Interview with Bassist Timothy Gaines (former Stryper, Aldo Nova)

Photo by James St. Laurent

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Timothy! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.

CV: Many artists have used their status as a means to create awareness to a number of global social and political causes. Critics on both sides have, however, commented that some artists overstep their boundaries, jeopardizing fan trust by using their celebrity influence on others, often times for their own agenda. What do you see as the artists' role in our society? Is the role of an artist in a position of great influence?
Timothy Gaines: Personally, I believe there is some good that can be done by celebrity status when you can do something good to help others. Bringing awareness to a product you endorse, or to a good cause like raising money to help people in need is perfectly fine by me. Things like that are great. But in the long run, I admire a celebrity for what they do as an artist, whether it be music or acting. When it becomes more than that then I turn them off like a light switch, and I think a lot of their fan base does the same thing.

CV: Can artists, in your opinion, have a positive effect on societal change without overstepping both their celebrity position and personal beliefs? Is it a matter of integrity and character?
TG: Yes, I think we saw that with Stryper in the 80s. We created a movement based on our religious beliefs put to music. It was, at that time, something that went against the grain. The message was positive and the music was good. We had a positive effect on society at a time when the alternative was sex, drugs, and the devil. 

CV: Music has a way of bridging the proverbial gap often felt among's nostalgic and inspirational. Do you see music as something that possesses healing properties?
TG: Absolutely. Music has a way of bringing people together spiritually. Not in a religious sense, but rather of like mindedness. Example - We both could be opposites politically, but that divide can be healed though music.

CV: Let's talk a little about Faithsedge and the new album "Bleed For Passion." The album has a powerful sound; big guitars and driving beats. There is definitely a throwback vibe to the songs and delivery, yet it cuts through with a modern energy. Was the album's particular sound and style something the band wanted to capture or was it more of an organic outgrowth given the veteran lineup and level of talent?
TG: The album sound, in my opinion, came together organically. We didn’t record the album as a band together in the same room. It came from songs that Giancarlo wrote, and those songs were given to Alex to lay down the basic guitar tracks in Italy. Those tracks were sent to Matt in Los Angeles to lay down the drums. By the time I got the songs, we had guitars, drums, and a scratch vocal line. I recorded the bass tracks at my home studio in Phoenix. Those final tracks were sent back to Giancarlo in Los Angeles to record the vocals. When all of the tracks were finished, the whole thing was sent back to Alex in Italy to do the lead guitar and then mix the project. The process took about a year to complete. So I actually heard the album for the first time when it was released like everybody else did. The whole thing came about on our home computers. I think if we had all been in the same room and recorded, we would have had a much different sound. But I like the way it turned out. I think Alex did a great job producing. 

CV: The music of the 80s is timeless. Its influence is unquestionable, leaving both artist and fan still wanting more. What do you think it was about 80s music that left such an impact on so many?
TG: Every decade has its theme. I grew up with music from the 60s and 70s. For me, those songs impacted my life as a person and a musician. In the 80s, we had MTV which made artists even more popular because of the visual aspect. Now, you had to look good as well as play. The BIG hair and make-up was over the top, but it was our look. We all identified with that. You knew if someone had the “look” that they were into 80s music. You don’t have that today. Music is boring and everyone looks like a lumber jack or some tattooed freak with piercings. The 80s for most of us were the best times of our lives, and we all want to go back to that time when life was easier and we had no responsibility. 

CV: Do you feel music fans may be stuck in the 80s and avoid giving newer music and artists a chance? Or is there enough to go around for everyone?
TG: Most 80s music fans are now in their late 40s or early 50s. They don’t have the time to invest in new music. I know for me personally, I have enough music to last the rest of my life. I don’t relate to new music as I did when I was going to school. The music I grew up with are the theme songs of my life. Even artists that I have liked for years that are still making new music, when I go to a concert I just want to hear the songs that made them famous. There is still a need to create music. I enjoy making new music. And I would be thrilled if something I recorded suddenly started getting airplay. But for the most part, I know that those days are pretty much over.

CV: As an artist, does diversity offer relevancy? Is it easy to get caught up in a particular routine and style causing one’s self to “miss the boat” on other opportunities?
TG: At this point in my career I am just trying to make music that appeals to me personally. I see relevance as a sell out if there is no growth musically. We saw that with certain artists during the Disco era that suddenly changed to conform to what was popular during the time. You saw that with Stryper during the Against The Law period where we changed our look and sound to conform with what was going on at the time, although musically I believe it was growth in the right direction, our fans were confused by the change and were alienated. Today fans are more appreciative of Against The Law than they were back then.  As a bass player I try to be diverse. I can easily cross genres skillfully because I continuously practice or perform those different styles of music that challenge my brain.  Over this last year I have played on 80s type metal, Hard Rock, Pop Rock, and Pop Jazz albums.

