Just do it. We all know the famous advertising phrase. But when it comes to the music industry, sometimes that's the only thing left to do. Take the leap, become the musician you've always wanted to be. "What do you do, sir"?..."Who me? I'm a musician"! Fred Thomas, he did it...
Changer is the soundtrack to life as it used to be for Fred Thomas. Every artist has their niche complaint. For some it's politics, others it's love and romantic troubles. For Fred Thomas, it's the mundanity of the underachieving life of man who isn't doing what he wants to do! Don't we all know that feeling? But few can portray it as beautifully as Fred Thomas. Changer doesn't only represent a change in lifestyle for Fred Thomas, it also marks a more differentiated style of his song writing.
There certainly is a lot of co-existing occuring on Changer. Across the 13 track record, Fred Thomas exhibits his usual comfort at the guitar, but also an additional confidence with the electronic aspect of his music. It has added a new twist to his song writing; so whereas his more classic Rock and Roll numbers such as 2008, Brickwall and Reactionary is a continuation of the great Fred Thomas style we know and love - Changer marks the significant development of his other sound. Electronic music has stolen the limelight on this record. The stand out performances of Echolocation and Mallwalkers is a testament to this. Here's what happened when Third Outing spoke to Fred Thomas, but if you want his advice? Just do it...
"I'm a songwriter at heart but I want to push my songs into a lot of different sonic territories. There's a lot of clashing sounds trying to fit in; orchestral string arrangements alongside electronic sounds and super noisy textures, all trying to co-exist"
Fred Thomas, with the release of Changer are you going to be the most Rock and Roll man of 2017?
Yeah, totally! This is why we scheduled it for release at the beginning of the year, so the bar would be set impossibly high right away.
Aim high, my friend. You said that the first release Brickwall is about comparing yourself to others. Does the theme run throughout the entire record? Mallwalkers, for example, has a Lee Ranaldo sense of rant about it.
There are always several themes running through the lyrics of a lot of my songs, sometimes contradicting each other and sometimes coming back together by the end. Brickwall is one of the more conflicted songs because it's written from the perspective of someone who's super drunk and thinking about their lives in that drunk way that changes gears quickly. Thinking about the person who dumped them, and all their friends who seem to be moving on with their lives and feeling both jealous and scornful at the same time.
Mallwalkers is a little more single-minded, just thinking of the emotional prison that being young can often feel like, working at a shitty job at the mall, hanging out with people you don't really connect with, trying to figure life out as it's happening and changing at a lightning fast pace. Lee Ranaldo and Sonic Youth are hugely influential on the record, for sure. I grew up listening to SY, so it's connected to the teenage years I sometimes tap into on the lyrics here.
"Quit your job, make your band or art or political platform or social cause or whatever the sole thing you put your energy into, because there's more ways to survive than we're often convinced there are"
How do you describe your music? Apart from SY we hear bands such as The Hold Steady/Mendoza Line...
I hear those comparisons a lot but I actually have never heard those bands outside of one or two Hold Steady songs that sounded nice. I took a lot of inspiration from emo bands I used to listen to that had more speaking in the lyrics. The Van Pelt, Constantine Sankathi, and the record Summary by BARR were all super powerful to me. I also feel like I'm a songwriter at heart but I want to push my songs into a lot of different sonic territories. This means there's a lot of clashing sounds trying to fit in the songs; orchestral string arrangements alongside electronic sounds and super noisy textures, all trying to co-exist.
"He gave notice at the writing job that had offered stability for years, got married and moved to Canada, all between multiple tours that ran the spectrum from sold out opening slots to sleeping in the car after empty gigs". What advice do you give to other artists, especially those starting out, about taking the leap of faith?
The answer to this question could be a whole book unto itself. But to be short, my advice would be absolutely do it. Quit your job, make your band or art or political platform or social cause or whatever the sole thing you put your energy into, because there's more ways to survive than we're often convinced there are. Eventually everything will shift and hopefully the things you experience while pursuing what you care most about will be the most valuable things you learn.