An Interview With Tim Dry
Tim, it’s great to have you over for a chat, how are things with you?
Hi Jim. It’s wonderful to be back here on planet Earth! Things are good. I’m nearing completion of writing the first in a series of novellas entitled ‘Ricochet’, I’m releasing my book ‘CONTINUUM – The Star Wars Phenomenon As Experienced From The Inside’ this month as an ebook/Kindle etc and I have some wonderful music that I made with guitarist Mo Blackford under the name TIMANDMO now released for download on iTunes, Amazon etc. And I’m possibly curating an exhibition of self-portraits/ photo collages in a leading West London art gallery later on this year. And I’m also appearing at various ‘Star Wars’ Conventions and possibly some Horror Cons around the world this year. So I’d say that things are….mobile!
How would you describe yourself?
Whoah, tricky one! To quote from my own PR blurb I’d say that I’m an eclectic, contradictory, inconsistent artist with a very low boredom threshold. But at the same time I’m charming and also the owner of a great sense of humour!
What would you say is your biggest failing?
Hmm, I’d say that my very short attention span has been a substantial contributor to any possible failings, along with a need to constantly re-examine and question myself and my actions. I once read a book entitled ‘The Power Of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, which is a wise piece of advice that says that one should live in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or contemplating possible futures. But so far I seem to have avoided putting most of his sound advice into practice. But hey, I am where I am and I’m happy with it!
What prompted you to move down to Brighton straight after leaving school?
Actually it was in 1972 that I decided (with the prompting of a good friend of mine) that I should leave Art School and seek my destiny elsewhere. I was disappointed with Art College – I’d naively thought that it might be a stimulating hotbed of vibey and creative young things setting out to change the world through art. I was wrong! But then again, it was ME that was wrong because I’d chosen to pursue a possible career in Graphic Design, whereas I should have most definitely opted for Fine Art. So I left to venture to the South coast to make my own jewellery, explore alternate realities and delve deeply into the worlds of writers like Moorcock, Heinlein, Christopher Priest, Hesse, Castenada, Jung, Baba Ram Dass etc, etc.
Do you have an overriding memory of Brighton?
Brighton in ’72/3 was still an undiscovered country for me. I needed to escape the confines of my hometown with its lack of energy and creative environments. To be honest, the only people of infamous note to have come from or lived in Redhill (apart from me, ho, ho!) were Aleister Crowley and Ronnie Biggs (one of the Great Train Robbers). So it was vital that I moved out. Brighton at that time contained a small community of like-minded people that hung out together and enjoyed and shared music, art, mysticism and writing. It was a genuinely beautiful place to live and I enjoyed my time there (however brief it was) immensely. Plus, it’s a very pretty town by the sea and in those days The Lanes was a mysterious warren of old antique shops and oddities that was somehow apart from the rest of the town. Somewhere secretive and slightly dangerous, a bit like Pinkie’s world in Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’.
And can you tell us what The Cosmic Colouring Book is?
When I moved back to Redhill (recently twinned with Dante’s 7th Circle Of Hell by the way!) after my sojourn in Brighton, two dear creative friends of mine suggested that it would be a cool idea to put together a series of drawings from a small group of like-minded artists into a book that could be coloured in by kids and also by hippies with time on their hands! So we did it. We managed to get it published (ISBN number still on Amazon.co.uk) and marketed it everywhere. But the most amazing thing that happened was that, completely out of the blue, we got a call from Angie Bowie’s PR person saying that Angie had (somehow) seen the book and wanted to work with us on an illustrated version of the fairy story ‘Undine’ featuring her as the central character. Wow! Massive! I’m 25 years old, I’m sitting in DAVID BOWIE’S house with his wife getting stoned, drinking chilled Chablis and making plans! But to be honest that whole episode is more fully recounted in my autobiography ‘Falling Upwards’. Shameless plug!
After your time in Brighton, you moved up to London, to study mime. Now before we go any further, I have to confess about my ignorance of the performing arts so please don’t take anything the wrong the wrong. Out of all the performing arts, why Mime? And what exactly is physical theatre?
