One night when we, The Rum Diary, were playing at the Tradewinds in Cotati, one of our old haunts, a gentlemen came up and introduced himself after the show. He wanted to bring us to his studio, produce and record our next album. We had heard this many times from many people, but this was different. This guy was interested in MUSIC. He talked about it beautifully, elegantly, and we instantly trusted him. There is a big difference between trying to drum up business for your studio, and going out to watch bands, finding musicians you want to work with. He knew about our band, he had ideas of how to capture our sound in the studio, he was so fucking charming when talking about music, so understated, so mellow, yet fiercely passionate and knowledgeable. It was irresistible. Of course we fell for it.
We recorded two albums with Tim, spent many hours in the studio with him. He was a good friend and a true artist when it came to music, recording it, playing it, thinking about it. He and I spent much time commuting into the city from Sonoma County. We would listen to music on these drives, we would introduce each other to new music, he would deconstruct songs and talk about the beauty in them. Since then I always wished I had the musical brain that Tim had, always focused on feel above technique, finding the beauty in mistakes, making music interesting again.
We also had the privalege of meeting Jude, Tim’s wife, who was an incredible artist herself. Our hearts go out to her and their daughter. We love you Tim, music will miss you.
Year 2005, mixing the last Rum Diary album, We’re Afraid of Heights Tonight. We had not worked with anyone like Tim Mooney before. He came to us with an interest in producing and mixing. He was a veteran of sound, an accomplished musician and engineer. I recall being a bit intimidated, but after a few minutes speaking with Tim that all vanished.
His studio in San Francisco dubbed “Closer”. Joy Division reference. I really liked that. I knew then that this guy was in the correct mindset. He liked our sound; he had great ideas on how to manipulate it. He spoke of sounds coming from different “rooms” like a separation but still together. I was starting to like this guy a lot. He would sit cross-legged in his chair and nonchalantly twist and turn knobs like he was piloting some strange sound device. He had a deft touch that could only come from somebody with an inherent ability to precisely control and utilize sound to its greatest level. He was funny and patient too, with all of us sitting there each with his own opinion, he would take into account everyone’s input and do his best to make it work. He had a wry smile that suggested he was in on our goofy antics and inter-band jokes. I liked Tim a lot, and I wish I could see him again one last time.
Tim Mooney was a member of American Music Club, he played on Sun Kil Moon’s debut LP, 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway, and was a prior member of the Sleepers, Negative Trend and Toiling Midgets. Tim was also a producer and engineer, and operated his own Closer Recording studio in San Francisco.