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Tim Esau

Bass Guitar & Bass Pedals

IQ&A - Tim Esau

First single bought:

I’m not sure of the exact time when the transition was made from my parents buying me stuff to actually buying stuff myself. They often used to bribe me to go into Southampton shopping with them on a promise to buy me something, usually a 45 (RPM not Colt) from Woolies. So I had a few from the likes of Slade, Sparks, Suzy Quatro, Sweet, TRex, Queen etc. already in my modest collection.  

Around the time of my first ever job at a local nursery (plants, not children) I remember buying 'Silly Love Songs' By Wings, so that was more than likely one of the first I paid for with my own hard earned cash. It wasn’t even for the bass line, which is fabulous, back in those days (just before I started playing bass myself), I just loved the song for it’s jaunty tweeness.

First album bought:

Can’t exactly remember but…. I always got an LP for Christmas as a kid, the likes of ‘Slayed?’ – Slade (1972) and ‘Kimono My House’ – Sparks (1974).  I really think that my formative interests in music were given a massive boost by Sparks, particularly when I picked up their two early US ‘pre-UK success’ releases (produced by Todd Rundgren on the Bearsville label) a short time later.

Last album bought:

Hopefully I haven’t bought the last one yet! Can’t exactly remember the most recent because…. In these days of streaming it’s been so long since I actually ‘bought an album’ in the ‘old’ way.  It may well have been ‘We Like it Here’ by Snarky Puppy. I streamed loads of their stuff but for some reason bought this one.  I still prefer watching them live though - saw them a couple of years back - amazing!

Favourite album:

Depends very much on what I’m listening to at the time the question is asked and how much red wine has been consumed in the run up to that point.  I also think that my favourite albums are intrinsically tied to sentimental memories of the times and events that surrounded me when I first heard them. Around the time I passed my driving test (July 1979) and managed to buy an old rusty Ford Escort van (with a cassette player - whooop!) I listened to the few tapes I had over & over again, such as ‘Heavy Weather - Weather Report’, ‘Breakfast in America - Supertramp’, ‘After the Gold Rush - Neil Young’ and ‘Hejira - Joni Mitchell’ but above all, one by a band with whom I was obsessed at the time and remain a fanboy today - ‘The Tubes - Young and Rich’ (1976).

Favourite film:

Generally just Space, Sci Fi, fantasy stuff. So, Alien, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Shrek etc. etc. etc…  The Matrix though is a tough one to beat, I love that concept. I do like a good Western too and there’s quite a few on Netflix at the moment.  A favourite one recently was ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’, it’s got Tom Waits in it. Oooh Wait! another contender for favourite album - ‘Closing Time’ by Tom Waits.

Favourite book:

I don’t read a lot to be honest (I’m saving that for my retirement!). I only really get time to read novels in holiday time. Other than that, I spend a lot of time watching nerdy YouTube videos (I’m so down with the kids) and reading music tech stuff. Over the last few  summer holidays I have been working my way through the ‘Shardlake’ series by C J Sanson, just the last one to go I think. I enjoy that kind of thing as it’s fiction but intertwined with a nice chunk of factual history around the court of Henry Vlll. Techy wise, I recently read ‘Recording Unhinged’ by Silvia Massy - she’s great…. And bonkers!

Favourite IQ album:

I’m going to say ‘The Road of Bones’ for the reason that it’s so difficult to choose a favourite musically so I chose this one simply because it’s one I never expected to be part of, having left the band 25 years previously! Having said that, I do of course have the perspective of both being on some IQ albums and not on others. So, of those I’m not on… I think Subterranea is a fantastic body of work!  Well done chaps!

Favourite IQ song to perform:

Well, almost all of them I’d say but… it’s great performing the new stuff because it’s, well…… new. So my favourite is currently ‘Shallow Bay’. No wait … ‘Stay Down’. No wait… ‘For Another Lifetime’. No Wait… ‘A Missile’,  yes definitely ‘A Missile’ it’s a real toe-tapper! An honorary mention for ‘The Darkest Hour’ from the back catalogue though.

Favourite musician (your instrument):

I must admit I really do like to listen to and watch a lot of technically whizzy masters of bass guitar simply for their sheer ‘cleverness’ and individual techniques including playing way too many notes in too short a space of time in weird and wonderful ways. Mostly Jazz Rock stalwarts such as Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Jeff Berlin, Victor Wooten, Pino Palladino, Percy Jones and Michael League of the aforementioned Snarky Puppy etc. etc.
But if I narrow it down to favourite bass players from within the same general genre as the one inhabited by IQ, I would say that Mike Rutherford’s playing in early Genesis is very melodic and ‘classically’ supportive as is Ray Schulman’s of Gentle Giant.  Number one though is Tony Levin - the right notes, in the right quantity, in all the right places and he has that ‘bald head and Musicman 5 string bass’ look about him – he’s so cool - ahhhemmm!

First concert attended:

Richie Blackmores Rainbow, September 1976, Southampton Gaumont Theatre. I was 15.  Apparently Cozy Powell's car broke down on the way to this gig and he had to thumb a lift. I, on the other hand, just got the bus.

Last concert attended:

Imogen Heap, The Sage Gateshead.
I really like Imogen Heap and in particular her technical performance innovations (check out her MiMU gloves). However, at this gig I fell foul of the modern scourge of thinking I’d bagged us great seats near the front and centre only to be blasted by a very ‘drum heavy’ mix all night due to lack of decent PA distribution. I complained most sternly to myself!

Favourite city:

One of the slightly less groovy things about being in a band is that you get to go to a lot of cities but don’t always get to see much, if anything, of them. Despite having heard how wonderful they are, there just isn’t the time to explore.  One of the exceptions to this was Barcelona where I was able to arrive a day early and have a bit of a mooch about. I liked what I saw so later went back for the full experience, which was nice!  
So I’ll say Barcelona but I’m usually happier in the countryside!

Favourite biscuit:

I don’t think I’ve ever met an objectionable biscuit - from the humble Rich Tea to those, slightly self-important, individually foil wrapped ones in an assortment tin. Years of abuse however, has led to the need to take it easy on the biscuits these days but the odd dark chocolate Digestive does still go down a treat.

Are you any good at potato sculptures?

All my attempts at sculpture have ended up looking like potatoes - so I’d say “yes I am!” I was particularly pleased with the one I did of King Edward.

Do you empty your own hoover bag?

No - just other peoples. I collect dust.

Tech Corner

Basses - All strung with D’Addario EXL170 Nickel Wound Strings

  • Musicman Stingray 5 string Bass Guitar. Maple neck - main live bass
  • Musicman Stingray Classic 5 string Bass Guitar. Rosewood neck
  • Musicman Stingray 4 string Bass Guitar. Maple neck (1980 - pre-Ernie Ball)
  • Musicman Stingray 4 string fretless Bass Guitar. 20th Anniversary. Pau Ferro board
  • OLP Stingray 5 string fretless Bass Guitar. Rosewood neck. (Upgraded with John East Pre-amp and Nordstrand pick up).

Bass Pedals

  • Roland PK-5A Dynamic Midi Foot Controller
  • Moog Minitaur Analog Bass Synth Module
  • Palmer PAN04 Dual Passive DI box

Pedals - depending on the set

  • Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe - Pre-Amp
  • Keeley Bassist compressor
  • Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus
  • EBS Octabass
  • Digitech Hardwire DL-8 Delay/Looper
  • Boss TU-2 Chromatic tuner


  • Sennheiser ew 300 IEM G3 wireless system
  • Hearwave - Triple driver In Ear Monitors








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