Mime intrigued me. I’d seen Bowie using elements of it in his act from 1972, I’d seen Marcel Marceau and I’d seen Lindsay Kemp’s shows ‘Flowers’ and ‘Salome’ in 1975. It was an unknown art. Everybody knew about dance (in all of its forms) and theatre, but this was like some secret society that I just felt that I absolutely had to be a part of. Overnight I moved out of my home town to London, found a room in a house owned by an actress and devoted myself to spending as much time as I could exploring this mysterious art. Mime was very much black and white, a visual language wherein you could communicate without the need for words. Which suited my somewhat shy personality perfectly. Physical Theatre? Well, that’s just another way of defining a stage presentation that isn’t solely reliant upon words to drive a narrative.
It was during this period that you first met Barbie Wilde, what was it about Barbie that first drew you to her?
In our mime classes, hosted by our wonderful and inspirational tutor Desmond Jones at The Dance Centre, we would often be called upon to create an improvisation using the technique that we’d learned in that evening’s class. On this memorable night I was paired with an exceedingly cute and beautiful young Canadian girl to portray a fat and a thin couple eating stuff in an exaggerated way. It wasn’t the most successful impro that I’ve ever done that’s for sure, but this particular young lady entranced me from the moment that I set eyes upon her. After class, as was the norm, the regular in-crowd of Desmond’s class would go to the pub at the end of Floral Street in Covent Garden for drinkies and a chat. Barbie (or Barbara as she was then) and I got to talking and I fell head over heels with her beauty, her humour, her intelligence and everything else about her in an instant. We adjourned later to my nearby flat in Holborn and spent the entire night just talking and sharing. That was it! Hook, line and sinker!
I am sure you are aware that this is a, Barbie Wilde is amazing site, however, are there any secrets or embarrassing stories that you can tell us about Barbie?
Yes, I am aware that this is a ‘Barbie Wilde Is Amazing’ site, and it’s wonderful to be asked to contribute to it! BUT- C’mon! Do you honestly think that if I had any secrets or embarrassing stories about Barbie that I would share them in any way with anybody? Hah! Dream on!
During this time, you found yourself immersed in the whole ’80’s music scene, as a young teenager living in a rather backwards town during this period, was the scene as wild and crazy as I imagined it to be?
Yes it was. You have to imagine that Barbie and I had gone from this sedate and mostly silent world of traditional mime (with some, but not much success) into a new milieu of night clubs and hedonistic socializing. We’d both become secretly bored with the limitations of mime as a silent art form and we harboured desires for glamour, glitz, lights and very cool and very loud music and an audience that was excited and enthusiastic. We got our wish through a chance meeting with London Legend Robert Pereno, who asked the two of us if we’d like to join this strange little disco dance combo that he had put together named Shock. We jumped at the chance and almost before we knew it we were thrust headfirst into the twilight world of London nightlife. The addition of mime based movement into what had, up until then, just been a kind of disco inferno was very new and very different. It was very exciting believe me, and everyone went crazy for it! Around 1980 -early ’81 Shock were caught in a strange kind of dichotomy, whereby one night we’d be performing to debutantes and film stars at clubs like The Alley and Dai Llewellyn’s Wedgies, where everyone looked and sounded like they’d just walked out of a club scene from a Jackie Collins novel, and the next we’d be working at The Blitz or The Embassy Club. So we saw excess from two extreme viewpoints. And it was excess believe me! We suddenly found ourselves at the vanguard of the whole New Romantic movement, and when Gary Numan asked Shock to be his support act for three nights at Wembley Arena in April ’81 after we’d just come back from a 12 night residency in New York at the Ritz Club we went off like a rocket! And then of course there’s the whole Tik & Tok venture too. It was great to be half of a duo, I loved the other members of Shock greatly but when every idea has to be put through 5 other people, managers, record Producers etc it can become a bit frustrating. Sean (Tok) and I had a natural empathy, a shared love of mischevious adventure and the same sense of humour. We became totally self sufficient and lived in our own little bubble for nearly four years.
