FridaysUpdate: Radio ready? Thomas 'won't back down' at Fridays
As he rode around Charlottesville alongside his dad, a young Will Thomas heard the iconic voice of rocker Tom Petty and immediately saw his future.
"The thought of people riding around and singing my songs appealed to me," Thomas explains. Years later, the frontman for the Will Thomas Band is now trying to live out that destiny.
The rocker, now 24– "and totally available," he adds– started that dream from scratch. After begging for a drumset at the age of four and later a guitar at six, he played "little kid hangouts" and tagged along with local bands My Dog Lucy and Earth to Andy in the late 90s. Becoming a little brother of sorts to the older rockers, Thomas managed to navigate his way through the music scene until he found his pop-rock niche.
His band is composed of a group of local rag-tag musicians, all old friends who love to rock: bassist Derek Cason, guitarist Wally Worsley, drummer Gre Briar, and recently added keyboardist Joseph Mills. It's a close-knit brotherhood– "I'm very band-oriented," Thomas says– that looks to bring "good rock 'n' roll" back to a town that has been straying too far into bluegrass and experimental music, according to Thomas. Conveniently enough, the Will Thomas Band sounds like 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, and most of the bands that have been spun to death by mainstream rock radio.
"I'm not taking anything away from the art bands," says Thomas. "But we want to bring back good rock music that has hooks you can sing to, tap your foot to, hum in your head for the next week– music that makes you feel good."
If Thomas truly wants his pop-oriented, rock-based music to rule the airwaves, he's certainly chosen a solid path. If you ask anyone if they've heard of the local rocker, they'll likely drop his name next to that of American Idol star Chris Daughtry– not just because the two have a similar sound, but because they became friends years before Idol shot Daughtry to fame. Daughtry even extended an invite to write together to Thomas.
"It's really good having them helping me a lot on so many different levels," says Thomas.
The rest is history, Thomas hopes, and soon to be hitting a radio near you. A full album is slated for release this winter. Meanwhile, at a July show at iS, the band played several singles from their first EP, This Is Your Life, before jumping into a Tom Petty cover. Obviously living out one's dream doesn't come without tribute.
The Will Thomas Band plays Fridays After Five on 8/21. Gunchux opens. The show starts at 5:30 pm and admission is free.