Interview: The Drew Thomson Foundation
Posted: by The Editor
Drew Thomson proves he’s more than a one-trick pony with the release of his newest solo EP. Popularly known as the frontman of Toronto-based punk band Single Mothers, fans of Thomson’s work wouldn’t be surprised to know he also has an alternative-folk-inspired solo project under the moniker, The Drew Thomson Foundation.
Recently releasing his sophomore EP, Stay, through Dine Alone Records, he took some time to discuss the work at length. With no shortage of life experiences, Thomson is one of the most unique contemporary songwriters in the scene. Read our interview below:
What made you decide to pick this project up again?
Drew Thomson: I never really put it down I guess. I’m always writing songs and doing little demos in my apartment, I just don’t always release them. There wasn’t a conscious effort to shift gears into one thing or another. I just ended up with a collection of songs that I really liked and so decided to put them out.
Do you feel like your work in Single Mothers overshadows your solo endeavors? Do you ever get tired of being held to a certain standard?
Thomson: I haven’t put the effort into getting my solo stuff out into the world that I, as well as many others have, in getting Single Mothers out there. I also just haven’t done as much, so I don’t see SM as overshadowing this project, it just has a head start. I love both projects, though, just in different ways. I understand that people’s expectations are weighed by what you’ve given them, so I’m not tired of it. But like anyone, I’ve grown and will continue to grow and hopefully the music and bands grow with me.
Why is this EP important to you?
Thomson: This EP is the best thing I’ve done solo wise, it’s the most ‘put together’ and wasn’t recorded in a bedroom. “Stay” is also a very important song to me. I haven’t really written lyrics that close to me and put it out into the world, so it’s a nice feeling to have people say they like it or can relate to it. I don’t “try” a whole lot in music, I just kind of do what I do…but I guess I “tried” to make something good and different and personal with this EP, and so it’s important to me in that sense.
Many themes on the EP reflect, at times, an intense personal narrative. Seemingly revolving around love, loss, and indulgence. Are you ever nervous about sharing these kinds of emotions or are they more figurative?
Thomson: I learned a long time ago—people get what “they” want to get out of your songs, so if I write about something close to me, chances are someone else will not see that, but just what reflects back to them . . .and that’s good and how it’s supposed to be.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Thomson: Someone very close to me passed away while I was on tour in the UK with SM. I got the call literally minutes before I was supposed to go on stage at Reading and Leads festival. Having that happen and also getting sober were two big life shifts that inspired these new songs. I was a heavy drinker for years—getting re-aligned with myself took some time, understanding the difference between who were and who we are is, not always easy.
I know you’re probably tired of talking about it, but fans are intrigued to know… Can you tell me a little bit more about how gold prospecting influenced your decision to branch off into solo work? How did it affect your life in general?
Thomson: Prospecting is probably the most interesting and wonderful and awful thing I’ll do. It made me get out of my comfort zone, see life from a different perspective. Going from living downtown in a college town to the middle of nowhere 10 hours north just shook things up. It made me tougher, after a while it gave me a new confidence in myself. Being so secluded, there isn’t anyone to write songs with so I just wrote a bunch of songs myself. The band was pissed at me I think when I left. We had a bunch of shows booked. . .so I wrote alone and, yeah. It was a good time of my life which I reflect upon often.
My favorite song on the EP is, “Rifle.” What role does religion play in your life? Did you feel like you needed to break out of your small town in order to grow? Could you explain that experience?
Thomson: Being up North prospecting, I was in a lot of towns that seemed to be so behind the times, so. . .stagnate. A lot of the towns would have the church in the middle or on the highest hill so you could see the cross at the top from anywhere in the town. It would be the first and last thing you would see. A lot of the guys I worked with were in and out of jail, brought up in these small bubbles. The perception they had of anything different was so. . .I don’t know. . .unexpected. . .you couldn’t blame them, they only knew these small towns and jail and staking claims out in the bush.
I’m not religious, my grandparents were, but I think that’s as far as it goes down the line. These guys, though, often being through the 12 steps or just forced by social obligation or whatever, did seem to be men of god, in a way. It was a trip. One guy I worked with a lot went to jail for manslaughter twice, had a prison tat of angel wings on his back. Must have hurt. They looked like shit. He was constantly coughing up phlegm. Once when we were at camp he threatened to throw a 24 through my truck’s windshield because I said something about religion he didn’t like.
Many affluent songwriters seem to be very folk influenced, do you feel like this project is more true to your songwriting style than Single Mothers? Or do you feel like it is something different/incomparable?
Thomson: I have a few favorite songwriters that I absolutely love and they’re not really folk but they all carry that storyteller/singer songwriter vibe through their respected genres very well and that’s what I’m attracted to in a song. I don’t care what the genre is if the lyrics are good. All I want to do is not be boring, even just to myself. I’ve hidden a lot of personal little references just to make myself chuckle through different songs. I don’t think one project is more true than the other, lyrically I think they’re pretty similar.
What advice would you give fans who may feel confined or lost, battling maybe similar battles you’ve fought?
Thomson: I’m not a person that should be giving advice, but, I will say. . .sobriety can be surprising and I encourage anyone who is on the fence about it to give it a try. There will be an adjustment period, and chances are your social life will shift, but personally it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. If you need help, there are support systems and I encourage people out there to seek them out.
If you had to pick one thing for fans to take-away from this release what would it be?
These songs are important to me and I hope you find some entertainment value in them.
Any plans to tour soon?
Yes, but I’m not sure yet where or when.
Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie
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