If you could design the perfect concert line-up, what would it be? You can choose to include yourself or not.
I am a huge classic rock fan, so my ideal concert would be bands from that era, with their original lineups. The Who, Pink Floyd, The Clash, and Rush would be at the top of the list. Believe it or not, I originally saw The Who in their “Farewell Tour” in 1982!
What is your songwriting style?
I tend to write classic rock songs, with influences from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Most of my songs have the standard verse chorus format, with a bridge and/or a guitar solo. My songs are pretty bass and guitar heavy, but I have used synths that pay homage to ‘80s bands like The Cure.
I always try to impart some wisdom in my songs – giving the lyrics meaning. I call this “conscious rock.” I look at some of the major problems I see in the world today, and I write songs about them. Whether the issue is societal (like climate change, political division, or the tendency to blame one another) or individual (like the downsides of constantly striving for perfection or a reflection on wasted youth), I want the listener to glean a message in each of my songs.
Do you have any odd stories about how a song came about?
Although it was released last year, I actually wrote the basic structure and lyrics for my song “Suburban Void” in the early 1990s. I was in a cover band while in law school, and I started messing around with a fun chord progression. I was much closer in time to my teenage years, so I then came up with some lyrics about wasted youth in growing up in the suburbs. The lyrics came pretty quickly, especially the refrain, which includes the shout-out “Pathetic!” I did not record it at the time, either with my cover band or solo.
Jump ahead 25 years to the pandemic, and I started writing and recording music. I found the lyrics in a box of old stuff and I decided to try my hand at recording the song. I had to change some of the lyrics a bit, as they were dated, but the song still fits our time. It is a chill rock song with some quirky guitar parts and a touch of biting humor. The lyric video (found at www.AndrewThomases.com) is also amusing.
How/when did you get your start playing music?
My music playing days started in the late 1970s. (Yep, I am that old.) I was a young kid and my dad took me to see Beatlemania on Broadway. I was captivated by Paul McCartney, and I asked my dad if I could borrow his old bass guitar. I took it to a summer camp, and thought about taking lessons. A friend had tried out for a rock band at the camp and found out that they needed bass guitarists. He mentioned me, even though I had not had a single lesson. The head of the rock shop convinced me to join the band, but he had to show me where to put my fingers on the fretboard and how to pluck each note.
From there, I started playing in bands every summer and then got much more serious in high school in the 1980s. I was in cover bands all through high school, college, and law school.
What role does music play in your life?
I always have music playing in the background. Some people come home and immediately turn on the TV. I come home and immediately turn on the stereo. I play music while relaxing, while working, while working out – all of the time.
Most importantly, I associate music with the milestones in my life. I usually can place events by what song was big at the time. And vice-versa. I have vivid memories of when certain albums came out or when a new song hit the radio. Music was also at the heart of several childhood friendships. One of us would buy an album and all of us would listen together.
What is your favorite book/show/movie lately?
As a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I just love Stranger Things. I find it amusing and fulfilling that artists like Kate Bush are having a huge resurgence because of that show. It is funny to me because I have so much ‘80s music on constant rotation in my playlists.
How do you know when a song is finished? Is it ever?
That one is easy. A song is never finished. However, at a certain point, I have to pass the song across to my sound engineer for mixing and mastering. After that point, I can no longer do my own mixing in my home studio. I do give feedback on draft versions, but those are usually minor tweaks. In some ways, it is hard to let go of control, but in others it is good to have a clean break. Otherwise, the perfectionist in me would never let go.
What do you do outside music that contributes to your music?
I am still a full-time lawyer, so music is my hobby and my passion. I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to make music, but it is sometimes difficult to find the time.
Also, I am a father to three great kids, and their future is the most important thing to me. That is why I am so concerned about big-picture issues like the environment, our divisions in society, and the like. Being a parent is a large part of my focus on “conscious rock.”
What message do you want your fans to take away from your music?
Ultimately, my message is positivity. However, some of my conscious rock songs express my frustration with society as a way of pointing out things we need to focus on and fix. In other words, the message is “Listen up. We have issues that are impacting us all, and we should work together on changing those for the better.”
Is there an artist you’ve wanted to see in concert, but never have had the chance?
I would have loved to see The Clash in concert. I had a chance to see them live at Shea Stadium in 1982, but I was low on funds and sold the tickets. I still regret that decision.
What is an object from a movie or tv show you wish existed in real life?
The transporter from Star Trek. Wouldn’t it be great to just beam from one place to another instantly? Think of all of the time we’d save!
The music industry evolves so quickly. What do you think is the best way for people to find new music?
I am still trying to figure that out, so if you have the latest ideas please let me know. Seriously though, I miss the days where record companies had much more focus on developing many new artists and getting them radio play. There was a real investment in new music genres and innovation in music. I fear that the big players are less interested in that today. Thus, it is up to independent blogs, magazines, playlists, and the artists themselves to get the best new music out to the people. That makes it easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think the best thing to do is to support that network supporting independent artists.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
I am a huge skier. I love the thrill of a steep run and deep powder.
What’s the best piece of advice another musician has given you?
The best advice I received was to make the music that sounds good to you. That may mean being unconventional and breaking out of a typical scale, mode, or chord progression. If you like it, follow your gut and enjoy the ride.