For many musicians — and even fans — the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle exerts a strong pull. But that lifestyle can be hard to maintain as one gets older and has more responsibilities.

“Hard Love,” the new album from indie rockers Strand of Oaks, looks at how bandleader Tim Showalter balanced watching his rock ‘n’ roll dreams start to come true while his marriage suffered and his brother nearly died of cardiac arrest.

amNewYork recently talked with Showalter.


You’ve said “Hard Love” is about the struggle between overindulgence and accountability. How do you balance your passion for music with your obligations to your family?

It’s actually pretty simple, although it seems like the path least chosen. Focus on the needs of others that you love instead of yourself. Empathy is the most rewarding emotion. I’m learning you can be wild and have all the fun life can bring, but keep it outward facing, instead of inward. Music and family are so interconnected for me. My music is better when my house is in order.


What did you learn about yourself going through those hard times?

Look, everybody goes through hard times. It’s no different for the person writing the songs than the person listening to them. It’s all relative to the person, and all just as important. So yeah, I had some hard times, but I’m lucky to have a somewhat healthy outlet for those experiences.


What do you hope people get from the album?

My deepest hope is that people just can get lost for a bit. Getting those moments to not escape life but to transcend it. That’s what records do for me. And if I can help others get there, I’ll be able to sleep really well at night.


Did you have reservations about putting so much of your personal life into your songs at first? How did you get comfortable with doing that?

Yes, many reservations, usually after the fact. I’m an impulsive person, I leap before I think. I’m not comfortable with it. But my mind and my mouth never seem to stop moving. I also can’t be anything else but my exact person. I don’t know how to filter myself or curate a more focused image of myself. It’s just me, always me.

What inspired the first single, “Radio Kids”?

Just thinking about being young, and the world was there to discover. The beauty in experiencing everything for the first time. I’ll chase that feeling the rest of my life.


Does hearing a great song on the radio still move you the way it once did?

Yes! I heard Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” the other day and wept. I hadn’t heard it in years and someone on that particular station decided to play it. Not a robot, a human sent that song into space and I was there to catch it. Is there anything more beautiful? I don’t think so.