INTERVIEW: Neil Thomas
by Cyrus Rhodes
“Devadatta” by Neil Thomas is a highly original, somewhat unpredictable and fascinating musical experience from start to finish. Although it's primarily alt-rock based you never know what's coming round the corner with this band. The music is fresh and highly entertaining. Its strong suit – its amazing vocal presence and impressive songwriting finesse by this band led by Neil Thomas. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, and captivating and somewhat dark and unpredictable. All these songs have a ring of truth to them. Each song possesses a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Neil Thomas is a surging UK based talent for many reasons armed with a brilliant perspective an amazing voice to inspire your vivid imagination. Need I say more?
IMD How would you classify your music?
NT Everyone likes to pigeon-hole music don’t they? I would describe it as alternative rock with a heavy progressive rock influence. I’ve been inspired by the 80 post-punk/goth bands but these days my songs are more akin to adult rock-pop… It isn’t really something that I think about too much, I just crack on and write what comes naturally. There is no conscious decision to write in a particular style.
IMD Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?
NT In the past few years I’ve been listening to Porcupine Tree, Nine Inch Nails, Muse, White Stripes, Marillion amongst many many others. Steve Wilson’s music (in my humble opinion) is outstanding and he deserves much more attention than he gets at the moment. If he isn’t an influence then he is certainly an inspiration.
IMD What do you want fans to take from your music?
NT I’m always fascinated by music that works on different levels. Where themes create individual subject matter, song by song but also, how they work together to create a story as a whole. I guess that is always what I strive for and I hope that’s what the listener appreciates in my work. I’ve never been one for disposable bubblegum pop and hope that people who are into my material get a sense of the substance in my songs.
IMD How’s the music scene in your area?
NT Years of recession have taken its toll on the pubs and clubs in West Yorkshire and many venues have been forced to close. The live scene is on its knees and the bands that are out there struggle to be paid even enough to cover their costs. It is a sad state of affairs really…and even places like Leeds now struggle to provide live original entertainment. There is very limited scope for a new act to try and gain a following as people buy cheap booze, stay at home and get spoonfed warbling wannabees on The X Factor!
IMD What is the best concert you have been to?
NT Recently, I caught Nine Inch Nails in Manchester, I was blown away by The Halle Orchestra performing The Planet Suite (Gustav Holst) and I’ve seen an amazing show by percussionist virtuoso Evelyn Glennie
IMD Tell us about this latest album? Is there a single song here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
"I’ve never been one for disposable bubblegum pop and hope that people
who are into my material get a sense of the substance in my songs."
- Neil Thomas -
NT I don’t really have a favourite as such because with each album, I always strive to make each song an equal player on the disc. There’s nothing more annoying than liking a couple of songs on an album and writing off the remainders as “album fillers” Keeping in mind that with the way I write, these songs exist and develop for a long time before the finished album is completed, one or two do surprise me the way they turn out… “Deliberate Self Harm” for example deals with difficult subject matter but (ironically) employs a catchy upbeat melody to contrast the darkly intimate and vulnerable chorus. Another surprise “Charm Offensive” – a hugely optimistic piece that deals with the emotion of overcoming addiction. The lyric dovetails perfectly with the slow build of the song and it is the dynamics of the piece that surprised me more than anything else.
IMD Tell me about the vinyl release, that is a first for you isn’t it?
NT There is certainly a vinyl revival occurring in the UK at the moment and my prediction for the future is that the CD format will slowly disappear… Consumers either appreciate the convenience and portability of MP3s or they look for the tactile quality of a physical format. I think people are coming around to the warmth and sonic superiority of vinyl over the clinical sound of CD and record labels are now issuing 180g vinyl as the “Deluxe” version of an artists album (often including a digital copy on CD or MP3 downloads in with the package.) Second hand stores selling vinyl are making profits and high street stores like HMV now have a large selection of re-issued classics together with new releases. “Devadatta” is my first album to be available on LP and I’m also throwing in a CD with every vinyl sale for convenience. It was certainly proof to me that the analogue format is king. After working tirelessly on the production for these eight songs over a period of months, I was acutely aware of the difference between MP3 and CD quality. When the vinyl arrived I noticed immediately, the characterful sound and natural warmth shining through. I am immensely pleased with the work of the manufacturing company and from now on vinyl will be my premium format for future releases.
IMD How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?
NT That’s a very difficult question to answer as my music is constantly evolving. To put it into some perspective, I currently have two albums of material recorded, waiting for lyrics, vocals and production embellishments. There is also another album in the early stages of structuring, so I am constantly writing and recording. I don’t complete one project and then start the next one from scratch. Everything overlaps, so it is difficult to put my finger on anything that might have changed in my approach. Also, Id say that I’m far too busy playing, writing and recording, or looking for subject matter and inspiration to be self critical or analyse what is happening in the writing process.
IMD: What’s next for Neil Thomas?
NT Album number six is well underway…. I can’t explain too much – but I have set myself rather a difficult challenge. I am in the process of re-writing the rule book on the obligatory “love song” ….he he he
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
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