Fresh off the release of his first full length, “What World?”, Timmy Rodriguez AKA Sleeping Timmy conducted a Q and A with me about how Sleeping Timmy came about, the recording process of “What World?” and what he will do next.

Q: Can you talk about the genesis for the Sleeping Timmy project?

A: The Sleeping Timmy project was created this past summer. I had always written songs that didn’t end up in any project I was involved in. Most of my music became Break-Ups songs, but once I moved to Grand Rapids and became more involved in my school and just hanging around in the Grand Rapids area more often, I didn’t have as much time to collaborate with The Break-Ups. Every time that I would write a song it I would write it in the mindset that The Break-Ups would be the release of it. Once I was able not to do that as much, I started to look for other creative outlets. I’ve always been the kind of musician who loves collaborating and I’ve been blessed to have made music with the people I have, but I never really did something on my own. So I decided to create this “Sleeping Timmy” name. The name is simply me paying tribute to my favorite band of all time and probably the biggest influence as far as my music goes, The Beatles. It’s derived from the song “I’m Only Sleeping”.

Q: How is this project different from your other bands The Break Ups and/or Drinking Mercury? Musically, Lyrically? How are they similar?

A:Well, in all honesty, musically, a lot of these songs could be Break-Ups songs. Lyrically, this album is a concept album and is way different than anything I have ever done. I have never written songs that had to do with one major theme. I started writing this album last summer. I was exhausted from school, but I still wasn’t able to travel to Lansing to practice as much as I would have liked. So I started writing songs having to do with two teenagers who are in love and are faced with certain problems. This whole album is from the male characters perspective. He is faced with constant obstacles (Her moving away from Philadelphia, the both of them moving in different directions emotionally, him thinking he has feelings for someone else, their first experience with intimacy). It’s pretty much anything you would see on TGIF from 1993-2000. But, it is different in that essence from my other bands, I write strictly autobiographical so this was a change for me. Even though, I may have one or two autobiographical songs on here.

Q: You played everything (minus programmed drums) on the record. It is a true solo record in that regard. Did you always want to do something that didn’t have others attached to it to?

A: No, this is simply my utilizing the resources I had at my disposal. I wrote a lot of songs and most of them get recorded on my computer. If I had every resource available to me, I would have utilized it completely. I would have done it like Johnny Cash’s “American IV: The Man Comes Around”. I would have a lot of people guest star on it. Like I said before, I was blessed to have worked with the people I have been in bands/musical projects with. If I could live in Lansing and have The Break-Ups and Drinking Mercury both at my disposal, I guarantee this project wouldn’t have been created.

> Q: The “Blue Sky” EP focuses more on lo-fi recordings while the “Lucky Charms with Soy Milk” EP leans toward playing with beats and electronics. I think the “What World?” album melds both of those tendencies together. Thoughts? Was that your intent with “What World?”? If not, what was your intent with this, if there was any to begin with?

A: “Blue Sky” is was old recordings, “Soy Milk” was a mixture of old and new recordings. I don’t have a drummer, I don’t have the time nor resources to have a drummer learn all these songs and record them. “What World?” was me just trying to use what I had. I know when I started writing the album I was listening to a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”. I remember loving how “King of The Carrot Flowers” opened up the album. So I took the blueprint of that album and created the first draft, I would say, of this album. “Sandbox” is completely inspired by “King of The Carrot Flowers”, and vocally, I was listening to a lot the “Let It Be” album. But as time passed, more artists starting influencing the re-writing of songs and structure. “The Hazards of Love” by The Decemberists plays a huge influence on this record. A couple of my vocal takes were inspired by Eric Merckling’s vocals on his KISS cover “Beth”. I was also listening to a lot of Violent Femmes towards the end of it.

This album was a lot of experimentation for me. When I recorded piano and organ on the keyboard (Thanks to Jay Eldridge), I would sit there for hours trying to figure out the chords and then I would play the chord progressions over and over until I got it down. I taught myself the mandolin for this project (Thanks to my cousin, Cayla). I went into the creation of this album with the idea of trying to write a concept album. And I will openly say, this idea for this album was result of a conversation I had with Tommy McCord on the way back from an Infinity Shores concert in 2005. I don’t know if he remembers it, but I do. So I have to give Tommy his credit.

Q: What will Sleeping Timmy work on next? What kind of styles will you focus on for new material? Will this “What World?” style (ie acoustic guitars and programmed drums) be a mainstay in your future recordings? How might any new material be different from “What World?”?

A: I have no idea what I am going to be doing next. I’ve written a lot of songs that are the direct result of listening to Mumford and Sons. But I have had a Pixies revival as of late, so they are having a big influence on my song writing. I want to go back and play with beats again. That was fun. I have hours of material that I have recorded since 2008 on this computer. I would like to release some eventually, but I may just re-record what I release. I plan on writing a sequel to “What World?” called “This World” but this album took me six months to record and actually be satisfied with it. So “This World” will probably be on the back burner for a while.