Wonderlick just released their second album, Topless at the Arco Arena, a concept album that dives headfirst into the timeless art versus commerce debates. Here’s an edited version of a conversation I had with Tim Quirk over email.
Tim Quirk and Jay Blumenfield have been playing for decades. They were ahead of their time in their band Too Much Joy, and today it seems that we’ve finally caught up with them.
We spoke with Wonderlick about their second album “Topless at the Arco Arena” and what is going on in their lives.
I’ve been a fan of Tim Quirk’s music for 20 years – easy. The playful melancholy in his songwriting continually resonates with me.
Tim Quirk and Jay Blumenfield are both super nice guys and agreed to this interview, where we talk about music, books, copyright and taco night.
“We weren’t thinking what it would sound like on radio, or what fans of the old band would think,” says Tim Quirk of his band’s self-titled debut album. “It was just, ‘Let’s get in the studio and have some fun.’”
Breaking into the mainstream was the last thing on Wonderlick’s minds when they began offering free MP3s on their Web site in 2001. But two years and thousands of downloads later, their music has found its way into everything from MTV and HBO specials to the grooves of a full-length CD.
In one 24-hour period last year, Tim Quirk made more money from his recordings than he earned in 12 years fronting the revered underground act Too Much Joy.
I’m a big fan of Too Much Joy. A band from the very early 90’s. They were witty, funny, and always touching. They never let a joke get in the way of a real idea. They had a great original sound, a very pop Clash, that always had this fierce intelligence. I went from fan to kinda sorta friends with the guys in the band.
Topless at the Arco Arena
When I was preparing for the interview with Wonderlick, I loaded up my iPod with all the Wonderlick stuff I had — including the rough mixes for this album they posted — and basically the rest of space on there was loaded up with Too Much Joy, Tim & Jay’s first band.
It’s great when old friends come to visit. Times change, everyone evolves, but the same commonality that bound you in the first place holds firm, and your divergent paths feel intertwined. The new Wonderlick album feels like a long overdue visit from an old friend.
In this reviewer’s perfect world, everyone would own and absolutely love at least one Too Much Joy album. It wouldn’t even have to be my own favorite, Cereal Killers, because as separate discs, everything from Green Eggs and Crack and Son of Sam I Am to Mutiny and . . . Finally has its own merits.
You’ll find little mention of musical history in Wonderlick’s record company biography, which is a little puzzling since Tim Quirk and Jay Blumenfeld’s collective resume is damn impressive.
East Bay Express review (4/17/02)
“Taking the piss” ain’t easy, unless you’re English. But if the US ever needed to airlift someone to the frontlines of music’s battle of wits, Tim Quirk would be an ideal leader — in some ways, he already is.