The Hitmen

Dateline: 01/16/98

The Hitmen is a trio from Texas, a place where if something is worth doing, it's done in a big way. Three men, Tim Aquilina, Bob Lail, and Mike Baehr spread themselves equally over a multitude of instruments and musical styles from around the world. Their new CD, Light in August, presents sixteen tracks, mostly acoustic, of original and traditional music, songs and instrumentals, and three very individual musicians and songwriters.

I recently asked The Hitmen some questions. Expect nothing typical of this band!

Left to right: Tim, Mike, and Bob
Paula: How long have you guys been together and how did the Hitmen come to be?

The Hitmen: We have been together for over 4 years. We are old friends from college, reunited after many years. However, Bob and Mike played in various incarnations/forms for years.

Paula: Are you guys fulltime musicians or do you have dayjobs, and if so, what are your dayjobs?

Tim: I work by day as a nurse anesthetist at a local hospital.
Mike: I work as a professor of English at the local Community College.
Bob: I work as a computer dep't manager for a TV manufacturer.

Paula: I noticed by listening to your CD that all three of you have individual styles, yet they come together and mix so well -- was this natural for the band, or did it take some work?

The Hitmen: It was natural, effortless. We strived for variety of style, but it blended well. We also encourage individuality.

Paula: You guys play a lot of instruments -- what is your live show like; how do you handle so many instruments on stage, or do you have backup musicians as well?

The Hitmen: Our live shows are usually just the 3 of us.......occasionally a wayward relative on hospital pass will join us either on guitar or percussion. The feel of the music live is the same, but we are limited to one instrument per musician, usually. Each one of us sings live......and we essentially trade off on almost every instrument; no one member has exclusive rights to any particular instrument per se......except for Tim on fiddle, but that could change......nothing is permanent. We also do some covers live, some popular, some traditional, and some completely way out.

Paula: What are your influences musically?

Tim: The Grateful Dead, also very many different world music styles from all around the globe; also traditional bluegrass, folk, gospel, and indigenous styles.
Mike: Springsteen is my favorite musician, but I also love the popular music of the '60s; especially The Beatles and Dylan. I also love folk and classical music.
Bob: My favorite music is the stuff by King Crimson, Yes, Procol Harum, "art rock' they used to call it; the Beatles, Kinks, Stones, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, mostly British stuff. But my main influence in songwriting is the strangeness and temporal nature of life and the world.

Paula: is this your first CD?

The Hitmen: Yes, but we've made a number of other recordings along the way.

Paula: What are the future plans for the band?

The Hitmen: We would like to do more live performances in the coming year. Maybe stage a death of a bandmember for publicity reasons. But we definitely would like to record another CD which we already have more than enough material for. There's actually a 4th Hitmen in the current incarnation of a one Pat Hamilton; he plays lead guitar and sings. He wasn't on the first album owing to academic pursuits elsewhere. but he has returned to the black hole of El Paso, and is about to become enmeshed in our veritable music morass.

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