Tim Midyett is a musician based in Chicago, by way of Seattle and Missoula, MT. He has been a core member of highly acclaimed bands such as Silkworm , Bottomless Pit, and his current project, Mint Mile. Tim truly enjoys espresso, and even created a meat rub which utilizes it as a component. He’s really great at talking about these things, so I’m going to let him take it from here.
Tim Midyett, in anticipation of espresso.
Hey Tim, thanks for agreeing to do this. Why don’t we start off with you telling me a bit about yourself?
Well, I’m a dude. I’m 49. I’ve been with the same young woman most of my life. We have a daughter who is a good person. I work for a living. I like to play music and read and watch sports and eat and drink coffee.
You’ve been actively releasing music in a series of amazing bands for many years now, should we just start at the top?
Oh, thanks for that! Hmm. Yeah. My first band was called the Tremors. We did a version of Brown Sugar that wasn't as good as the original. I sang it, at age 13, but I couldn’t play the real bass part, so i just went doink doink doink on the G string. A lot wrong with all that.
Then I was in a band called Children of Habit. Best-named band I have ever been in. Unfortunately we never left the basement.
Then I was in a real good band called Ein Heit. Then another real good one called Silkworm for a long, long time. Then another real good one called Bottomless Pit for several years.
Now I have a band called Mint Mile of which I am very fond.
How would you describe Mint Mile, your current project, in comparison to other ones you’ve been involved in?
I suppose it’s more languid and abstract, but also somehow more inviting, probably. It’s a little less gripped all the time and easier on the ears.
To the best of my knowledge, you have resided in Missoula, Seattle, and Chicago (for 15 years or so now?) How do you feel the three compare in terms of livability?
Missoula is absolutely beautiful in July and August unless the mountains are on fire. It’s a college town, full of coffee and pretty cheap food and very many bars and bookstores. It is liveable in an extremely laid back way, to the point of being a vortex. You can go there for school or whatever and find yourself in your late fifties one day, with a beer in hand and a one-hitter in your pocket, wondering what happened.
Seattle is naturally lovely. A great vacation. It’s still got industrial and fishing roots, but it's infused with and perhaps infected by tech. Overlaid with this glaze of neon and colored glass, an attempt to mirror the abundant yet familiar choices of the internet on city streets and break through the grey dome that is over those streets for most of the year.
Chicago is super active and inexhaustible. It can wear people out, but you can never wear it out. A real city.
How did you experience the music and art culture in the three?
We had to roll our own in Missoula 100%. DIY to the max. Good way to learn. I saw, hmmm, maybe two really good shows. Art films would show at a couple of the theaters, so you could see Paris, Texas or Blue Velvet or The Man Who Fell to Earth or whatever, if you were lucky. And books. You could get books. I worked at one of two good record stores in town, Rockin' Rudy's, and I put together the guts of my record collection there.
Seattle had places to play but was surprisingly the same in terms of us having to make our own way there. Wasn’t until we started touring that we found our audience. I did see a shitload of great shows and movies there and made some lifelong friends. Bought a ton of books. I worked at a great record store, Park Avenue Records, which was invaluable to my continuing education.
Chicago always has had a lot going on. No real scene. Just people doing what they do creatively in between whatever junk they do for a living. I took to that casual but persistent vibe instantly and felt utterly at home. I don't take quite as much advantage of some of the arts stuff as I would were I younger and less busy. Not as many new books, not as many movies for me in my life now. Still some shows. I still buy loads of records. Way more museums.
How about coffee culture?
I guess I started drinking coffee early in high school. Regular diner coffee on weekends, late at night. I think it helped establish my tolerance as I can drink it at night even now and be fine.
Seattle of course was kind of...maybe...at least seemed like the epicenter of coffee in the U.S. in the 90s. Had a glut of it. A few places were quite good. Vivace is still great and probably the best coffee in the city.
The first time I got actually addicted to caffeine was when I worked at Park Avenue. I would get three quad iced Americanos in every eight-hour shift and wonder why I felt like shit on my days off. Eventually figured it out.
Silkworm had a couple of amazing tours of Italy, and after the first one I got a Moka Pot. That’s when I started drinking coffee at home regularly.
So, let’s talk about coffee now. You’re an espresso guy, right?
Yes. Very shortly after moving to Chicago in 2000, we got our first espresso machine.
I’m not a snob. I will drink any coffee. Waiting room coffee, gas station coffee, whatever. But once I could make espresso at home, I quit brewing coffee and started to drink espresso every day.
Are there other brew methods you are a fan of?
The Technivorm Moccamaster makes very good drip. We have one of those in the office. Pour-over, French press, and the Moka Pot all get the job done. That plunger one, Aeropress--that's good, too, and it's cute that you can make one nice cup with it.
The Bialetti Moka Pot, photo by Kristan Lieb
Are there coffees from certain regions you are particularly fond of?
Central and South America, I guess? I like Kona coffee as well. Anything that lends itself to a bold, complex flavor.
Some of my favorite blends have some Ethiopian coffee in them. But I don’t love the light, citrusy stuff that is trendy right now. Is most of that stuff African? I feel like it is. I'll drink it, but it doesn't make me maximally happy.
Generally I like dark coffee. Not over-roasted like Bucky's, though I have been known to be jacked about finding a Starbucks, driving through the Dakotas or something.
Full, layered flavor. All those dark notes of dark chocolate and nuts and wood and tobacco and tar and dirt and stuff. Some naturally occurring fruitiness is OK if it's blackberry or blueberry or cherry.
I don't like any extra additional flavor attempts, like if it's aged in a bourbon barrel or has any extra anything in it like hazelnut or vanilla or whatever. That stuff I cannot abide under any circumstances.
Very occasionally, I will have a cappuccino, but 99% of the time I drink either espresso or coffee straight.
You’ve incorporated coffee into culinary uses beyond just a beverage. Tell me about Midyett Premium Rub.
Midyett Premium Rub is an awesome rub for meat but also most other stuff. It’s made for beef and game meat, but it’s kick-ass in pork and poultry and tomatoes and potatoes and popcorn etcetera.
The keys to the Rub are sumac and espresso-roast coffee. They combine into a real earthy, satisfyingly umami kind of flavor that serves to enhance and augment all sorts of stuff. The coffee chars up really wonderfully on meat or grilled vegetables.
I am sorry I used "umami" as an adjective.
How do you feel that coffee plays into your creativity?
Oh...I’m not really awake until I’ve had a double shot of espresso. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. But coffee is sort of essential to my life.
Beyond the caffeine and all that, a well-pulled shot is basically my favorite thing to drink, maybe to ingest at all, and it always puts me in a good frame of mind. I feel like it always gets the wheels turning. I'm not a speedy kind of guy, but it's just a satisfying experience in addition to being an appropriately low-level stimulant.
*Fear not! If you happen to be reading this and it is not currently summer, you will likely still be hungry at some point.
Here's a well made documentary about the rock band Silkworm.
We've compiled some of Tim's music for your listening enjoyment, so enjoy!