Interview with The Polyphonic Spree


The tireless search for meaning.

For someone who does not enjoy the holiday festivities, it would seem inconceivable to travel to Dallas, Texas, to attend a Christmas festival. Children, bottargas, Christmas carols and chocolate chip cookies are a recipe for disaster, but if we add a secret ingredient it is worth the sacrifice.

For 20 years, Tim DeLaughterheart and soul of The Polyphonic Spree; has brought to life The Holiday Extravaganza, an event that celebrates Christmas, family and everything that revolves around the season. This is precisely the secret ingredient that I mention above: knowing Tim and chat with him while desperately searching for a Santa Claus who would be available that night.

The idea was to create a show so that children could come with their parents and both enjoy it, so we came up with a Christmas variety show. “No polish or anything like that, just a real celebration,” he said. Tim while hanging up the phone with a Santa Claus impersonator.

I’m stuck doing this Christmas show that’s great, but it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s not a very well-oiled machine with people behind the scenes, just Chris (Penn) and I doing the best we can. This is the first time we have done two nights and at least one is already sold out.”

In addition to a set composed of purely Christmas songs, this time a rock set complete of The Polyphonic Spreein which in addition to playing the band’s classics they premiered songs from Salvage Enterprisetheir first studio album in over a decade.

Salvage Enterprise It’s a cathartic album if you’re going through a difficult time. I would say it is closer to The Beginning of Stages than anything we’ve published before, but it’s also quite different. That album was created from a tragedy, while Salvage Enterprise “I was born to deal with depression and get out of it, something I have struggled with my entire life.”

But after 10 years without publishing unpublished material and a pandemic in between, something changed in Tim.

At that point I didn’t know if I could write a song, I thought I was done. But little by little, as I tried, I began to leave that thought behind. It’s a rawer, purer form of writing, so it’s very special to me; “It is the most vulnerable album I have ever released,” he confessed.

It is a conceptual album and the most cohesive in which I talk about moving forward and overcoming adversity. At first it doesn’t seem so encouraging, but it is in a strange way; “We all know there is light at the end of the tunnel and that is how it is in general with life,” she shared while reflecting on the creative process behind the album.

A notable feature of The Polyphonic Spree It is the great ensemble of instruments that it has, but what is it like to work with a band this complex and make it sound impeccable all the time?

I come from a rock band where it’s all guitar, bass and drums, occasional keyboard, so getting involved in the symphonic world was something I had no idea about. But if you have really good, committed musicians, like an established violinist who has been playing for 15 years, you know everything is going to sound great.”

So how did it happen that Tim decided to move from a rock band like Tripping Daisy to this great ensemble of multi-instrumentalists with The Polyphonic Spree?

Wes died and he was Tripping Daisy. It was a devastating situation for me because he was like a brother, a friend; a very important part of me. I love Tripping Daisy, but there was no way I could have continued without him. “It was like taking my arms and legs off.”

I didn’t think about making music for almost a year, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Whenever I was in Tripping Daisy I was thinking about this band, but as something I was going to do much later in life. I was wondering what would happen if instead of guitar, bass and drums, I included a string section and A trumpet”.

Fortunately, he continued with that vision, which earned him not only recognition from the public and the press, but also the David Bowie invited him to be part of the festival Meltdown curated by him in 2002, in addition to having the band as the opening act for his last tour in the United States.

At first it was going to be an experiment, I didn’t even want to be in the band, but I was dying to know what it would sound like. People responded well and it became a real thing. Some people told me there was no way I could tour, but at that moment I thought ‘I can do anything, I can make this happen’ and that’s how it started.”

Another important characteristic of the band is its clothing, which has led it to be compared to a cult, and as the dozens of documentaries that exist about it have taught us, they are all based on the basic human need to search for meaning. . Taking this into account, what would be the meaning of life for Tim DeLaughter and The Polyphonic Spree?

I think it’s about finding out what keeps you going. We have to grow and inherently want to be happy, it’s something we humans do to thrive. Life is very hard and for me the key is to discover how to move forward.”

It’s not something I already know,” he added, “precisely my songs talk about trying to understand it, but what I have learned is that we are completely capable of healing ourselves and overcoming the challenges that arise. You just have to keep changing, learn to listen to yourself and know that you have the ability to continue because life is amazing.”

But, returning to the cult comparison, what do you really think? Tim about?

I know we look like a cult, wearing robes and singing about the sun, and no one can be that happy. I understand it and even played with it, but at the end of the day, of course it could be a cult; one that is very easy to leave, enter and leave again. “More than 150 people have passed through the band, which has been crazy.”

About the plans for The Polyphonic Spree This 2024, as some people warned a long time ago, it is being difficult to get dates for a band with so many members, especially if they are looking to leave the United States.

It’s ridiculous, really difficult. We did it for a long time, we had things to do and we had money that allowed us to do it. But yeah, it’s fucking expensive,” he concluded. Tim.

Hopefully some Mexican promoter takes the step and dares to bookear to The Polyphonic Spreemeanwhile, Salvage Enterprise It has been available since last November 17 on all platforms streaming and also in various physical formats through


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.