Having made a bright and infectious pop-rock statement on the 2014 album Columbus Field, T. Thomason has graduated to a higher level of lyrical incisiveness and sonic experimentation on his new EP sweet baby, out May 12 on Coax Records. In basic terms, it’s about leaving teenage angst behind and fully embracing who you really are.
The five songs on sweet baby grew out of a period of self-discovery for the Nova Scotia native over the past two years, which also included sharing stages with the likes of Joel Plaskett, Hey Ocean! and The Trews. While on the road with Collective Soul, Thomason shared some of the work in progress with his bassist Dave Henriques who suggested they start recording immediately after the tour.
The results are an all-too-brief roller coaster of emotions ranging from the gutsy power pop anthem “Sally (Sally Be My Spirit Guide),” to the whip-smart love song “My Kind,” and the slow-burning closer “The Wait.” In all, sweet baby marks the start of a new chapter for T. Thomason, both personally and creatively, and the fully-formed arrival of an artist sure to challenge the image of Canadian rock.
T. Thomason’s co-headlining tour of eastern Canada with the band Cameron kicks off May 12 in Halifax. Full list of dates and more info here
What makes sweet baby stand apart from your previous work?
I like to think that sweet baby has a slightly more mature, darker sound. I think the content of the songs and the emotions coming out in it are a little more intimate, and intense than what I've explored previously. The production is purposely huge and sweeping, which I'm very excited about. We've got a lot of undeniable rock moments in there and then there's a hint of the ambient, synth-y vibes which I feel really into at the moment. I think those things alone are big departures from my previous work.
What made these songs right to release as an EP, rather than releasing a full-length?
Being able to hone in on the songs that really stuck out to both me and my producer Dave Henriques felt like a real privilege. We were able to take a lot of time with each track and get it to a place that was right for the sake of the song, and not because we needed it to fit an album, time-wise or sound-wise. I just loved the experience of giving so much more thought to the tracks than I'd been able to on past projects and I really think that was because we had less material to worry about. It felt like an opportunity to say what we wanted and say it well. This EP truly is my baby.
How is your approach to playing live changing with your new material?
It's become really important to me to let the songs go to new places live. I used to worry about everything sounding exactly as it did on the recording, but I've realized there's so much rooms for songs to grow on stage. To miss that opportunity is really shooting yourself in the foot. There's a lot in the live show that you won’t hear on the EP. It keeps the songs fresh and the band and I excited to get on stage every night.
What's your best touring story?
I don’t really have a specific story; it’s all kind of represented through my relationship with Dave. We had been playing together for almost a year when I was offered an opening slot on Collective Soul's cross-Canada tour in 2014. Dave came as my bass player/ road manager. We got to know each other as well as you can when you're stuck in a van and sharing hotel rooms for two weeks. Out of that time came the idea to go into the studio at Coalition Music in Toronto where Dave is an engineer, and we started demoing sweet baby. I'll be forever thankful for that tour, that friendship and creative relationship.
If you could change anything about the music business, what would it be?
It would be great if singles weren't the only thing that mattered at the moment and people still cared about entire albums. I'm an old fogey at heart.