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Jefferson Thomas Gets Personal
New Single From Come Alive Album
By Shelly Rosen
(more articles from this author)
2006-06-07
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Artist: Jefferson Thomas
Title: ďUpdate AgainĒ/Come Alive
Genre: Alternative Rock
Format: CD
Label: MusicDish Evanworks
Website: Jefferson Thomas

[Shelly Rosen] So - ďUpstate AgainĒ - what exactly does that mean?

Jefferson Thomas I grew up in upstate New York, and I have a real love-hate relationship with it; every time I go back I swear itís the last time. I was gonna get married to my high school sweetheart, then I decided to sew some oats and go away to college. I wasnít real tactful or considerate about it, and that kind of devastated her. During finals week of my freshman year she somehow wrapped her car around a telephone pole in front of my folksí house, and didnít survive.

[Shelly Rosen]Ouch. Thatís pretty heavy.

Jefferson Thomas Well, something like that does tend to stick with you. I didnít really talk about it for a long time, much less assess it musically. Youíve got to be careful going to a place like that if youíre not ready, or youíll end up tumbling your whole house of cards. I was sitting around with an old hollow-body electric guitar last year, messing around with these old country records from the late Ď50s/early Ď60s. I got that over-the-top vintage reverb thing going on, almost a surf thing, and downed a bottle of wine, and the song just kind of tumbled out. I wasnít even trying to write a song; it was just this stream-of-consciousness thing, with a lot of inside references and haphazard things that probably donít make any sense to anybody but me and a few friends.

[Shelly Rosen]Yeah, itís almost kind of a narrative.

Jefferson Thomas I figured it needed an angle, so I decided - what if I kind of try to update her on whatís gone down since she left, you know? Like ďhereís what this dudeís up to, and this dudeís doing this, and were you watching when this happened?Ē Enough time had passed that I was able to go back and look at the whole thing from a detached angle, and just kind of ponder the whole thing. I couldnít have pulled that off if I had done this right after it happened; I would have been coming from too desperate and intense a place. Itís actually the lack of intensity that I think makes the song work; kind of a resignation or surrender.

[Shelly Rosen]You actually name names. Were the names changed to ďprotect the innocentĒ?

Jefferson Thomas Hell, no - nobodyís innocent! No, like I said, it was real stream-of-consciousness, real in-the-moment, and I think it works better that way. I think people can identify with names; they donít need to know who they are. They can project their own experiences into it, name their own names, you know?

[Shelly Rosen]Have you done the song live?

Jefferson Thomas Havenít worked it up with the band yet - thatís coming, but Iíve done it solo. In fact, I did it the other night solo on piano, which took on a totally different vibe.

[Shelly Rosen]How risky is it to play such a personal song like that live?

Jefferson Thomas I always write with a certain detachment, and this one is kind of matter-of-fact, which I guess is my defense mechanism against being too personal. I donít really let you in, you know? As far as it being risky, thatís more a case of it being a ballad, and if you donít make people give a shit from the first eight bars, you run the risk of losing them. And not just for the song, but maybe for the whole night.

[Shelly Rosen]Whose idea was it to go to radio with it?

Jefferson Thomas It was actually mine. Iíve got some things on this record that are certainly more pop, but Iím really liking whatís happening at triple-A radio these days; you can get away with things that arenít so formulaic. I figured this would be a slow-burn kind of thing, taking a while to develop, not getting tons of adds out of the gate you know? Iím too close to it, I know, but I sort of feel like this song suggests thereís a whole record that needs to be checked into, whereas everything is so single-oriented these days; youíve got all these acts with one good song and ten other tracks of filler. This song may not be the catchiest piece of candy, but it breathes, you know? I think thatís the real villain weíre all fighting against in music these days: instant gratification.

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