Are you a fan of the 80’s, what do you listen to for your own pleasure?
Am I a fan of the ’80s? Well, I have to say that all of the music that came out in the first half of that decade is still to my mind amongst the most joyous, refreshing, creative and adventurous ever. I feel now that ‘Pop’ music has become anodyne and driven by business not genuine creativity. But back in the ’80s, you had bands like Ultravox, Kraftwerk, Japan, Numan, Adam Ant, Human League, Culture Club, Soft Cell, Bauhaus, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The The, Associates, The Cure, ABC etc, etc all giving the world their own unique take on ‘Pop’ and it all did enhance the face of music and indeed fashion too for a while. Of course Pop Music will never really have the ability to change society in any major way, that’s not its purpose, but back then it made a huge number of people happy and gave voice to a great many people’s hitherto unexpressed individuality. Oh God, am I sounding like some social commentator here? Sorry, but you did ask! My musical tastes these days are very eclectic, I no longer have an interest in seeking out the new, cool and groovy, rather I tend to rely on good friends with good taste who will compile things for me that they think I’d enjoy. Mostly they’re right!
You describe Shock as a rock/mime/burlesque/music troupe, that’s some mix, how much of what Shock did would you say was a reflection of what else was going on, and do you think if Shock was to start up now they would have the same level of success?
Blimey! I think that Shock definitely stole from everything that we liked and put it into this strange melting pot called our act. We most definitely wanted to fuse theatre with dance, mime and cabaret and I think that we did that well. I mean, our choice of music was pretty diverse too. For example at our Wembley shows with Numan, our set contained tracks by – Robert Palmer ,Georgio Moroder, Landscape, Wilson Pickett, Visage, Kate Bush, Tomita,Talking Heads, Cabaret Voltaire and some of our own music. Whether we reflected what else was going on socially I can’t really say.We were most definitely apolitical, we were there to entertain pure and simple. But I’d say that we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. How much was by accident and how much was by design I don’t know. We certainly met a lot of movers and shakers in the whole New Romantic scene like Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Richard Burgess etc who quite possibly saw us as a kind of ‘House Band’ for a short while. But that whole scene was not about longevity, it was about making your statement this week and whatever happens after that – who cares!
If Shock were to start up now? Hmm, well, as I say, back then we were definitely linked to a vibrant new movement that encompassed music, image, art and fashion, and to be honest I don’t see (or am not aware of) anything remotely similar happening now. Which is sad. I think youth needs a banner and a group voice to express itself. But of course now we have You Tube and FaceBook and everything ever created is right there in front of our eyes, so maybe people no longer have the same need to club together and create a scene like they used to? If Shock were active now we’d probably be doing strange and enchanting performances in underground clubs to a small but appreciative audience somewhere in the East End maybe.Or Eastern Europe knowing our luck!
And on a similar note, do you think the music and arts scene of the 80’s could happen again?
Well, I think that I might have just answered that in the above question. I’d like to think that it possibly could, but I have a feeling that if indeed it did it might not originate from England….
You are an award winning photographer, do you have any tips for a snapper like myself?
Don’t give up your day job! No seriously, if you feel that you have a good eye for capturing certain things then you should pursue that, regardless of technique or equipment. It’s about the moment, the light, the configuration of things not the amount of expensive gear in your bag. These days you can take a great quality photo on your smart phone, and that coupled with some of the tools that Photoshop has to offer, means you have much more mobility and flexibility when you’re out and about. It’s never about the technique really, it’s about the eye and the imagination. My personal breakthrough in photography came when I learned to see the print as a starting point and not as the end result. To be able to distress, manipulate and pervert that image into something more like a painting was a revelation for me. I do not pretend in any way to be an innovator but I found my way to a style of creating an image that worked for me personally. And this was done years before I was led to Photoshop. Everything was done by hand, using sandpaper, varnish, inks glazes etc until I was happy that it did not look like ‘A Photograph’! On FaceBook there is a group page run by a friend of mine, the photographer David Levine. It’s called The Dining Room Gallery. You just join up (free) and you can display your pictures and get constructive comments from fellow members. I’d recommend it!
