Robert Earl Thomas Talks Solo Debut

Widowspeak guitarist Robert Earl Thomas’ solo record bares all.

The debut album Another Age is a milestone for Thomas. Working in multiple music projects, this album has been able to provide the world with a sound that is solely his and a vibe that comes from deep down in his soul. He tells BTRtoday that he hopes his music conjures up old memories within its listeners, in a reflective and soothing way.

Just released this month and performed live for the first time, his music feels extremely personal. “It grew out of a time of transition and reflection,” Thomas says. “I think I only really started [writing music] with this record, that’s probably why it’s so personal—that was the only thing that worked for me.”

Influenced by synth-heavy pop and dreamy punk rock, Thomas’ sound is the perfect soundtrack to a misfit’s love story. Imagine the good memories that Sid and Nancy shared, the times not complicated by heroin or a murder/suicide pact. The moments that made you think, “damn, those punks are in love,” and you’ll hear Robert Earl Thomas playing in the background. His songs are slow and soaked in emotion, with delicate and intricate guitar work that causes your heart to drop and your mind to soar.

Catch Robert Earl Thomas play in Massachusetts this March and read the entire interview with him below.

BTRtoday(BTR): I’d love to know more about this most recent album Another Age. It feels so personal and emotional—what inspired it?

Robert Earl Thomas (RET): This is my first-ever solo record and it grew out of a time of transition and reflection. All the songs are about leaving behind my younger self and the physical places that served as my backdrop. I don’t know if I’ve even drawn any big conclusions, it’s just a series of scenes and memories that kind of get at the hue of that time in my life.

I was influenced by a lot of mid-tempo rock with synth touches—think Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” Destroyer’s Kaputt, and “Dream Baby Dream” by Suicide. As well as a slew of confessional and plain-spoken songwriters like Arthur Russell and Bill Callahan.

BTR: What do you want your listeners to get from this album?

RET: It’d be awesome if people listened to this record and it conjured up more generous memories of turbulent times in their lives. Like, looking back at an old relationship and knowing you’re better off without the person, but still smiling at the really good memories.

BTR: Why the album title, Another Age?

RET: That song was written after an eye-opening visit back to my once-home of Brooklyn and it just seemed right to make it the title track. Adele always names her records after her age, and I’m all about milestones, just the number isn’t important in this case.

Photo by Molly Hamilton

BTR: Do you have a favorite track on this album or one that the crowd seems to go wild for?

RET: I love “What Am I Gonna Do,” it’s my favorite song I’ve ever written. It’s really fun to close out sets with the guitar jam in “Cryin” as well.

BTR: What’s a typical music writing process for you?

RET: I come up with a song idea on the acoustic guitar, then I make basically a full demo trying different sounds and grooves. A huge portion of the record is just my demos dressed up.

BTR: Has your sound evolved?

RET: It’s all new. I guess I used to want to “rock” a lot more. Now, I’m more likely to hold back on tracks.

BTR: What should we be keeping an eye out for the future of your music?

RET: I’ve got this awesome band called The Sharper Image and we’re gonna be playing all around the northeast this spring. Already took a weekend trip to Philly, gonna go to Boston and Northampton in early March, Trans Pecos in BK and more to come after that. Also, I want to get the live band in the studio ASAP for a couple singles and then a full record.