Actor Tim Roth escaped the rough and tumble South London punk scene by pursuing art and proved to be a compelling performer -- and a favorite of director Quentin Tarantino. His Guest DJ set is in large part a love letter to his family, his adopted home of America, and his storied career. Tim is part of the ensemble cast for David Lynch's new Twin Peaks series, premiering on Showtime on May 21. (Hosted by Eric J Lawrence)
1. Cocteau Twins - "Heaven or Las Vegas"
2. Pixies - "Debaser"
3. Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc"
4. Radiohead - "Reckoner"
5. Commodores - "Nightshift"
Hi I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I’m here with actor Tim Roth. He’s a compelling performer, one of director Quentin Tarantino’s favorites and will also be a part of the ensemble cast for David Lynch’s new Twin Peaks series premiering on Showtime in May.
But today we’re here to talk about music, specifically 5 songs that have inspired him throughout his life as a part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Tim, thanks so much for coming down.
Eric:What’s the first track you’ve got for us?
Tim: The first one is Cocteau Twins, it's “Heaven or Las Vegas”.
We were struggling to put together a list for this. You get bullied. One is the wife’s input, which makes you want to run in the other direction and be belligerent and a child, But, cause we’re about a quarter of a century in now, a lot of these are really moments that we’ve had.
This was what we played at our wedding and our wedding took place in the jungle, in Belize. Right in the middle of nowhere, with one friend and the rest of it was a film crew. So the entire film crew could come to the wedding, they all got 3 days off and they all got completely messed up in the middle of the jungle.
Eric: And how did this get selected for that occasion?
Tim: It was something that me and Nikki were…we were just obsessing on at the time. This was an album that we kinda fell in love with. And the absolute inability to understand what is being said or sung or all that, I found kind of charming, really.
Eric: Well here it is, the Cocteau Twins with “Heaven or Las Vegas”.
*Song: Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas*
Eric: That was the Cocteau Twins with “Heaven or Las Vegas”, featuring their trademark incomprehensible lyrics as selected by our guest Tim Roth.
Tim: I love that. Eric: What’s the next track you got for us?
Tim: Alright, so the next one is Pixies “Debaser”. I was listening to this when I was playing Vincent Van Gogh with Oldman. There was this, particularly, that I would listen to a lot on the set, constantly. I think that was the beginning of walkmen, so that shows ya…
Eric: And do you use music as a way to kind of approach a character?
Tim: Um, I get stuff stuck in my head, I think that’s more of what it is. Like this song, pretty much sums up the mood.
Eric: In terms of the Pixies, how did you come upon them?
Tim: I have no idea! I have no idea, why I would have found it. That was before I came to America. I took my son to see them a couple of years back when they were playing and got to say hi to them. They’re fascinating to me.
Eric: Well here they are, the Pixies with “Debaser”
*Song: The Pixies - The Debaser*
Eric: That was the Pixies with “Debaser”, from 1989 -- partially an inspiration for our guest Tim Roth in his film “Vincent & Theo”. What’s the next track you got for us?
Tim: The next one is a Gorillaz track, “Feel Good Inc.” I was gonna go down the Blur road because you have to, cause it’s one of the most extraordinary bands, but then I got sidetracked by the Gorillaz because… I suppose it’s his, Damon Albarn’s way of exploring all kinds of music, all genres and all of that. He actually recorded some music for a film I was in and I had met him before. It feels that the Gorillaz is where my boys take over in a way.
Eric: Did you educate your sons to music? Do they educate you to music?
Tim: No. My wife’s really good at music. My wife has great musical mojo, I have crap. My wife’s got all my son’s playlists, she can talk music with both of my guys. They left me behind a long time ago.
Eric: You mentioned Damon Albarn being sort of a renaissance man in terms of his musical interests.
Eric: Does that apply to you in terms of your cinematic interests and the roles that you choose?
Tim: I don’t have any kind of agenda, and I never really quite know what’s coming around the corner. And I think that’s been alright.
I mean I’ve done some crap films, I’ve done some films just to pay the rent, I’ve done some good stuff. I think I’ve had a better run at being in things that I’ve enjoyed than a lot of actors do, to be honest. When I think back on it, I’m very fond of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
*Song: Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc*
Eric: That was the Gorillaz with “Feel Good Inc.” as selected by our guest, Tim Roth. Radiohead is your next pick.
Tim: It’s “Reckoner”. I was just working in Canada for about six months and I would just go out and walk to this in Calgary. Not the most exciting place in the world, Calgary. So this one, this one kind of babysat me.
Especially, if I’m away all of the time, I’m in hotel rooms. And it sounds much more glamorous than it actually deserves to because, when I’m in a hotel, I’m usually just at work and it means that I’m away from my family. And it has a different kind of connotation -- sometimes happily, sometimes not.
But if you listen to Radiohead when you’re away and if you’re feeling it a bit, it can really kick you in the ass. But you know there’s nothing more beautiful than listening to him sing, his sad, sad songs. He has quite a voice.
*Song: Radiohead - Reckoner*
Eric: That was Radiohead with “Reckoner” as selected by our guest Tim Roth. What’s the final track you got for us?
Tim: It’s Commodores, “Night Shift. And it’s just a beautiful song. Again, it’s got a kinda melancholy to it, when you talk about Marvin, you know? But it’s just, SUPER American and I’m getting to that point now -- I’m really close -- where I will have spent more time in America than I will have spent in the country that I’m from. And I’m quite happy with that situation. It’s just a nod in that direction, of the sort of fantastic time I’ve had here, you know? And it’s a beautiful song.
Eric: I do think about your early films you’re often playing kind of, what I think of, as classic British punk.
Tim: Yeah, I was gonna go down that route, but I decided not to.
Eric: Did that music influence you at all in terms of kind of approaching those roles?
Tim: It seriously did. It was a wild time. It only lasted for a minute. A year, a year and a half, was really what punk was. It was the Chelsea mob which who were more art “collegy” or “groovy” and then there was the South London kind of contingent which was rough. And I found myself in the middle of that. And my escape from it was to go to art school. That was running away in a big way from the punk thing. And then leaving art school, I found myself playing a skinhead in my first job. It was a huge influence on all of us, but it sounds really corny when you talk about it now.
Eric: Well, clearly you’ve mellowed out and you’ve talked about your Americanism here with the Commodores and so...
Eric: Well Tim, thank you so much for joining us here at KCRW.com
Tim: Thanks for having me.
Eric: For a complete track listing and to find new songs online, go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through itunes.
(Picture courtesy of Lori Paulson)