Published Oct 07, 2014For the better part of her 20-plus-year career, Mary Timony has been known for favouring mid-tempos, virtuosic, prog-inspired guitar riffs and the frequent use of piano, sitar and harpsichord, preferences that earned her the status of indie rock's Medieval Queen.
But with her new band Ex Hex (also the name of her 2005 solo album), Timony wanted to keep the good rock'n'roll vibes going after a one-off album and tour with supergroup Wild Flag in 2011. With the help of Laura Harris and Betsey Wright, she's been able to scratch that itch.
Leftover songs written for that previous band became the foundation for this new effort, according to Timony. "I played in Wild Flag and was trying to write songs for that band and kind of got into more of a pop mindset," she says. "That seemed to be what worked best for that band. I had just been trying to write some pop hooks and we didn't end up using them so yes, a few of the songs were written for Wild Flag."
Recorded with Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement) and Bobby Harlow (King Tuff, Burger Records), the power trio's debut, Ex Hex Rips, is arguably even more "rock'n'roll" than Wild Flag. Inspired by power pop and glam, the album is chock full of air guitar anthems, and to quote the press release: "Ex Hex is what your older brother's friends listened to. It's what your babysitters listened to." But mostly, what Timony wanted to listen to.
"I've just been in this phase of songwriting where I've been writing songs that I want to hear," she explains. "Instead of focusing on expressing something and being creative or making ethereal music, I really tried to make songs that I would put on the stereo and dance around to. So that's where I was coming from. I think Betsey and Laura were coming from the same place. Betsey wrote some of the songs on the record too. And something I really like about playing with them is that we share a similar type of music that we're excited about, like early '80s power pop and glam."
After making a name for herself in the mid-'90s with the Matador-signed Helium, Timony entered the millennium as a solo artist, releasing three LPs under her own name, as well as one with the Mary Timony Band before Wild Flag formed. She considers Ex Hex a new angle for her songwriting, but more so a release from her past habit of looking inward and writing about personal subjects.
"I've gone through a lot of phases and ways of thinking about music. And I kind of feel like every time I let go of music and I come back to it from a new angle," she says. "I didn't want to write any more diary entries, which is what I did with my solo stuff. I think I just entered a new mind-frame where I just wrote songs I wanted to listen to. And I don't think I've ever done that before."