a brief biography
“When I saw Pete Townshend on TV for the first time with his windmill beating, and what power was behind it, I knew: that was what I wanted to do,” says Timo Gross. And then there’s Eric Clapton, who inspires the teenager. He whispers to him from the television: Timo, your heart belongs to the blues and that’s exactly how you want to play the guitar. For him, blues has above all “depth and weight that I don’t hear in other things. Gross is nevertheless not a purist, rather a careful innovator, who breathes the blues into solid rock with well-placed accessories as well as vice versa.
He doesn’t dwell long on the question of genre boundaries. Blues is always when it sounds real. He sometimes calls it “blues-infected music”, if a pigeonhole has to be drawn. In it you’ll find heavy rocking next to Americana and classic swinging shuffle, pure blues next to Southern rock. Sometimes a metallic riff can slip in between or a song that sounds as if Keith Richards whispered it to the Palatine.
It took a while until Timo Gross was ready to realize his very personal idea of the blues. For 25 years he had played everything from country to hip hop and pop, produced a boy band, worked as a studio guitarist and composed advertising music.
That ended in 2005, when “Down To the Delta,” his first blues record, was released. He starts from scratch, first looking to see if there are any performance opportunities at all.
The renowned Blues News magazine chose his debut as album of the month, which opened many doors. It works – 100 gigs by the end of the year give him courage. England, Scotland, France are soon on the tour schedule, the big German blues festivals like Gaildorf and Lahnstein.
Timo Gross lets his music arise directly from a spontaneous feeling. . “I get up in the morning, drink a coffee, write down some thoughts to clear my head and most of the time, after 5 to 10 minutes, I start to get bored. And write a song.” Says he, and you believe it immediately. Blues feeds off the stories that life writes. Of which he has quite a few in store. “I try to keep an open mind. You can sit here at the table and look in the coffee cup, you’ll find something. Or I’ll sit there with someone telling me an interesting story. Anything can be the starting point for a song.” From the first album, he sings his songs himself.
One senses that no other than this raw voice, matured in the storms of life, can convincingly convey their blues stories.
Guitar show-offs are alien to him. “I’ve always been annoyed when people play ultra-long solos” he says. Gross’ solos are often more lurking. A theme is played around, danced around. Now and then the notes flutter out of the rhythm foundation completely free. The great tugging and plucking, the moments in which musicians and audience usually open their mouths wide, only occur after careful preparation.
Timo Gross has now recorded a dozen albums, including joint ventures with colleagues. Three of his works are nominated for the German Record Critics’ Award, “Fallen from Grace” (2012) finally gets it. In 2013 he releases “Landmarks”, a cover album that proves that he can also breathe his very own, unmistakable sound into foreign compositions. Business-wise, he increasingly earns the status of “independent artist” over the years: His 2016 album “Heavy Soul” is released for the first time on his own label Crand Cru Records, and he now designs the artwork himself. And it continues: Gross does not stand still – and pays homage to the songs of blues giant Huddie Ledbetter with his new band Leadbelly Calls together with Adax Dörsam. Tradition with a future.
Text by Thomas Zimmer
Timo Gross at Wikipedia: