Tim Mahoney on his first original material since The Voice

Tim Mahoney on his first original material since The Voice
Photo by Jim Vasquez

While NBC's The Voice has brought us quite the cast of colorful characters, who could ever forget seeing hometown hero Tim Mahoney on the show's first season. In the almost two years since the Adam Levine-coached singer lost in a contested decision in the show's "battle round," he's been working on Shine Through, his first album of new material in five years. With the album's release party set for this Friday at the Fine Line with G.B. Leighton and War Poets, we thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Mahoney to discuss life after The Voice and how it shaped this new album. See Also: Adam Levine mistakes Tim Mahoney for 'a chick' in promo for new NBC show 'The Voice' Nicholas David places third on The Voice

How much impact did your time on The Voice have on the creation of Shine Through?

It's one of those things where the exposure has been great, but I was on the first season and the show is much bigger now, so some people are like "You weren't on The Voice!" But, as far as making the record, it took a little longer than I wanted to, but it's my first original material since The Voice, so I'm hoping I can connect to some of those same people I connected to.

Was the recording process much different than your last record?

It was. We had the band play live in the studio and we pretty much recorded the whole thing in four days. The record I previously had out took six months and had massive overdubs and I just wanted to make this one feel a little more like a band. I think we captured some good stuff. I just didn't want to make it too extremely polished. We got some light-hearted songs in there and a couple serious songs from a break-up, so it's got a little something for everyone I hope.

What appeals to you about recording an album with a band live-to-tape?

The warmness. Sometimes, in the digital world, things start to sound a little crunchy and each track has 45 tracks on it. Making a warm sound of bass drums, guitar, vocals and piano is fun. Even though I have quite a few records, I've never really done that before. It's kind of like playing a show in the studio and putting up some good sounds.

You have a song on the record called "It's Over" about the shooting this past summer in Colorado. What struck you about that tragedy that compelled you to write about it?

When I say "about," it wasn't really about the shooting. I think it was really inspired by a couple that got split up and one of them didn't make it. The guy essentially saved the girl, and it was the sad realization that that part of their life is over. We hear of all these tragedies, and we can't do much, I guess as a musician we can write a song as an outlet or way to deal with this. That was kind of my way.

The first single, "Shine Through," was written for a couple you know. How did they react to the song and finding out it was going to be the title track?

They were pumped. It was one of those things where I made up this song for them and kind of modeled it after a really simple pop song with an almost "nursery rhyme"-kinda chorus about how they felt about it each other. It hit home with them and stayed with me and I thought "let's put it on the record." As we were recording, it kind of felt like a stronger song than we thought so we made it the first single.

G.B. Leighton, who will be performing with you at the Fine Line, is also on the album. Where did you invite him into your soundscape?

It's for a song called "Still Belong," and I wrote the song but thought we'd never done anything together [yet] we've been doing the same thing in this town for years. What if I just brought him in on it? He liked the concept, how we still belong around. It fits the story of us being up-and-down and the ways of the music industry. I thought it was, not just a cool song, but a cool thing because we'd never done it together.

I saw on your website that you were going to be surprising a fan that reached out to you named Susan who suffers from Chronic Pseudo Obstruction Intestinal Dysmotility. If you don't mind me asking, what was the surprise?

The surprise was the new record. She contacted me saying she would love to get the record before it came out, which started out as a cool Facebook message, and then she continued on saying the reason why is because she didn't know if she was going to be alive when it comes out. I went and visited with her, gave her the CD before it came out and also brought my guitar. I played some songs for her, we talked, cried a little and I gave her a couple hugs. It was one of those almost surreal moments where you're talking to a person who knows they're going to die and they want a Tim Mahoney record which [makes] you feel almost small. You just try to be brave and say "OK, I'll do that." I've still been talking to her through texts, she's doing solid. She's in hospice care, but it's something where it definitely changed me a little bit. You have these things about "making it" in the business, and it's things like that where it just feels overwhelming.

Finally, you have this record release show at the Fine Line where you've played many times before. Do you have any particular favorite memories of the Fine Line?

I've been playing there since like '95. It's just been kind of like my home. I know everybody there and I think I've always done my record release parties there. As far as a unique memory, I'm a massive Elvis fan and I got to play with Lisa Marie Presley last summer, and that was surreal. One other fun memory was in '97, when "MTV Unplugged" was big, I wanted to have a show where we would be plugged in on acoustic guitars and we were actually going to have strings and violin players. So, I hired these guys not knowing how old they were from the U of M, and they were like 70. They were great, but why this is funny is because this was a Tim Mahoney rock show. We were backstage, and the chicks were all over these old guys, doing shots with them. Actually, because they were kind of partying, they didn't really play as good as I wanted them too because they were kind of lit by the time they announced me. It was just classic.

Tim Mahoney performs at the Fine Line Music Cafe on Friday, January 25 with GB Leighton and War Poets
21+, $12, 8:15 p.m.

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