While drummer Tim Kaesemacher kept busy playing with Denver rockabilly bands the Jinns and the Hillbilly Hellcats, psychobilly surf-punk act Jetredball and a number of others starting in the late ’80s, it’s been about a decade since he played his last live gig. Kaesemacher, who taught drums for about fifteen years, had back issues that made it painful for him to sit at his kit, which he eventually sold.
But three years ago, Kaesemacher went out to his tool shed and saw a kid's bow-and-arrow set and a five-gallon plastic Homer bucket that he took the handle off “so it doesn't rattle too much.” He put the bow on top of the bucket, took a little beater from an Irish drum and started playing the makeshift instrument, bending the bow and thinking, “This kind of sounds cool.”
Under the moniker Tool Bucket Tim, Kaesemacher built upon that initial idea and dubbed his instrument Diddley Bow Bucket, which is somewhat percussive in nature. It was inspired by instruments used by Seasick Steve and Justin Johnson. Now Kaesemacher uses things he already has in his tool shed — like garden stakes and tippers, or branches that have fallen from a giant maple tree in his back yard — to make music.
He even stapled upright bass strings to branches to make a string instrument and use a guitar slide.
“I’m applying my drum technique to the actual instrument,” Kaesemacher says. “I'm using a brass slide, and then I have different types of beaters that I can use to create the sounds. I've got a bunch of different sizes of branches. I have a huge one that's like six feet tall that's pretty tricky to play, but I leaned against the bucket. And I also touched it to the tool shed, and I get the whole reverberation of the tool shed in the recording.”
Kaesemacher says he also took a warped piece of wood from his porch, put a string on it, did his best to tune it, and put a socket from a socket-wrench set on it.
“I've been getting some pretty good sounds out of it, too,” he says.
Kaesemacher calls the music he makes Western Spaghetti, along with elements of surf, soundtrack, alternative, tribal, roots, blues and dark Americana. He estimates that over the past three years, e’s made about 1,700 tracks, many of them recorded using an Olympus digital recorder placed under the bucket.
“I found that some of my best recordings come from me putting the recorder literally under the bucket and then starting to play something,” he says. “So I kind of call it spontaneous improvisational composition. That would be SIC for short.”
One of Tool Bucket Tim’s more recent recordings is “Big Elephant Talk Thundering Herd RMX,” something of an ode to King Crimson’s 1981 song “Elephant Talk.”
“That one is literally a bucket where I used a broom handle,” Kaesemacher says. “And I have to have a really thin string going through the center of it. And I just flex the broom handle back and forth and then play it with whatever beater I decide to use on it.”
“Cuttin’ the Corner,” another newer cut, was born from a riff Kaesemacher had in his head. He practiced it for a few minutes and then recorded it in one take, from beginning to end. The song’s title is a riff on President Donald Trump claiming the country was “rounding the corner” with COVID last October even as cases were surging.
“I know what he's trying to say, but it's so ridiculous,” Kaesemacher says.
“More or Less Mudd Than Clay” was inspired by Primus frontman Les Claypool, while “The Way the West Was Wasted, Pt. Three" is about how crazy the current state of the world is.
As long as it's warm enough in Fort Collins, Kaesemacher will continue to make music in his shed: “Whenever the weather gets up to at least about 40 to 50 degrees in the tool shed, then I get the feeling and I'll go out and record something."
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