INTERVIEW: THOMAS HINDS
A blues-based Americana artist at his core, Thomas Hinds has always been known for crafting songs that emanate from the heart, carrying within them a resilient optimism. His journey in the world of music began in the mid-'90s, gracing stages and festivals across the country, even making his mark on the hallowed center stage of the Ryman Auditorium. As life unfolded and responsibilities shifted, he stepped back from the spotlight, but his passion for music and storytelling endured.
Now, in a new chapter of his life, Thomas is poised to unveil his latest opus – a full-length album titled "Where Do We Go From Here." This collection of songs reflects a mindset deeply rooted in silver linings and an unwavering determination. Harkening to his signature blues-based Americana style, this album propels Thomas Hinds into new frontiers of soundscapes and emotional impact. The timeless aura of Muscle Shoals is unmistakable, adding an authentic layer that elevates his music to new heights.
We sat down with Thomas to learn all about the album, exclusively for FLEX.
Hey Thomas, welcome to FLEX! How are you doing?
I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I have always been a writer since I was very young, and then as a teen it turned into songs, a chance to play a couple songs at the Ryman Theater when I was about 23 or 24. I put that all away for about 12 years while I raised kids, then my journey began again in 2007 in an attempt to find my voice.
How would you describe your musical style and the genre(s) you're most drawn to?
Whenever I’m asked about my sound I usually say blues based Americana. I feel that is a fair description of what I do. I have always loved blues music and for me lyrical content is a must. I am drawn to songwriters and it crosses a lot of genres.
Your latest album Where Do We Go From Here feels like a seismic shift for you as an artist. Could you tell us about the inspiration and creative process behind it?
Thank you. I agree with you, everything about Where Do We Go From Here was me shooting the moon. That being said I would say if you listen to the progression of albums leading up to this one. The inspiration behind this album was the culmination of the last 5-6 years of my life. I had a huge transition from part time musician to full time and could feel the water getting deeper as I stepped out into the current. My creative process hasn’t changed much since I was 16 writing my first songs, it has only gotten streamlined after years of getting comfortable in my own skin and fully accepting my own voice.
Most of the time I am mentally chewing on ideas, letting them digest and then they usually find their way into songs. There have been several instances where I had no direction for the song to go and after it’s been fleshed out I start to see the theme reveal itself. Me and a guitar/piano, a notepad and pen. That is the beginning of the process. I have always been a “pen in hand” writer first and that will probably never change. I feel my flow is optimised with pen and paper, plus I get a better chance to edit as I type it later or after honing the songs on the road.
Could you share the inspiration behind the album's title and the themes that run through its songs?
The title for the album changed a few times over the preceding months. I knew what my common thread was with this collection of songs and then one day the track Where Do We Go From Here just personified the overall theme. To me it was documenting the life experiences that shaped my world over the last five years and in the end I am saying…ok, so where do we go from here? The overall theme of this collection is no matter the difficulties that arise in life we persevere, scars and all, and continue to take the leap into the unknown. We all have our stories of surviving times we never believed we would live through and yet here we are today, moving forward.
Can you tell us about your journey from the high desert plains of New Mexico to your current residence in northern Georgia? How has this change of environment influenced your music and songwriting?
In 2019 I hit the road coast to coast for the first time and after crossing it a few times, I noticed I had a high concentration of show in and near the northern Georgia region. I made a game plan to make that a place to be based on the sheer number of available places. New Mexico, especially the area I am from, never had much of a music scene to speak of. As scary as it was, leaving New Mexico in the fall of 2019 became the best decision I think I could have made. When everything started shutting down in 2020, Georgia was one of the first places to start booking shows again. I took the time off to hone the gifts I have been blessed with and wrote several of the tracks on this album during those three months off. As for the influence on my music and songwriting, I would say that it caused me to become a stronger songwriter and push myself out of my comfort zone quite a bit. There are so many great songwriters in northern Georgia who are starting to get some traction and that is what inspires better work, in my opinion. Being around better musicians and songwriters will either make you raise your bar or make you quit, haha.
You've had the opportunity to perform with accomplished musicians like Mr. Will McFarlane, who played with Bonnie Raitt. How do such collaborations enrich your musical journey, and how do they contribute to the overall texture of your performances?
Having the opportunity to work with Will McFarlane was a high watermark I will cherish the rest of my life. He is a wealth of knowledge, ideas and puts you at ease immediately. He was the session leader for this album and he had the knack for bringing my demos to a full 3D version of the songs. Everyone at Fame Recording Studios was top notch. From Spencer Coats who was the engineer and helped on producing this beauty, as well as mixing it. It was Will, myself, my brother in arms Brian Emmons with B Radical Productions (who the demos were done through) and three studio cats, Justin, Brad, and Andy. I truly believe that without THAT group of souls being in one room together cutting the basic tracks live together in one or two takes, Where Do We Go From Here would never have reached this level of top tier quality. As for the enrichment of my musical journey, it has been immeasurable in inspiring the next few projects I am currently working on…including an acoustic album with Will that is extremely dear to my heart.
And finally, are you looking to take ‘Where Do We Go From Here’ out on tour this fall?
Yes, I am definitely working on putting a road band together and sharing these songs across the country over the next year. I believe this album needs that and was built to be a full band experience. Where Do We Go From Here was lovingly moulded for a true encapsulating moment, a timestamp if you will that is available for a vinyl experience as well.
Stream Thomas' new album 'Where Do We Go From Here' now: