Th’ Losin Streaks are loud fun and have lived up to its name the last several years. For every hurdle that has come their way they find a way to turn it into an opportunity. The group even found a huge fan in the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt. This week, Th’ Losin Streaks shared a new video for “Time Has Come,” animated by the band bassist, Stan Tindall.
Courtesy Slovenly Recordings
Tim Foster founded Th’ Losin Streaks in the early 2000s, and brings us up to speed on the past few years in a conversation with Hey Listen! host Nick Brunner..
Tim Foster: The Streaks started out as my project. I wrote all the original songs, picked all the covers and hand-picked every band member. I really loved the approach of this very raw British band called Thee Headcoats — stripped-down punk rhythm and blues — so that was kind of the ideal I was going for initially. But as we played together, the other guys started bringing in really good ideas, and before long we were splitting the songwriting three ways, so it started to sound like a different thing. You can really hear that difference between our first record and the new album. Also, our original drummer Matt retired in 2018 so that has been a change, too. Luckily our new drummer Brian was one of Matt's biggest influences when he was a kid, so I think we still have the same basic vibe.
Nick Brunner: How long have you been a musician?
TF: I started playing harmonica 25-30 years ago and picked up a guitar shortly after that — but I wasn't really a 'musician' per se — for years I just did the absolute bare necessity in the service of a live show with the band ... if you had asked me to perform a song solo, I couldn't have done it at all. Then around 2000 I really started practicing and trying to understand what I was doing a little bit. I'm still not much of a guitarist, technically, but I've gotten good at making sounds I like.
NB: What did you listen to growing up (music or otherwise) and how did it influence your art?
TF: My parents loved Hank Williams, Fats Domino, Nat "King" Cole and classic big band like Harry James and Glenn Miller, so that stuff is in my DNA. I love it. My siblings were into The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, so I grew up on that too, but I didn't get into music heavily until my late teens.
I really got obsessed with music when I discovered "garage punk" — the records made by the teen garage bands in the mid sixties ... They had all the energy of punk rock, but with all the limitations of trying to make that aesthetic work in 1965 or 66. There were thousands of these bands, with names like The Sonics, The One Way Streets, The Stoics ... I found a collection of '60s garage band recordings one day in 1987 and I was gone — it literally changed my life when the needle hit that record. Everything I've ever done musically really springs from hearing those recordings for the first time.
NB: Does your art fully support you? If not what else do you do to survive?
TF: Ha! No ... I have always had a day job. I worked as a commercial artist for a long time, but these days I run a public affairs journalism nonprofit in Sacramento.
NB: Tell me about one of the biggest struggles/triumphs you've faced recently.
TF: The biggest recent struggle for the band has been the loss of our tour, and all the other shows this year. We were slated to do a full European tour in May. We had a bunch of festivals lined up, including our first-ever shows in the UK. Our record label planned to reissue our first album to coincide with the tour, so we were going to have two albums to take with us. We'd been working on the planning for nearly a year ... and suddenly it was just gone. In the grand scheme of things it's nothing compared to people getting sick or losing their jobs, but still, it hurt. Playing shows is the best part of being in a band, and we don't have any idea when — or if — that's going to happen again. That's been hard.
NB: What's the best (or worst) advice you've ever received?
TF: It wasn't exactly advice, but the best "training" I ever got was watching this band called "The Mummies" back in the early '90s. These guys played every show dressed in full, filthy, mummy costumes, drove around in a 1965 Pontiac ambulance with "THE MUMMIES" painted in giant letters on the side, and basically destroyed every stage they set foot on. They played sixties-inspired songs and used all-vintage gear, but they weren't some retro "nostalgia" act — they insulted each other, fought with the audience, and abused their equipment so badly that it often broke mid-song. They weren't loud compared to most bands of the time, but there was more sheer power coming off the stage when they played than anything I've seen before or since. They were all incredible musicians, but they never let that get in the way of the performance. Even if the audiences (and sound guys) weren't always on board, there was never any question who owned that stage while they were up there, a lesson I always take to heart whenever we play.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the "play" button above to hear more of the conversation with Tim Foster