New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ Jefferson Thomas Official Website)
After spending most of 2008 and 2009 slogging it out in his van supporting his "Western Front" release, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jefferson Thomas
was burned out, and found himself taking a self-described "working vacation" by lending his talents to other artists. "I guess my name got around a little. Dave Diedrich, Matthew Foster-Moore, and a few others heard the work I'd done on my own releases and hired me, and suddenly I was a 'producer'. I wasn't exactly comfortable with that title at first, but after spending a year and a half playing anywhere and everywhere, toting your own rock day after day, you get sick of the sound of your own name. This was a great diversion, and totally rejuvenating. It got me excited about making music again, and it's actually more challenging not being the boss."
Throughout 2010 and into 2011, while hard at work helping others shape their visions, Thomas
kept writing. With the pressure on someone else to unleash their own masterpieces, he could relax on his own material, creating for creation's sake, without a deadline. One day, he was surprised to find that he'd gradually cranked out over twenty new tunes that were keepers. It was Diedrich who, upon hearing that, first suggested a double-release. No one was more dubious of such a heady idea than Thomas
"I said 'I can't do that!' You figure only huge household names can get away with something as presumptuous and arrogant as a double-record. Then I thought, well, that's because those folks are usually the only ones who can afford to do it, but I have more than enough music, and I can afford to do it. And hell, I am presumptuous and arrogant! (laughs). So then it became a question of how to go about it, and how to position it. What approach makes the most sense? What's the angle?"
The "angle" turned out to be a pragmatic solution to the one nagging problem; all the songs didn't fit together, but they did seem to fall easily into two distinct camps. "I had some rootsy and twangy stuff which was a lot of fun, and then I had a bunch of darker stuff that rocked harder. They weren't radically different, like Gregorian chant vs. Goth-polka or whatever, but there were definitely two clearly-defined houses, and each song's impact was ultimately better served by having it live in the right one."
As a joke, and in deference to his favorite habit of browsing through his father's classic vinyl collection, he began using "Side One" and "Side Two" as working titles for the two groups of material. "I fully intended to come up with actual titles for each one, but as the work progressed, two distinct lyrical moods also emerged . It was like side one and side two of me. I decided we should make them look exactly the same, like a collector's set, but in different colors; red and black, like a roulette table. Someone at one point suggested I call them 'The Red Album' and 'The Black Album,' which sounded incredibly pompous to me. Yeah, right. When you outsell the Beatles
someday, you can do that."
"Side One" is loose, boozy roots-rock and alt.country. Its songs feature characters straight out of a Bukowski barroom. "Side Two" is the more ambitious of the two, musically and production-wise, with moody string arrangements here and there and a few cinematic cross-fades. The characters in these songs are caught in the very real recent American landscape of crippling economic woes and the bleak aftermath, and they don't really ever make it out. Some kill, some die, some run drugs and guns, and the ones left standing avoid the mirror in the morning. Thomas
laughs when he sums it up. "I guess the first one is about my demons. The second one is about your demons."
The two records will be released as separate entities about three months apart; Side One debuted in early January, and Side Two hits the street in April. A combined twin-disc version bundled with exclusive content (videos, bonus tracks, etc) will be available late in the year. Thomas
will tour extensively off them, with dates in the U.S. through the late spring and summer and overseas legs in the fall and winter. "Well, it's a double-dose of new music to push, so it's not like we'll be taking the winter off to go hibernate in the studio and come out with something new, like we usually do. Damn, what have I done?!"
Information is available at the artist's website: