Wednesday, September 19, 2018

5 Minute Origin Stories with Brooks Thomas

Brooks Thomas
On 9/21/18, Brooks Thomas, taken from the surnames of the founders, Colleen and Danny, will be releasing Poison into the world.

They were classmates, then lovers, and now bandmates. One has to wonder what that might be like.

They hail from a dirty part of New York City that's survived the clean up. As for now, let's find out all about them. If you like what you hear, ask them about it on FACEBOOK.

You can get Poison HERE.

1. Is there an event you can point to you that made you say, wow, that's the instrument I want to play? Not like guitar or drums, but the reason why you play the model you do?

This is a difficult question because i think my main instrument is my voice, so there's really only one of those. For me, singing comes almost as naturally as breathing. My dad would play guitar and sing when I was a child and since then I've known that I want to express myself through music and song. 

Finding people to make music and harmonize with is one of the most exciting and satisfying things in my life. When people ask me why I sing it's pretty easy for me to say I wouldn't be me if I stopped singing.

Danny: When I was around 13 or 14 I was obsessed with Bob Marley. I guess I still am. Haha...anyways. I read all the books I could find on him and watched as much live footage as I could get my hands on. 

The internet wasn't what it is today so you couldn't youtube live performances of artists. You had to seek out DVDs or even VHS's. I remember I got this DVD of a documentary called Rebel Music. There was a lot of live footage. He played a Gibson Les Paul and got this warm yet piercing skank sound out of it. 

It seemed to anchor the entire sound of the band. I was learning guitar at the time on a crappy old Squire. I knew after watching that documentary that I needed a Les Paul.

2. How do you write a song?

It's different everytime, but usually there's some intense feeling of emotion that overwhelms my senses and in order to calm myself, I play some chords on the guitar or keyboard. If I feel the creative juices vibing with the chords then I start humming along, working through melodies.

Sometimes lyrics will start flowing as the melody progresses. Sometimes it will just be the notes. I write a decent amount of lyrics all the time, so if I just have the notes, I can usually work prewritten lyrics into the mix. 

Once I have chords, lyrics, and melody, then I'll often pull up midi instruments in a protools session and start mapping out the bass line, drum beat, synth parts, extra guitar parts, etc.

Normally when I write a song it begins with a single line, I give that line a melody and find the chords to match it. 

The rest of the song gets written through singing the line or verse, the music brings on more music and lyrics until the song is lyrically complete. This is when I bring the song to Danny and get his thoughts, we bring it to the band together and workshop it until it is complete. 

I normally have an idea about the mood of the song, the tempo, the different parts, but I think a song should include the whole band in its creation. 

3. How many concept records do you own? Could you ever write one?

I own several concept albums, my few favorites include Transatlanticism by Death Cab, Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats, DAMN by Kendrick Lamar, and Blonde by Frank Ocean. 

The first album Danny and I released, Sketches, was a concept album, strung together by the sound of the 1 Train in the Bronx and ending in sounds from the island of St. Croix. 

The idea was traveling from the harshness of city life and finding peace in nature, culminating in the track "Ether". Our newest album is also a concept album, outlining the end of a failing relationship and miscommunication and ending in the resolution and understanding of a Good Sleep. There are so many things that can make an album a concept album. 

The songs can all tell a story, the tracks can be strung together with interludes and found sounds, but ultimately I think the beauty of a concept album lies in the intent from the artist or artists to create something whole and beautiful. 

I hope all of the albums Brooks Thomas creates will be concept albums that tell a story or explore an emotion.

Danny: I own A Seat at the Table by Solange. I would probably call that a concept record. Growing up, I was really into The Wall by Pink Floyd. 

That record definitely made me think a lot about an album flowing through an entire idea. Also, more recently Blonde by Frank Ocean was a seriously inspiring concept record. 

I feel like we have written one in Poison. This record pretty much encapsulates a portion of the end of Colleen and I's relationship in 32 minutes of mostly continuous sound. 

4. Who's influence is most evident in your music? The least?

Tough question. I feel like other people might be better judges of that. I definitely was listening to a ton of Dirty Projectors when writing the Poison record, cause we were writing for one male voice and two female voices and trying to do something a little out there. 

I can hear a bit of them in our sound. Least evident would maybe be Bob Dylan. Colleen is a folk singer first and foremost and I know she draws a ton lyrically and melodically from Bob Dylan. 

Though it might be hard to hear in our sound, I think its there. 

5. Which one of your songs is the one your the most proud of?
Colleen:  I am most proud of the song I wrote called When You're Young. It is not currently recorded anywhere and you can really only hear it when we play it live. 

I started to write this song trying to deviate from my songwriting style, but it turned out to be more my style than anything I had previously written. 

It's about finding a person that really understands you, about not trying to adhere to societal expectations of real love and trying to realize that you don't have to put the pressure of being normal on yourself. 

I would say my favorite line is "Yes, we all grow old/ you might begin to believe all those stories you were told/ about love and the way it's supposed to be/ about heartache and other things you can't see". I hope that when it's recorded and released people will be able to relate to the idea of feeling expectations but continuing on when those expectations may never be met.

Danny: Gravity. Writing that song saved me from some seriously dark places. It was like therapy. 

6. Sum up your latest record for us. 

Poison is a collection of sounds conveying the pain that is present near and through the end of a long term relationship. It is a journey through co-dependence, substance abuse, and the tough realities of life with another person. 

Its dark and gritty, but ultimately it has a positive vibration. Its about drinking a simplified version of love until it consumes you and then transcending that and finding peace in friendship and mutual respect.

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