Tim King, bassist with the Chicago-based rock band SOiL, has been living the rock lifestyle which countless other musicians would love to live. Starting with an album released on a small independent label, SOiL soon attracted the attention of Clive Davis. During his years as head of Columbia or Arista Records, Davis launched the careers of dozens of music icons such as Aerosmith, Johnny Winter, Whitney Houston, Santana and Pink Floyd. When Davis started J Records in 2001, SOiL was the first metal band he signed.
Now with two major label albums under their belts, Tim and SOiL have a growing list of credentials: Appearances at Ozzfest, opening shows for Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, and constant touring throughout Europe and North America. Rock on Tim!
Who is Tim King? How long have you been playing bass?
Well, Tim King is just a guy who grew up in Chicago and loved metal. I always wanted to be in a band and just fell in love with the bass. It was so low and powerful sounding. Plus everyone in high school wanted to be a drummer or guitarist, so I of course wanted to be the opposite. I've been playing for almost 15 years.
When did you discover the 12-string bass?
Actually my bass tech was always telling me to try one out for a couple of our songs in the set, so we got in touch with Hamer and they sent me one. I loved it and started using it in the live set.
You have mentioned Nikki Sixx as an influence. Did the fact that Nikki plays 12-string basses encourage you to add the 12 to your bass arsenal?
Nikki is definitely my rock and roll hero, no secret about that. I saw him with the 12-string at a concert and thought it was really cool, but I definitely have to thank my tech Willie Gee for encouraging me to pick one up.
How long have you been playing the 12-string bass in your live performances? What is your favorite song to use the 12 on in your concerts? How do people in the audience react when you bring out the 12?
I started using it on the SCARS tour. I used it on the songs "Black 7" and "Unreal". It really gave an eerie tone to those songs. When I had it out on Ozzfest people freaked. They were like, "What the hell is that thing?!?!?!" So it definitely turned a few heads.
What bass rig do you use? Do you have any secrets you would care to share for getting a great bass tone?
I use a very simple and effective bass rig. Powerful, low and snappy. It is all Ampeg SVT Classic heads, Ampeg 8/10 SVT cabs, Sans Amp RBI for direct output, and Digitech bass x-series pedals for certain effects in parts of songs.
SOiL was the first hard rock band signed to Clive Davis’ label, J Records, when it was started in 2001. That is quite an honor! Tell us about that. Did you ever think you would attract the attention of such a major player in the music world?
It was quite surreal to sit in front of Clive Davis and hear him tell you that he is gonna break your band. We had a lot of offers on the table, but J Records and Clive Davis were too good to say "No" to.
SOiL’s latest album “Redefine” was produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, Machine Head). It includes the 12-string bass on several songs. Had Johnny ever recorded a 12 before? Was he enthusiastic about including it or did it take some “selling” on your part?
This was the first time he had recorded a 12 string bass. Since we tune to A# it was definitely a task to get all 12 strings to hold perfect tune. I used it on the songs "Redefine" and "Obsession" to enhance the tone and bass effects. It really turned out well. Johnny is great about experimenting with things, so we had some fun with it.
As you tune down to A#, do you just drop the E strings or all of them? Do you use the standard string gauges or something bigger?
The tuning is all in "C" with the low string drop tuned to A#. The gauges are heavy!! .130, .110, .090 and .070. The octave strings are: .065, .055, .045, .035.
Do you use a pick with the 12 or play it fingerstyle?
I've always used a pick.
Did you use any special techniques in the studio to capture the 12 sound?
It just went straight into my Ampeg SVT Classic head and an Avalon direct box.
How important will the 12-string bass be on future recordings?
I would definitely like to incorporate it somewhere on the new album. We already have a new song written that I think the 12-string would rock on.
You endorse Hamer and are included on their site. How did that come about?
Actually my Hamer endorsement all came about because of the 12-string. They gave me one, a black CH-12. I loved it and now I use their 4-strings as well.
Recently SOiL’s long-time vocalist Ryan McCombs left the band. Have you found a new singer yet? What do you see in the future for SOiL?
We pretty much have the new guy. We should be announcing it officially soon. We definitely feel like we have been "reborn" in many ways. We are writing the best songs of our career musically and when the new vocalist throws down it is gonna turn some heads for sure.
What is your favorite aspect of the music business? What’s the worst part?
My favorite aspect is touring and meeting the fans. I am a live person. I need a crowd to feed off of. The worst part is definitely the politics and business aspect, all cut throat and various BS that is unnecessary.
Finally, what’s your favorite dessert topping, and why?
LOL... I would have to say whipped cream. Plus it has so many other uses besides dessert... LOL
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and continued success with SOiL!
Thanks for the interview, I really appreciate it!
Editor’s note: This interview was originally published on November 1, 2004.