Manchester Evening News - GO24

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004

Guitarist Tim's on the write track - but without any words

TIM SCOTT: “I get confused by words. I never listen to the lyrics of songs and have no idea what they are going on about”

Stockport's Tim Scott is one of the most talented electric guitarists of his generation. His debut album, Bald On The Inside, drew rave reviews and prompted comparisons with such American plank-spanking giants as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. So why is he busking in a bookstore near you? PAUL TAYLOR explains.

WHEN Tim Scott tells you he “sees” his music as colours, he is not just using a figure of speech.

“There are chords which I say 'That's a certain colour’,” he explains. “Music does conjure something visual for me.”

Words, on the other hand, tend to slip away from him. For Tim, aged 32, has mastered his music only while battling with severe dyslexia. Despite being a graduate of London's prestigious Guitar Institute, he still has problems with musical notation, just as he has always struggled with the written word. “I found reading music very hard,” he says. “I understand music, but it is as though I can't see it. I can't feed it through the brain to the fingers fast enough.”

Now he has another battle on his hands - to gain acceptance from a music industry more interested in quick hits and pretty young things than musical excellence.

He has written, played, recorded, produced, packaged and even distributed his debut album, Bald On The Inside, from a home studio in the converted dining room of his Hazel Grove home.

He has also marketed the disc through Borders bookshops, where he gives promotional performances - a kind of indoors busking to generate CD sales.

His music - rock instrumentals tinged with jazz, blues, Latin and classical influences - has seen him hailed in guitar magazines as a world-class talent, and one of his pieces is set to be included on the CD accompanying the July edition of Guitarist magazine. But, as yet, he is without a proper record deal.

“It has got to be an instant hit which they can fly around the world with a video... or nothing at all,” Tim glumly remarks of the music business. Inspired by the likes of Toto, Yes and Van Halen, Tim cut his teeth on guitar as a teenager. But at the same time, his dyslexia meant he struggled his way through Hazel Grove High School.

“Stockport education authority did not recognise it at the time as a disability, so I did not really get any help through school, apart from some of my English teachers giving me extra classes after school out of the kindness of their hearts,” says Tim. “That helped me get four or five GCSE passes.”

He went on to Salford College of Music but “dropped out before I got kicked out. I could not cope with the written work. I find it difficult even to hold down an ordinary job. I lost jobs in shops because I could not do my ABCs.”

Tim worked in bars, played in covers bands then, in 1992, went to the Guitar Institute. He won a diploma after 12 months, but the dyslexia hampered his chances of returning for further studies.

“I had a breakdown and was ill for two or three years,” says Tim. “Out of that, I kept playing guitar and ended up setting up a teaching business. I got that to a good level and then invested the money in making the record.”

Amid all the dextrous guitar work, other sounds used on the album include that of a domestic egg slicer, a human heartbeat, whirring fridge and revving motorcycles. But these are songs without words.

“The reason I do instrumental music is that words do not mean a lot to me,” says Tim. “I get confused by words. I never listen to the lyrics of songs and have no idea what they are going on about, and when I try to write songs with people, it is as if someone turns off the creative tap.”

Tim performs at Borders book store, Peel Retail Park, Great Portwood Street, Stockport, on Friday at 7pm and The Late Room, Peter Street Manchester, on Saturday, July 17. Bald On The Inside is available through Borders stores.

Paul Taylor