What are the main elements of your kit? And what’s the one piece of kit you couldn’t live without?
I don’t really take so many photographs these days to be honest. I’m now much more interested in marketing what I’ve already created. And in much the same way that I feel about making new music I think that I’ve said everything that I need to say in that medium. If I go out and about I just take a pocket sized Canon PowerShot SX200IS with me. It does everything I need in an impromptu way. 12 megapixels is enough for anyone if truth be known!
You come across as a bit of an extrovert, yet I’ve always thought of photography as a much more introverted form of expression, would you agree? And if so do you see photography a ying to your more extrovert yang?
I don’t really see myself as an extrovert, more of an ‘Xtro’-vert! Ha, ha but we’ll get to that movie shortly… I always was very shy and quite socially inept when I was a young lad, I think it’s partly to do with being an only child. I never found that I fitted in with other people too well, it was only when Tik & Tok took off in 1980 – ’84 that I found the confidence I’d lacked earlier.And later on, leaving music and mime behind and moving into acting gave me the ability to sell myself at auditions and I found that somehow I’d made it a permanent part of my character. And if you’re working as a photographer you’ve got to have charm, patience and a great sense of humour when you’re taking people’s portraits. Obviously being a photographer (unless you’re a Bailey or a Donovan or a Duffy) isn’t particularly glamorous when you’re scrabbling around for work and especially when only a few years earlier you were performing to 3,000 excitable fans. But you’ve still got to sell yourself and that’s where the acting/performance experience was very useful for me personally. But you’ll still usually find me in the kitchen at parties! I’d say that writing is Ying and performance is Yang, but they’re just words to describe my somewhat schizophrenic character!
Not content with finding fame with music, dance and photography, you have also found fame as an actor / TV presenter. What was your big break?
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a ‘Big Break’ to be honest, I’m still waiting! But obviously being featured in ‘Star Wars – Episode VI’ put me on the map, especially these days, in terms of being a guest at Autograph Conventions. But it’s always slightly puzzled me why being in that movie didn’t lead on to other similar parts. Oh, I know – Tik & Tok wanted to be electro Pop Stars! So we pursued that road rather than marketing ourselves as ‘Creature Feature’ people. Mind you, I don’t know if I’d be too happy if I’d spent the last thirty years in a variety of rubber suits! Sean and I did go up for playing Aliens in ‘Aliens’, they wanted us but then the movie was shelved for quite a while and by then we’d moved on. We wanted to make our own movies! The ‘Big Break’ would be if I got a regular part in a TV series or a visible role (no mask!) in a major movie. Who knows? Either of them could happen tomorrow couldn’t they?
You appeared in a huge amount of TV adverts, how often does someone recognise you on the streets?
Well, I haven’t done any Commercials for quite a while now, but from 1987 to 2003 I did over 90 of them. I guess that the one that made me most recognisable to the UK public was for ‘After 8 Mints’. They showed that every Christmas for about five years. So, yes, people would constantly point at you or come up and ask you, which is kind of fun. But there’s always a little part of you that would prefer to be recognized for playing Hamlet or having your song or book at No.1! Actually,I loved doing Commercials, the good ones – Smirnoff, Trebor Xtra Strong Mints, Guinness Enigma and some very weird European ones were like little three minute movies with the same production values.
I think Channel 4’s Feast is the one thing that I recognise you from, how did you get involved with it?
Ah ‘Feast’! I have some very good memories of that show! And if people say: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” I declaim:”WRONG!” If you’re presenting a food and drink series wherein you have to partake of several meals in some wonderful European restaurants and you’re being paid well then that lunch is most definitely free!
