Tim Smith (born 3 July 1961 in Carshalton, Surrey, England) is an English singer-songwriter, composer, poet, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and music video director.
In addition to singing, Smith plays electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, a variety of keyboards (including piano, synthesizer, mellotron and organ), flute, recorder and percussion.
Tim Smith maintains that the Cardiacs were never a punk, prog or pronk band but were a pop band 'who played psychedelia'.
Lyrical style and themes:
Smith's work often deals with the exploration of childhood or adolescent happy thoughts, fears and anxieties, the terror of war, paranoia, loneliness, pain, love, obsession, isolation, sexuality, satire on ways of living, the sins of religion and the ideal of a better world.
While expressing appreciation for such artists as XTC, Gong, Gentle Giant, early Genesis, and Frank Zappa, Smith's lyrical references include the work of George Darley, Charles Kingsley, William Blake, Pedro Carolino, William Shakespeare, Charles Laughton and David Lynch.
In 1975, Tim Smith played guitar in a nameless punky, psychedelic instrumental band with school friends Mark Cawthra (Drums) and David Philpot (Keyboard). Tim was taken aback by the sound of David's Korg synthesiser and would later use the sound early on in Cardiac Arrest/Cardiacs.
In 1979, Tim helped record a 7", A Bus for a Bus on the Bus, at Elephant Studios in London. He was later forced to look for a new vocalist and drummer after Mike Pugh, Ralph Cade and Peter Tagg left the band. He decided to take over the vocals himself and invited Mark Cawthra in to play drums. 1980 saw Tim recording the first and only Cardiac Arrest album, The Obvious Identity. Eventually, 1000 cassettes were recorded, but only sold at concerts to save on expenditure.
Tim decided to change the name of the band to Cardiacs in 1981. He helped record the band's first album, Toy World, in the same manner as the Cardiac Arrest album - on cassette tape - at a small basement studio known as Crow Studios (owned and run by Peter Kunzler). After another line up change, Tim recruited Tim Quy (Percussion), Sarah Cutts (Saxophone) and Dominic Luckman (Drums) into the fold.
In 1983, Tim saw William D. Drake performing on a piano in a public house and drafted him into the ranks of Cardiacs as keyboard player.
The low budget label Alphabet Business Concern was created in 1984. Tim was asked by vocalist Fish to support his band Marillion on their forthcoming tour near the end of the year. Tim agreed but was not prepared for the hostile audience that awaited them on all legs of the tour (forcing them off the final three days of the tour).
In 1985, Tim was approached by students Mark Francombe and Nick Elborough with an offer to shoot footage of them at one of their live concerts as part of their coursework project. The Surbiton Assembly Rooms was chosen and the gig was recorded on 18 April 1985, but Tim was unhappy with the resultant footage and sound quality and canned the project.
The students then assisted Tim with making a promotional video, produced and directed by Tim himself, which would include a 10-minute feature called "The Consultant's Flower Garden" and three music videos. The video was released.
During the 1990s, Tim took a break from Cardiacs to work on various other projects. During 1989 and 1991, he wrote songs for a solo album, Tim Smith's Extra Special OceanLandWorld, eventually released in 1995. He, estranged wife Sarah (now said to be practising as a white witch) and William D. Drake were reunited as The Sea Nymphs, a folkier, more ethereal and relaxed version of Cardiacs. The threesome had already recorded before in 1984 and released a cassette album, Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake. Tim also performed with ex-Cardiacs guitarist Bic Hayes in Panixsphere in 1993 (although no official recordings exist yet) and with Jo Spratley in Spratleys Japs from 1995. 1999 saw the release of the latest Cardiacs studio album, Guns, on the Alphabet label.
The 21st Century has seen Tim (with Cardiacs) release one single, "Ditzy Scene", in 2007. He has used most of the time again touring and working on new recording output for the near future. In March 2006, he toured with Ginger & The Sonic Circus as their support act, performing acoustic versions of Cardiacs songs, along with his own material.
On June 25, 2008, Tim Smith suffered a combined heart attack and stroke, and is currently in the process of recovering. As such, all plans for the new Cardiacs album and other future work have been postponed indefinitely. However, a tribute album was released in December 2010 on the website of The Genepool.
Work as producer, video director and label boss:
Smith owns and operates his own recording studio - Apollo 8, currently based near Salisbury, Wiltshire - and has a long list of production credits to his name.
Since the early nineties Smith has produced recordings for a variety of musicians and musical groups, many of whom belong to the so-called "Cardiacs family". These include Levitation, Sidi Bou Said, Eat, The Monsoon Bassoon, Wildhearts frontman Ginger (including his Silver Ginger 5 and Howling Willie Cunt projects), Stars In Battledress, Oceansize, William D. Drake, The Shrubbies, The Scaramanga Six and The Trudy.
Smith has created and/or edited pop videos for various bands including Sepultura, Dark Star and The Frank and Walters, as well as Cardiacs.
In 2008 Smith created a film called "The Wildhearts Live In The Studio: A Film By Tim Smith", featuring The Wildhearts playing their self-titled album along with surreal interludes.