Some people spend piles of money and countless hours reclining on a sofa in a psychiatrist’s office to explore the dual nature of their personalities. Tim Sutton only needs look out at the crowd at one of his live shows to know which way to lean.
Sutton, a Saugerties High, class of 1991 alum, is the principal songwriter, vocalist and guitarist in two local two-man acts: Ratboy and Ratboy Jr.: the former a quirky stripped-down antifolk outfit, and the latter a natural extension of that style adapted for kids.
As with so many musicians, it all began for Sutton in high school, in part because it wasn’t as easy to dig up what was cool back when the internet wasn’t able to serve as an instant filter.
“I’m so glad I went to high school at that time,” Sutton said. “You had to seek music out.”
Sutton’s first band, Pacemaker, saw its four members fall under the influence of metal. “We were really into Metallica, (Judas) Priest, King Diamond; all that stuff.”
Sutton was a junior in high school at the time, and he wound up fronting a band of freshmen. Like Sutton, most of those guys are also still playing music today.
“It was Dan Cartwright, who is the drummer for Voodelic; Jeff Kadlic was the bass player, and he’s the guitar player in Lara Hope & the Champtones; and the guitar player was Jackie Peeler,” Sutton said, adding that his role was at least partly delineated based on need and coincidence.
“Someone bought me a microphone stand, so I became the singer,” he said. “Everyone stumbled upon their instruments.”
Pacemaker’s first show was in Glasco on a bill with Final Notice, the set performed on the back of a flatbed pickup truck; their second, a benefit in Kingston with New Paltz-based indie heroes Silence. By the end, the band had let the influx of guitar-based alternative music creep into the sound via bands like Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains. It dissolved, Sutton recalled, when Kadlic went off to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Soon after, Sutton found his way out west, living and working in Yellowstone National Park and writing songs on his own for the first time. When he moved back home, Sutton settled in New Paltz with a canon of road-tested material. He hooked up with his friend, drummer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Senzatimore, and the rest is Ratboy history.
“[Ratboy] just came out of me and Matty’s friendship, just being around at a time and not having other people to play with at the moment,” Sutton said. “It was so nice to be an acoustic duo and not have to deal with any of the band drama.”