In 1995 I was making some wonderful poetic Techno Pop music with the very talented Georg Kajanus, who was the lead singer and songwriter for the band Sailor back in the mid ’70s – ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and ‘A Glass Of Champagne’. Who by that time was now in a relationship with Barbie Wilde! I’d got to know Georg pretty well, since he and Barbie and my ex-wife and I would socialize a lot together and I kept asking him if he’d be up for the two of us writing a song for The Eurovision Song Contest’, as we were both unashamed fans of that yearly Cheese Fest but he’d always tactfully decline. I hadn’t been involved in creating any music for just under ten years and I was itching to work with Georg as I think that he’s a genius and why not give it a shot?. Anyway, one day he said yes and we started creating some quirky Euro Pop together in his home studio in West London. Look, this could end up being a very long answer to a very short question, so I’m going to whisk it along a bit if that’s ok? We call ourselves Noir – write a very catchy song called ‘Walking’ – get a Manager who puts us on to a small German Record Label – they want ‘Walking’ as a single – they pay £25,000 to make a video in Munich – it gets shown on ‘TOTP 2’ – food and drink TV Director David Pritchard sees it and thinks that these two guys in black suits would be brilliantly quirky and humorous enough to present this new series he’s planning. We audition and get the job. They ask us to also write the title music for the show (now called ‘Feast’). Channel 4 fly us and a crew out to Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Hamburg to eat and drink as much as is humanly possible in four episodes of the show. Then they asked to do all the links for every show too. BEST JOB EVER!
How well do you think it was received?
Ha! Well, at the launch party in a swanky Notting Hill restaurant the pilot episode was very well received by those of the press there to watch it (maybe the copious free drinkies and designer nibbles might have helped!) but when the rest of the shows were aired over six weeks some of the press reviews were somewhat scathing, not just about Noir I hasten to add (although we got our fair share of cheap comments along the lines of ‘Blues Brothers’ copyists. Oh yeah?), but overall the content of the show was deemed to be just a bit too ‘Avant’ for viewers who really just want to see some over-excitable or rudely arrogant Celeb Chef banging out some impossibly complex dish for the whole show! So they chose the easy target and dropped us! Bastards! There goes the free lunch!
On the theme of food, if you could host a dinner party, and invite anyone from anytime in history, real or fictitious, who would you invite, and why?
Oh hell, that’s a difficult one! Erm, off the top of my head I’d opt for Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Bill Bryson, Albert Einstein, Groucho Marx, Douglas Adams, Kate Bush, Buddha, Hannibal Lecter,Carl Jung, David Bowie (from the ’70s), Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum. Ask me tomorrow and you’ll probably get a different answer!
And what would you serve?
Well, I don’t cook to be honest so I’d get my good friend Camilla and her cohorts to cater the event. She’s the best cook I’ve ever known!
You played the monster in Xtro, how gruelling was the filming? You must have spent hours in make up?
Oh, don’t get me started! It wasn’t make-up, it was a prosthetic rubber suit. Originally the Director and Producers wanted Sean (Tok) to be the Alien and me to be the Action Man who comes to life and murders the old lady with a bayonet. So I gaily said that it would look really cool and strange if the Alien was on all fours but in a backwards crab position, to avoid that corny old ‘Upright Man In A Rubber Suit On Two Legs’ schtick. They said that was a great idea but then they say a short while later that now they want me as the Alien and Sean as the Action Man! Bugger! I had to have my whole body cast in plaster in the backwards crab position in an SFX studio in London. When the plaster goes off (which it does pretty quickly) it gets hot and then becomes rock solid and very heavy and therefore pretty unpleasant. They then later sculpted the suit out of heavy duty rubber that fitted me like a second skin, but only when I was in the crab position. It velcro’d up the back (which was actually my underbelly) so at least I could get in and out fairly easily. But it was the head that was the worst. It fitted really tightly but of course it had to go on backwards, so once it was on I couldn’t see where I was going only where I’d been. To this day I can still recall the horrible smell of the rubber, the talcum powder and the fear of not being able to breathe properly. The last shot of the movie for me was my emergence from a pool of water in the middle of this wood in Buckinghamshire. All the exteriors with me were filmed at night in the middle of March and it was seriously cold believe me! And of course once you were in the suit you just carried on getting more and more chilled. They told me to get under the water so that my head was completely submerged.It was the most disgusting feeling when the water started to pour in through the mouth and nose holes and I couldn’t see or hear anything! Very dangerous too and I told the Director that I am only doing this once and so you’d better get it right first time! He wasn’t happy but nor was I. They were most definitely NOT paying me enough!
