birmingham area, recording for the first time and singing in front of an audience for the first time. Wood said he was unsure of how to carry himself in front of others and found the experience of playing live nerve racking at first.
They are currently working on two new songs including one Trip wrote about a blind man called Jim James. The song, he explained, is about how easily we can get wrapped up in our own frustrations while much worse things happen in the world.
“I was driving back from my Spanish test and was obsessing about how bad I had done. I was drinking my Starbucks, listening to my favorite music, and just being super self-indulgent,” Wood said, “I was going down Lakeshore Drive and reached the part where there isn’t anything for about a mile and that’s when I saw this guy at the bus stop. He was blind, and he was sitting out there on the bench, in the sun, during the hottest part of the day, in the middle of the summer.”
“In that moment it became really obvious how self-indulgent I was being. Some of the lyrics I wrote were completely bashing myself and I had to refrain from keeping them in the song. How could I be so self-obsessed? This man is probably going to work right now, and probably not to his first job, more than likely, to his second one and he is blind. There was just a lot of things going through my mind at that moment and I was able to get it out on paper.”
What does music mean to you?
It’s meant a lot of different things to me, especially in the last few years. If I’ve learned one thing about music, it’d be this: Music can be a stress reliever, a medium to express yourself and so much more. However, once you start expecting something from it, you start to lose it.
How does your music reflect who you are as a person/musician?
Sometimes I worry that it reflects who I am a bit too much: fast, irrational, and not thought through.
Describe a typical day for you.
My average day changes frequently. Right now, the only things that are constant are how much I eat and that I write two songs’ worth of lyrics a day.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What role does your music play in that plan?
Hopefully I’ll still be pursuing music as a career. Like I’ve said before, the men and women that do this full time are incredible. It takes a lot of guts to decide to make your living off of something so inconsistent.
What do you play in the band? How long have you been playing?
I play guitar and have been playing since about 7th grade
What do you do when you are not playing with The Timid Sons?
I work part time and am trying to figure out if I want to go back to school this coming year or pursue full time work.
Is it hard to balance music and work?
The biggest challenge is to feel like I’m being responsible in my pursuit of both. It seems like practices can only happen later at night, but I have to be up by 6 a.m. in order to start my morning for work.
What is your best memory with the band?
One of our first shows back from the summer at a venue called the High Note. It was one of our first shows at a legitimate venue with a real sound guy and PA system, and this stage that was so tall but not very wide. It was one of the first moments that “we’re a real band” clicked in my head.
What is your goal for the band?
To go as far as we can.