Libertarian And Songwriter Tim Yordy (Brave Machine)
What are your influences? Who or what inspires?
Tim Yordy: I grew up in a conservative Christian church and household that was unfortunately influenced by the teachings of Bill Gothard. If you aren't familiar, at one time he was a leading voice of the "rock music is of the devil" crowd. Consequently, my exposure to music beyond Christian adult contemporary and Southern Gospel music was severely limited.
As a young teenager, my music access broadened a bit as my older siblings started exercising some listening freedom in their cars. Two early influences on me were PFR and Newsboys. PFR was this Christian melodic pop-rock band that often drew comparisons to some of the Beatles music. The Newsboys at the time were fronted by Peter Furler, and had most of their lyrics written by Steve Taylor. Furler's music still inspires me. If you listen to the Newsboys albums from the mid 90s to the early 2000s with a set of good headphones, you will hear so many layers of instruments and voices that just magically come together into something amazing. And Steve Taylor was and remains a lyrical genius. Their album Take Me To Your Leader still stands up well more than 25 years later, I think.
Later In my teen years, I listened to a lot of MxPx, Five Iron Frenzy, and Relient K. In a weird way, I think you can hear all of those influences on my album.
What can you tell me about your recent Brave Machine album?
Tim: My first Brave Machine album is a mix of pop-punk and synth pop. Depending on the song, I've heard comparisons made to bands like Jimmy Eat World and Crumbacher. I love Jimmy Eat World so that makes sense. I had never heard of Crumbacher before, but have since listened to most of their catalog and really love their vocal arrangements.
It took nearly five years to get the album finished, which is an absurd amount of time. I recently published a history of Brave Machine at bravemachineband.com where you can read the full story of why it took so long. The TLDR version is: I was learning as I went, it went from a band to a mostly solo effort, I was working multiple jobs, we renovated our new home, and I had a myriad of health issues.
Lyrically, the songs range from the absurd to the heartfelt with some social commentary thrown in for good measure. I've sometimes wondered if lyricists like Steve Taylor and Reese Roper (Five Iron Frenzy) influenced my writing, or if I just latched onto their songs because that's who I innately was as a writer as well.
Do you create art with a specific message, or do you prefer art for arts sake?
Tim: I write about what is on my heart and mind at the time. That could be something that's weighing me down in my own life or society, or something that's been inspiring me, or something that strikes me as funny.
"Captain Cake Punch" is a good example of the last one. I had this stray thought about a superhero whose only power was that he punched cakes, and the chorus lyrics and melody just kind of came to me and sat in my head for a few years before I fleshed it out into a full song. Now I've got this superhero called Captain Cake Punch who rescues people from parties they don't want to be at by showing up and punching birthday cakes. One reviewer said something like "I just didn't connect with the lyrics." There's no deep message in this one, I promise. It is literally about a guy who had a mental breakdown and now spends his time destroying desserts for the common good.
What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use to make your songs?
Tim: I have a lot of alone time to think each day and sometimes a thought will pop in my head that I think might make a good song. Most often I have a a few lyric lines and melody in mind first, and then later I sit down with my guitar and figure out what chords might work with it.
Thinking about this question reminded me of days gone by when I was in bands that would just jam, and I could write lyrics for full songs in a single practice. I sometimes miss that environment.
How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?
Tim: I don't know that I can identify an exact time frame. It is something that has developed over many years into a more firm position. Election cycle after election cycle of Republicans and Democrats putting up terrible candidates and promoting terrible policy positions should be enough to push people away from both parties. A desire for personal freedom and keeping the government out of my business should be something most people would agree on but we just aren't there as a society.
As a Christian, I've had other Christians tell me that "there's no such thing as a Libertarian Christian", or "You can't be a Christian and a Libertarian". But this is a bizarre worldview to me. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul writes, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive."
To me, that is a good definition of libertarian thought from a Christian worldview. I choose not to engage in or support certain behaviors, not because the government tells me not to, but because my conscience tells me not to. I've certainly run into libertarians who have different views on social and moral issues than I do, and that's fine. If God is concerned about whatever the issue in question is, then I'd rather people come to a different conclusion about that issue because God changed their hearts and minds, not because some corrupt political party passed law X to restrict the rights of small voting bloc A just so the larger voting bloc B is more likely to keep the party in power.
If anyone is under the misapprehension that any politician or party has their wellbeing in mind when they make policy decisions, I strongly recommend reading the book The Dictator's Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith. It will cure you of many an ill-conceived idea about how much politicians care about you.
What do you think the role of art should be in the libertarian movement?
Tim: The Libertarian Party has a marketing problem in the form of bandwidth. The Democrats and Republicans control so much of the public sphere, and the LP, being smaller and less homogenized, is at a big disadvantage.
Art (most of the time) exists outside of political spheres of influence. I think there's a lot of room for libertarian minded people to weave libertarian principles into their art in an organic way that doesn't feel forced or like party propaganda. The Interrupters are a band that does a great job of putting libertarian ideals into their lyrics.
Also, this is going back several decades, the TV adaptation of Little House on the Prairie often had libertarian themed episodes, and people still watch reruns of that show all these years later.
I heard you were working on recording some Christmas songs. What can you tell me about that?
Tim: I am indeed. I'm working on four songs. Three of them are covers of modern Christmas songs, and the fourth is a classic Christmas carol. Christmas music is fun because fans are usually more willing to accept some deviance from the musical genre they expect an artist to be in. I still have a lot of work to do, but it is coming together!
Where can people go to listen to your music?
Tim: Anywhere that you would regularly stream or download music, Brave Machine should be available. If anyone is interested in the stories behind each song, they can be found at bravemachineband.com.
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