How helpful do you think your training in mime was, in portraying the monster?
Vital! No normal human being could contort themselves for hours like that without risk of permanent injury!
Why did you go for the part? And what did you have to do for the audition?
Tik & Tok were doing twice a week Robotic cabaret in a London cocktail bar called ‘Coconut Grove’, and one night the ‘Xtro’ Producers were there knocking back some exotic drinks, saw our act and realized that the two of us would be ideal for those two roles in the movie. So we didn’t actually have to audition as they’d already seen what we could do. They pretty much offered us the roles on the spot. Which is somewhat unusual. We didn’t have an agent at the time so they probably got us far too cheaply!
How proud are you of the movie?
I wouldn’t say I’m exactly proud of the movie to be honest. I think with a bigger budget, a better script and a more experienced Director it could have been something quite special. But it is of its time, and I think that part of its charm (if that’s the right word) is that the effects and what Sean and I did was created for real in camera, whereas nowadays it would all be CGI and slick and very fast cut. I wish now that I’d had more mobility in the suit because I could have made the creature much more powerful in its movements and therefore truly terrifying. But I would say that ‘Xtro’ is a hell of a lot better than the two sequels that followed, they were truly dire!
You also had parts in another well loved Science fiction franchise, again hidden by layers of special effects make up. Did you ever feel the slightest bit miffed of by this?
No, not at all! ‘Revenge Of The Jedi’ was the first movie that I’d ever worked on. My mime training got me the job and I knew that I could do what was required of me. I had no problems at all with being disguised beneath layers of costume, after all, costumes, masks and make up had been part of my act for six years already. But you have to remember that I filmed ‘Xtro’ only a few weeks after I’d finished on ‘Jedi’, so I went from full-on major movie production and budget into a British B movie with none of the care and professionalism that we experienced as part of the ‘Star Wars’ universe. I was miffed about that certainly! My costume as ‘J’Quille – Whiphid’ was hot, heavy and cumbersome to say the least, but each of us featured performers were assigned a personal assistant to take care of our needs on and off set in a practical and safe way. On the other side of the coin the costume for me as one of the ‘Mon Calamari Officers’ a few weeks later was a joy to wear. It was comfortable, flexible and the head was made of a very lightweight foam latex, so breathing and vision were not problematic. I had a truly great time being part of the whole ‘Jedi’ experience.
Was it a dream come true for you to be part of the Star Wars universe?
Yes, absolutely! When I saw the first movie back in ’77 I had no notion at all that I could possibly end up in the second sequel. How wonderful! I wasn’t a rabid ‘SW’ fan but I was totally in awe of what George Lucas had created and still am to this day.
I’ve always wondered about films like this, how much do the “Big Names” mix with the supporting actors?
Hardly at all to be honest. But why should they? They’ve got characters to develop, dialogue to learn and camera moves to rehearse, so they’re not going to be hanging out in the canteen or the bar with the likes of us are they! Having said that, Sean and I got on well with Mark Hamill as he was closest to our ages and was a young movie star on the loose in London with money in his pocket. We directed him towards a couple of night clubs that we thought he’d like. He came back on set the next day with a mischevious glint in his eye!
Did you manage to acquire any mementos from the set?
Yes, I smuggled Carrie Fisher back to my flat! No, I wish…
You regularly take part in conventions. I’ve never been to one, what are they like?
