Tim Stopulos won’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
The easygoing 39-year-old Bettendorf native — a tremendously talented singer-songwriter who performs as Tim Stop — is back where it all began for him and looking forward to a bright future.
He and his wife Maria are settled in their new home, with three children — Kate, 4, Luke, 2, and Tommy, five months. Stop moved back to Bettendorf last summer from South Bend, Ind. They also lived in Kansas City and Chicago.
After bouncing around a lot (Stop and his family were renting from his aunt in South Bend), they bought a house in Bettendorf last July and want to put down roots.
“We finally feel comfortable here,” Stop said recently, thrilled to be back close to his siblings and parents.
The mellow, super laid-back man — preparing to release his first album of new music in five years — is perhaps best known for opening for the legendary band Chicago many times, including a 2013 one-off at Moline’s Vibrant Arena at The MARK. Stop played two months in summer 2014, opening for REO Speedwagon and Chicago (in 20-minute sets), and toured with Chicago in 2016 on a few shows on the East Coast.
Stop graduated from Assumption High School, Davenport, and Wake Forest University. His mom grew up in a musical family in Davenport (one of eight kids) and she has six children (Tim’s sibs include brother Pete Stopulos, a realtor, and sister Annie, who owns the clothing store Theo & Co. in downtown Davenport).
Tim moved to Chicago after college, and got connected with the bands Chicago and REO Speedwagon.
Opening solo on big tours
Stop said Chicago the band’s manager is a Notre Dame alum, who knew his aunt, who worked in development at the university. He did all his opening act gigs just solo, and didn’t tour with a band until 2019.
“The first time was definitely nerve-wracking,” Stop said of his debut in his hometown, 11,000-seat arena. “They were pretty gracious for the most part, but there were times, like in South Bend (home of Notre Dame), where the crowd was ready for the headliner.”
REO’s lead singer, Kevin Cronin, introduced Stop, saying “You’re gonna love this guy.”
Most of the shows, audiences were attentive and it got easier for him as the tours went on. “It got me comfortable doing that kind of thing on my own,” Stop said.
He recorded albums in Los Angeles, one studio was where Adele has recorded, and worked with producer Aaron Johnson (who’s produced hit albums for the Fray).
Stop’s 2014 acoustic album “Shadowbox” included three songs recorded live on tour. “For the Birds” (2018) had a successful single, “Perfect Fool.”
Working while on lockdown
He and Maria had their first child, Kate, in 2018. During lockdown in 2020, Stop (like many artists) performed many virtual shows online. The cover videos he posted were called “CoVids.”
“It was mostly solo stuff,” he said, noting he started writing and recording the new album then. “It was a bit of a challenge, to a degree, because I don’t have a studio, per se. Thankfully, a lot of the guys I’ve known over the years, like the bass player had his own bass studio.”
Stop was able to secure Steely Dan’s touring drummer, the legendary Keith Carlock, to record for his new disc. He also played on their Grammy-winning “Two Against Nature” (2000).
“I would just send him what I was working on, and he’d send the tracks back,” he said of Carlock. “Eventually we got it worked out, but we never met.”
Stop was going to see him with Steely Dan when they came to play at the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park in fall 2021, but he got COVID and couldn’t go.
“We talked back and forth and he was a super gracious dude,” he said.
A new record
The new record — “Silver Lining” — features nine new original songs, some leftover and unrecorded from “For the Birds.”
“I spent probably two or three years writing for this one,” Stop said, noting he recorded from home. He’d send his vocal, keyboard and guitar tracks to his fellow musicians to add theirs. Stop and Justin Hooks did the production and mixing.
“The thing I really loved about this process – working in L.A., you’re on a pretty tight timeline, with budgets and other players. They’re great at it, but at the same time, you can’t go back for a third take.”
“This album, we got to work on it for an entire year, and really get it as close to my vision as we could,” he said. “I don’t think you can say it’s perfect. But at least we had the time to let it breathe and figure out. I am pretty pleased with how it came out.”
Stop has not done a proper tour since the pandemic; he’s planning on getting back to performing this fall.
“It’s been a lot of one-offs, the online things,” he said. “Hopefully, this fall we’ll do a real tour to support it.”
Since Stop is focusing on his family, the touring may start mainly on weekends, he said, including the QC.
A new music video
The video for his new single “Athens Bound” was filmed a year ago, at the Davenport Airport.
Stop has a friend with a private jet, and he thought it would be fun to use as a backdrop for the band, which toured with him in 2019.
The boat scenes were filmed when he and Maria took a trip to Greece in 2017, before they had kids. The story of the song is about Athens, Greece.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to get some footage of the trip that inspired the actual song?” Stop said. “It’s iPhone video.”
‘It was a lot of fun to shoot it,” he said of the band on “Athens Bound.” While there is brass on the song, they’re not in the video.
“I don’t know what the inspiration was to get horns on that song,” Stop said of the only song with horns on “Silver Lining.” (Chicago has been a rock band with horns since its start in the late ’60s.)
“Once I got the song laid down, I felt like the chorus was missing something, so I put down some synth horns,” he said. A friend of his suggested getting real horns, recorded by one guy (Andy Schlinder) playing a variety of saxophones.
“It comes to life – you forget how much having real instruments makes a difference,” Stop said. “Athens Bound” will be released March 8 and the entire album available April 10.
Why “Silver Lining”?
He was inspired to write the song “Silver Lining” from a friend going through divorce, and his own wife pursuing a career change.
“It’s a tough time; it’s hard to see your way forward, that things will actually get better,” Stop said. “It felt like with the pandemic going on, trying to focus on the positive. Use the down time – we had all these shows scheduled and they all got canceled. So use the time to write and record this album.”
Maria is a creative recruiter, working for advertising agencies, and she’s now working for more companies.
Stop plans to do some performances over the summer. To watch “Athens Bound,” click HERE. For more information, visit his Facebook HERE and Spotify HERE.