For fifteen years, Michigan’s Fred Thomas has put out solo records and played in the bands Saturday Looks Good To Me, Mighty Clouds, Failed Flowers and more. Thomas has always made the kind of music that seemed to fly under the radar until his 2015 album All Are Saved. The first of three that would make Thomas more of a household name, it began this personal journey that continued on last year’s Changer, and comes full circle on the recently released Aftering. We’ve always been fans, and we’ve even felt that Thomas made the kind of music that reminded us of a modern day Tom Verlaine or Alex Chilton.
For this interview, it was just two questions – though two that might be difficult to answer, even for someone as well versed in music as Thomas. His live sets have always been captivating, as Thomas navigates between stories that feel really personal, so it was easy to ask him, what are two albums that changed your life and why?
“The first is The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle. I came into it when I was getting into the Beach Boys’ Summertime music, The Kinks, that type of stuff. It’s a lonely record. There’s a character to most music, upbeat and happy sounds that create a hopeful sound. That’s not there at all on that record. The song, “Friends Of Mine” it’s about two people who were happy in love. I read somewhere that by the time the album came out the couples were broken up.
“The second record is Black Candy by Beat Happening. Did they know the recorder was on? Is it all a mistake? Listening to bands like Unwound and The Jesus Lizard, the possibilities of what music can be opened up because of that record.”
The second question was who were two current artists that he was into and why, and Thomas answered without missing a beat. “I worked closely with Bonny Doon. I helped record their first and second records. They make spiritual punk, like Pavement or Grateful Dead. They’re cognizant of what they do, it’s not like ‘hey, it’s the 90’s and acid wash.’ They’re writing great stuff and their songs last.
“The second act, would be Empath. They’re from Philadelphia, their drummer was in Perfect Pussy, they’re real high energy and poppy. Their music hits me because it’s super lo-fi with synths for no reason.”
Fred Thomas’ latest release Aftering is available to stream from all streaming sites, you can purchase it in all digital store fronts, and directly from Bandcamp as well as from Polyvinyl Records. You can experience Fred Thomas live and in person for his tour with fellow label mate Anna Burch. The tour begins October 10 at MOTR in Cincinnati and ends in Chicago at The Empty Bottle on October 26. A full list of his tour dates can be found here.
Image Credits: Photo by Miles Larson.