Have you seen the films ‘Galaxy Quest’ and ‘Paul’? They’ll give you some inkling of what it’s like. The biggest one that I’ve taken part in to date was ‘Celebration IV’ in Los Angeles in 2007. This was the world’s biggest ‘Star Wars’ show ever, they estimated that somewhere in the region of 30,000 fans came through the doors over the duration of the event. That is one hell of a lot of people believe me! And there you are, sat behind your table with all your pictures stacked up to be signed, watching this endless parade of people coming past, a large amount of whom are in costume. Intense! But everyone is so very friendly and it’s nice to meet people who have a harmless passion in their lives.
But all of this stuff and much more is in my forthcoming book:”Continuum – The ‘Star Wars Phenomenon As Experienced From The Inside”. Which is due out as an ebook/Kindle etc in the next few weeks. So stay tuned!
What has been the strangest request you have had from a fan?
Let’s just say that some of the fans of Tik & Tok back in the ’80s were a lot more adventurous…! Hey, I can do discreet you know!
You also write, was this something you had always done throughout your career?
I’ve always written poems and scraps of ideas for things in various notebooks since I was a young boy. I also wrote all the lyrics for the Tik & Tok songs, most of the lyrics for the Noir project and all of the lyrics for my last musical venture TIMANDMO. I got A grades in English and English Literature at Grammar School, and I guess that if I hadn’t have gone down the Art School route I might well have ended up doing Literature at University somewhere. I wrote a stage play back in 1990 which I never got around to performing sadly. But yes, the written word has pretty much always been a part of my creativity.More so today than ever before
How would you describe your writing style?
Vivid, well-observed, descriptive,humorous, surreal and I hope grammatically correct!
Do you have a favourite author, and what is it about them that you admire?
Oh gawd, another tricky one! That’s like asking what’s your favourite Bowie song or your favourite movie. Ok, today’s choices are: Rupert Thomson, David Sedaris, Colin Wilson, Clive Barker, Bill Bryson, Barbie Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Michael Moorcock, Sarah Pinborough, Phillip Jose Farmer, Christopher Isherwood, Ian McKewan and Stephen King. I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies too. What do I admire about them? I guess how they connect with my brain and my imagination. But that’s like asking what do I like about cheese or strawberries! Some things just work and others do not. For instance, I’ve never really connected well with Will Self or Martin Amis, it’s no fault in their obviously skilled writing just that it doesn’t work for me.
What prompted you to write your autobiography, and would you say the title is an apt description of your life?
Are you talking about ‘Falling Upwards – Scenes From A Life’ by Tim Dry? Yes, of course you are! Ten years ago (was it that long ago already? Jeez!) I was coming up to my 50th birthday and as a fair amount of people had suggested over the years that I should write the main ingredients of my fairly interesting life down, I decided to grab the bull by the horns (or the mouse by the hand) and do it. I originally started writing an autobiographical account of what it’s like being a performer in the wacky world of TV Commercials, but that wouldn’t have stretched to a book of any substantial length. Then I started recalling my odd little life moments, formative years, a degree of success in music and performance and I realized that all of this stuff is now history and therefore quite possibly of interest to people who may not know me. It came together fairly quickly I guess, after all I’m only recounting events in my own life, not creating the narrative arc of a work of fiction. And it’s true what they say – write about what you know. Well, who knows more about me than me after all? When fish die they float upwards to the surface, it’s their way of falling. I like that. And it seemed an apt summation of a life that does contain highs and lows but also a constant sense of movement.
And can you explain the bit about the UFO?
Not here I’m afraid. You’ll have to read ‘Falling Upwards’ for that one. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t a cloud-parting, ‘Spielbergian’ event but something much more up close and personal and totally and utterly unexpected. I was only nine years old.
You describe as yourself as “someone old enough to know better but young enough not to care”. I like that outlook on life. Do you ever think you will be old enough to care?
Yes, it’s a good little phrase isn’t it! Obviously I care deeply about a great many things and most certainly about those that I love, but in this context it’s about not caring what people might think about me or my actions because I have the freedom to make new choices without fear or need for sensible restraint because of my age, background or whatever. Does that make any sense? It’s a kind of self-explanatory statement really don’t you think? I’m 60 years old now and I still believe in that statement and I see no reason to change it for as long as I might live.So there!