CV: Of Gods and Monsters is another talented veteran lineup you are currently involved with.  Do you find it much simpler just to connect with experienced musicians as opposed to joining the ranks of a yet unknown band or group of players?
TG: Of Gods and Monsters has been a lot of fun. We all get along great and enjoy each other. The album is going to blow a lot of people away when it’s finally released. Yes, It is easier to connect with other players who are established because we all have connections to each other in some form or another, and it’s what we do for a living. It’s just easier to book shows and make some money with players who have an established name than it is with unknown players. For most of us nowadays, we all have many projects going on. Unless something takes off and gains some popularity on a large scale, you have to keep your eggs in several baskets.

CV: In your opinion, is the popularity of music super groups today a result of the lack of quality new bands are offering to the listening public? Or are they an economic way for veteran performers to pull their resources and collective audiences in a time when music as a whole is struggling?
TG: Well, we’ve always had super groups. Look at Cream, Beck Bogert Appice, Traveling Wilburys, etc. They come and go over time until the next project. It’s just a way for like-minded players to get together and make some music and maybe a little money too. None of us are getting rich from it. Each one of us has an individual following to some degree, and I think it’s really those followers who keep it afloat.

CV: So many memes poking fun at bass players circulate social media, do you ever take offense by them and the stigma they create...or do you just see it all as a tongue and cheek good time?
TG: If you can’t laugh at yourself then you’ve got problems. I’ve always said my role in Stryper as a bass player, was to fill in that empty space on stage right. But at the same time I think those Memes have created an atmosphere of hostility towards bass players from people who are really clueless as to the role of the bass in the first place. When someone attacks me personally saying that “I am not very smart so that is why I chose to play bass,” then you start to wonder. Fact is that I chose to play bass because that is what I gravitated towards when I listened to music. I also play piano and guitar, and if I put 40 plus years of my blood sweat and tears into those instruments, I would also be skilled at either one. It takes just as much effort and practice to become proficient on bass guitar as it does with any instrument.

CV: Paul McCartney once said "None of us wanted to be the bass player. In our minds he was the fat guy who always played at the back," with regards to which of the Beatles members would play bass. Did you ever have this type of feeling when choosing to be a bass player?
TG: No, I never did. That may have been true in the 50s when the Beatles were starting out. But look at where Paul McCartney is today. At some point in the 70s playing bass was a good thing. I always gravitated towards the bass players of the day. They may have been the quiet ones of the group, but I always thought being the bass player was the coolest part of being in a band. When guys like Jaco Pastorius hit the scene in 1976 everything changed.

CV: McCartney also felt that it was the bass that defined guitar chords. Do you share a similar perspective? Does the bass make guitar chords stand out, bringing them to life, in a song?
TG: Absolutely! That’s the little secret we share as bass players. I can change one note in a chord and change a rock song into jazz. I hold the most power in a band because I can hold the whole band hostage just by changing a few notes around in a progression. Ever want to see a Metal band in terror? Change the root note. Change the progression and you change the whole feel and sound of a song. It’s really quite fun.

Photo by James St Laurent
CV: Your career has taken you around the world, given you gold records and multiple opportunities to work with many notable artists including Stryper, Aldo Nova and recently the Appice Brothers, Carmen and Vinnie, to name just a few. To date, what do you feel has been your greatest achievement?
TG: I’ve played for several artists apart from Stryper like Richard Marx, Aldo Nova, several CCM artists, and spent 10 years playing in a pop jazz group. I’ve played on a lot of records. I’ve released my own solo album in 2009. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to do many successful things because I play bass. Obviously, Stryper’s success over the years was a great achievement, but I’m still looking to the future and hoping there will be a greater achievement than that. Time will tell. I was writing a book about my life, and the whole thing just kinda stopped when I was released from Stryper. I was going to leave it at that, but then realized I still have more things to do with my life, and more chapters to write. 

CV: Does working with multiple artists and on various projects appeal moreso to you now as a career path in comparison to previously being committed to only one band? Do such opportunities garnish greater reward as an artist for you, aside from great songs and financial gains?
TG: I really enjoy working with different people, but I would commit to one band if it were financially stable.  I’m not looking at getting rich. But you do have to make a living and pay bills. I’ve been touring since I was 18. Making music is all I know how to do. At 57, it’s kind of hard to change career paths. So I’ll be playing music at some level as long as I am physically able.

CV: What's next for you?
TG: In the short term, I’ve been getting songs together for another solo album. This time I would like to put a band together and do some shows with it.
Of Gods and Monsters is going to be doing some shows in 2020,  and I am going to be on tour with Aldo Nova starting August of 2020.
I am still available to record bass tracks for demos and album projects. Hopefully, I’ll have some more chapters to write for my book too.

CV: Thank you again Timothy for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
TG: Thanks for asking. All the best,

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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