Exclusive Artist Interview: Tom Hanson | Performing June 26th at Bar Nine

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Tom Hanson is a versatile acoustic musician and songwriter from Rhode Island.  His debut EP “Amphitheater” was released in December 2016 and is available on iTunes, Spotify and most other music platforms. “Amphitheater” explores a multitude of genres including folk, pop, rock and country over the span of it’s five distinct tracks. His music blends the lyrical and melodic stylings of James Taylor and Ed Sheeran. Blues legend, James Montgomery states “He’s one of the best solo acoustic acts I’ve ever seen!” 

In July 2017, Tom had the distinct pleasure of playing in the Xfinity Center VIP tent with Nickelback and Daughtry as the headlining acts

In anticipation of his live show with us on June 26th at 8PM, Tom was nice enough to email from his home base in Rhode Island to discuss his new album, his musical influences and to discuss what inspires him on a day-to-day basis

BAR NINE: What type of band are you?
TOM HANSON: I am an independent singer/songwriter. Most of my music falls under the genres of Alternative, Folk, and Rock

BN: Tell us the brief history of your band
TH: I started doing music full time during the summers while I was still at college. Since graduating in 2016, I've been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to play on cruise ships, release an EP, play in arena VIP tents, and join a vast network of other fantastic musicians through playing in a wedding band

BN: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
TH: My biggest influence for the past few years has been Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls. I think he's an incredible songwriter and he puts on one of the best live shows I've ever seen. I strongly identify with his music and I think he's just a great human being aside from his music. He's the kind of person and artist that I want to emulate. The world needs more artists like him

As a solo artist who uses a loop pedal, I have to believe that Ed Sheeran's music has also had an influence on me. So has Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Harry Chapin, Dave Matthews, Muse...just to name a few

BN: What are your dreams and goals?
TH: I want to be a full time musician. I want to pay my bills with my voice, my guitar, and my songs. Whether or not that comes with fame doesn't matter too much to me. I know quite a few independent musicians who do music full time, have a family, and still write, record and perform regularly

I would like to put a band together sometime soon. If I'm being honest, I don't want to be a solo act for the rest of my life. I think having just a guitar and vocals on stage is very sonically limiting

BN: Who writes the songs, what are they about?
TH: I write the songs, haha. Most, if not all of my songs, are written from an autobiographical point of view. I try very hard to write about things that I can relate to and hopefully other people can too. Most of the inspiration comes from my own experiences. You've gotta write about what you know, ya know? 

BN: How do you promote your band and shows?
TH: Frequent social media posts on facebook and instagram, flyers, word of mouth, texts messages to friends, sometimes I'll sponsor my posts for bigger shows. Through all of that I usually get a pretty good reach and response. The new algorithms online have made it more difficult to reach some people. It also doesn't help that musicians of my generation have to compete not only with other events nearby, but we have to compete with services like Netflix and Hulu that keep people entertained for months on end in the comfort of their own home

BN: Describe your show, visual and musically
TH: My show is interactive, fun, and hopefully entertaining. I try to throw in some covers that people wouldn't expect to see done by a solo guitarist. If you do it well, you gain their attention and respect and hopefully hold it for the rest of your set. But the biggest concern for me is always the music. If I have a night where people paid to come out and see me and I didn't play well, I feel like I didn't do my job right. They don't pay to see me fuck up, they come out to have a good time, listen to good music, and forget about the stress of their lives for a few hours. That's the kid of show I aim put on every night

BN: What do you think about downloading music online?
TH: I think it's a great way for artists to get their music into a bigger market. I still buy songs and albums by artist that I like, but if it weren't for things like youtube and Spotify I might not have found these artist's music at all! There should be a better way for artists to get paid fairly from the hits they acquire on these streaming services, but ultimately I think that getting more music into more ears across the world is good for artists and good for music

BN: What's your outlook on the record industry today?
TH: To make a very long answer short, they need more real instruments on records. I want to hear more bands on the radio, fewer pop stars in my humble opinion

BN: What's your claim to fame?
TH: James Montgomery, a legendary blues musician who lives not too far from me, once said that I'm one of the greatest solo acts he's ever seen. That was pretty damn cool. I didn't think it was an accolade I deserved at the time. But it's a great distinction that I want to continue to live up to

BN: Tell us a story about a day in your life
TH: This is a tough one to come up with a really interesting answer for. I have a part time job in a music shop that I go to 4 days a week and I try to practice at least two hours a day, whether it be via a performance, an open mic, or strictly private practice or composition. I'm my own manager, my own booking agent, my own publicist on social media, my own website designer, my own roadie, sometimes my own sound engineer, and then after doing all that I play the show of course. It can be very overwhelming at times, but I just have to remind myself what my ultimate goal is and set smaller ones along the way to help me achieve it

BN: What inspires you to do what you do?
TH: Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life, and I love playing music. I enjoy writing good songs too, but to me there's no feeling better than performing on stage.

Plus, with music there's always going to be something to practice, or learn or get better at. It all depends on how good you want to be and I think that's incredibly humbling and liberating

BN: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
TH: Don't wait around for gigs or opportunities to come you way and always be true to who you are

BN: What are some of your pet peeves?
TH: Drivers who go 10 mph under the speed limit. Drivers who don't use blinkers. Out of tune instruments. Stepping on legos... you know, the usual

BN: How does music affect you and the world around you?
TH: Music is just a combination of sound and time, but music helps us discover who we are and has the power to bring people together like no one else can

BN: What's new in the recording of your music?
TH: I'm thinking more and more about band arrangements for both a live and studio setting for my newer material. I hope to have my next project started by the end of this year

BN: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
TH: I think too many bands get caught up with this idea that their music has to be overly complex of different. Some songwriters get too caught up with trying to write the next American Pie or Hotel California, and that kind of pressure can be detrimental to your creative output

BN: What's the best and worst thing about playing clubs?
TH: The best part about playing anywhere for me is just performing in and of itself. I guess the worst part for me would be the blinding lights. Some people find blinding light to be comforting because they can't see all the faces in the crowd. But I want to be able to see the people I'm connecting with! Plus they honestly make me sweat up a storm, haha!

BN: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
TH: I've got quite a few big shows coming up in June that I'm really excited about. I'll be playing 2 sets at the Strand in my home city of Providence, RI; one solo set, and one as a bandmate for my friend, Lainey Dionne. The Strand, formerly Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, is one of the biggest venues in RI aside from the Dunkin Donuts Center and it's going to be a real thrill for me to play there. Possibly the biggest crowd that I've ever played my own music for

I've also got 3 shows coming up at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA. I'll be playing in the VIP tent for guests in between the sets on the main stage and it's always a blast. Plus, I get to watch the concert as well! Last year I got to play for Nickelback and Daughtry and this year I'm going to be playing when 30 Seconds to Mars, Weezer, Pixies, and Dave Matthews Band come to town. So I'm very excited to get back there this summer!


Steven Padernacht