You are also writing a series of novellas, can you tell the readers what they re about? Are these a series of collected stories, or are they all stand alone tales?
‘Ricochet. Episode 1’ (to give the book its title!) is not a conventional story with an A to Z arc. It’s a randomly collected series of strange events (fictional) or dreams that may or may not be connected. Most of them are only a few paragraphs in length.The tag line is: ‘Reality Is Just A Fragment Of Your Imagination’. When the universe blinks shut, just for a second, and then reopens things are going to be somewhat….different. Does anyone really know what’s true and what isn’t these days? The attention span of the human consciousness has shortened dramatically over the last two decades.I suppose you could say that it has a kind of Burroughsian sense of cut up about it in the respect that you could rearrange each segment in a different order and it would still make as much (or as little) sense! It’s a random universe that we live in, strange and inexplicable things happen every day, everywhere and I’m just the curator!
It’s my first steps into writing fiction having previously written two books about actual events in my life, and I’m dipping my toes into new waters. I know that, at present, I am not capable of writing what is deemed to be a full length,conventional novel, but then again why should I have to? This is a graphic novel without any pictures. You’ll formulate those in your own head. That excites me.
Who would you say the book is aimed at?
At a hopeful guess I’d say people who enjoy flash fiction, steampunk, ‘Diamond Dogs’, JG Ballard, short and weird tales, Nic Roeg, Guy Ritchie and Tarantino movies, Phillip K Dick and Gary Numan’s early lyrics. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Moorcock and Burroughs fans. And people who have a fear and loathing of clowns!
You have had an extremely varied career, would you put this down to your low threshold for boredom?
God,you’re asking profound questions here, I thought it was going to be an ‘Xtro’, ‘Star Wars’, music and writing Question Fest! Actually, I’m loving answering them all, I just hope that I haven’t bored the arse of your readers by now! Anyway in answer – quite possibly in some cases. Some doors I managed to stupidly shut myself because of a pig-headed and naive belief in what I felt that I should be doing, when in retrospect it was pretty obvious that I was wrong. Other doors shut on their own behalf as is the way of things. But I know that Tik & Tok made a deliberate and right decision to split up at the end of 1984 because we did not want to be doomed to be constantly replaying our Robotic act on TV variety shows for the next twenty years. A lot of it comes down to luck. Now, whether that is something that we create for ourselves is a deep philosophical question to which I have no answer as yet. I would certainly say that my low threshold for boredom has caused me to lose a few good relationships with the opposite sex that I could have sustained if I’d made the effort.
Looking back at your career, is there anything that you are embarrassed about? Or anything that you would do differently?
How long have you got? Actually it’s a ‘Yes, of course!’ answer to both questions. Naturally, we all make mistakes in our lives, that’s part of growing up. But if I started to define various things here like this it gives them an importance that I don’t feel to be relevant any longer.I’ve made it this far so I can’t really complain can I?
Are there any up and coming projects that you can tell us about?
I’m currently writing a short fantasy story that I really hope that Johnny Mains will include in his upcoming anthology ‘The Year’.
‘Ricochet – Episode 1’ will be completed in the next month or so. And then on sale as a Kindle /ebook etc.
‘Continuum’ is due out in the next few weeks as an ebook/Kindle.
‘Falling Upwards’ is still available to download as a PDF ebook from LuLu.com
All of Tik & Tok’s music (including their 2007 ‘Comeback’ album ‘Dream Orphans’) is still available to order from
And TIMANDMO’s positive and uplifting music is available to buy as the ‘Happy Accidents’ album on iTunes, Amazon etc.
I’m possibly curating a future exhibition of self-portraits at Gallery 286 in London later this year.
Tim, it’s been great having you over for a chat, do you have any last words for the readers and your fans?
Phew, it’s been exhausting! Hope it makes enjoyable reading for you all. Stay strong and keep positive. Life is full of surprises. T xx
You can find out more about the fascinating Tim by checking out his website here :-