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An interview with musician Larry Thomas.


Submitted:Apr 14, 2008    Reads: 105    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Ask a Musician
Rosa Arlotto talks to Larry Thomas pedal steel player
Rosa: Larry tell me about yourself
Larry: Born in Toronto I grew up in Northern Ontario. I moved back to Toronto after High School.
My parents were English/Welsh , first generation. Thomas is a common Welsh name. A bachelor, I
Live with a cat named Henry.
Rosa: Favorite musicians?
Larry: Jeff Beck, guitar player, works up north
Rosa: What kind of music are you most interested in?
Larry: The sort of music that interests me is the stuff I am involved in.
Rosa: When did you become interested in music?
Larry: As long as I can remember.
Rosa: What musicians have influenced you most and why?
Larry: Jeff Beck, quintessential flash guitar player, master of touch and tone. Paul Franklin, when I was first starting out showed me the pick blocking style which has totally influenced my style of playing and always will. And Jake Thomas because he's great guitar player and family.
Rosa: Did you go to school to learn to play?
Larry: I'm totally self-taught.
Rosa: What are you currently working on?
Larry: Big picture: The C Diatonic scale based steel guitar tuning, of which I am one rare exponent. I see myself as leading edge to this tuning revolution. That's a continuous exercise for me. I work with a Toronto based group, the Shovels, doing live shows. We're working on a new CD. Plus live shows with Tottenham based Clean Fill Wanted, plus various solo projects. We, the Shovels & I, are on a promotion tour for the newest CD- Devil's Music.
Rosa: Any other recordings?
Larry: With local commercial artists. A John Cage piece commissioned by his estate. A commercial for West Jet.
Rosa: Do you have a stage name?
Larry: Todd, the Shovels' lead calls me Electric Lazer Larry and I've been flirting with the Steel Sheik, but no, not really.
Rosa: How long have you been playing?
Larry: Forever man, since I was a kid, my first professional engagement at eighteen. At High School I booked the dance bands, and even before, played myself at them. As soon as I was old enough to get into bars I played bar gigs. That was where the money was in those days. I spend my youth touring Northern Ontario.
Rosa: What purpose do you think music serves.
Larry: I see music as a very personal thing: it effects each of us differently, depending on our state of mind, mood etc. I can hear a song one day and if affects me one way and the same song affects me in totally different manner the next. That being said music is what motives me, without it I would have nothing, mere words cannot sum up its total effect on me. When I'm on playing I am in an altered state, near Nirvana, the zone…. that's my "happy face". Getting there is pretty tough though, you have to be playing with right people and they all have to be in the "groove".
Rosa: So it has been a rewarding experience!
Larry: I have to say , in relation to reward, no, I'm not being rewarded. It's a personal satisfaction. Though saying that, every time I play publicly , people come up to me and comment on the effect my playing has on them . Because I do play differently and they hear that. I'm different to the norm, That's why I get that. And of course there's my instrument. My steel guitar has nine pedals and eight knee levers. These effect and affect tonal changes with the tuning itself. Giving me a whole body experience too. The pedal steel involves the whole body to an an extent other guitars don't. It is dauntingly complex, requiring a multi-track
progression.
Rosa: Might you make a distinction between the musical as a recorded experience and it as "live"?
Larry: No, not really. Novelty demands impermanence.
Rosa: What do you say to the idea that music in the last decade or so has become narrowed down to a familiar sound range? How does that impact on you as a creative soundsmith? Or does it?
Larry: I just go where I go. Do what I have to to make it work.
Caption to photo : Larry Thomas plays steel with the Shovels. 2006, Sorauren Festival
Ask a Musician
Rosa Arlotto talks to Larry Thomas pedal steel player
Rosa: Larry tell me about yourself
Larry: Born in Toronto I grew up in Northern Ontario. I moved back to Toronto after High School.
My parents were English/Welsh , first generation. Thomas is a common Welsh name. A bachelor, I
Live with a cat named Henry.
Rosa: Favorite musicians?
Larry: Jeff Beck, guitar player, works up north
Rosa: What kind of music are you most interested in?
Larry: The sort of music that interests me is the stuff I am involved in.
Rosa: When did you become interested in music?
Larry: As long as I can remember.
Rosa: What musicians have influenced you most and why?
Larry: Jeff Beck, quintessential flash guitar player, master of touch and tone. Paul Franklin, when I was first starting out showed me the pick blocking style which has totally influenced my style of playing and always will. And Jake Thomas because he's great guitar player and family.
Rosa: Did you go to school to learn to play?
Larry: I'm totally self-taught.
Rosa: What are you currently working on?
Larry: Big picture: The C Diatonic scale based steel guitar tuning, of which I am one rare exponent. I see myself as leading edge to this tuning revolution. That's a continuous exercise for me. I work with a Toronto based group, the Shovels, doing live shows. We're working on a new CD. Plus live shows with Tottenham based Clean Fill Wanted, plus various solo projects. We, the Shovels & I, are on a promotion tour for the newest CD- Devil's Music.
Rosa: Any other recordings?
Larry: With local commercial artists. A John Cage piece commissioned by his estate. A commercial for West Jet.
Rosa: Do you have a stage name?
Larry: Todd, the Shovels' lead calls me Electric Lazer Larry and I've been flirting with the Steel Sheik, but no, not really.
Rosa: How long have you been playing?
Larry: Forever man, since I was a kid, my first professional engagement at eighteen. At High School I booked the dance bands, and even before, played myself at them. As soon as I was old enough to get into bars I played bar gigs. That was where the money was in those days. I spend my youth touring Northern Ontario.
Rosa: What purpose do you think music serves.
Larry: I see music as a very personal thing: it effects each of us differently, depending on our state of mind, mood etc. I can hear a song one day and if affects me one way and the same song affects me in totally different manner the next. That being said music is what motives me, without it I would have nothing, mere words cannot sum up its total effect on me. When I'm on playing I am in an altered state, near Nirvana, the zone…. that's my "happy face". Getting there is pretty tough though, you have to be playing with right people and they all have to be in the "groove".
Rosa: So it has been a rewarding experience!
Larry: I have to say , in relation to reward, no, I'm not being rewarded. It's a personal satisfaction. Though saying that, every time I play publicly , people come up to me and comment on the effect my playing has on them . Because I do play differently and they hear that. I'm different to the norm, That's why I get that. And of course there's my instrument. My steel guitar has nine pedals and eight knee levers. These effect and affect tonal changes with the tuning itself. Giving me a whole body experience too. The pedal steel involves the whole body to an an extent other guitars don't. It is dauntingly complex, requiring a multi-track
progression.
Rosa: Might you make a distinction between the musical as a recorded experience and it as "live"?
Larry: No, not really. Novelty demands impermanence.
Rosa: What do you say to the idea that music in the last decade or so has become narrowed down to a familiar sound range? How does that impact on you as a creative soundsmith? Or does it?
Larry: I just go where I go. Do what I have to to make it work.
Caption to photo : Larry Thomas plays steel with the Shovels. 2006, Sorauren Festival
Ask a Musician
Rosa Arlotto talks to Larry Thomas pedal steel player
Rosa: Larry tell me about yourself
Larry: Born in Toronto I grew up in Northern Ontario. I moved back to Toronto after High School.
My parents were English/Welsh , first generation. Thomas is a common Welsh name. A bachelor, I
Live with a cat named Henry.
Rosa: Favorite musicians?
Larry: Jeff Beck, guitar player, works up north
Rosa: What kind of music are you most interested in?
Larry: The sort of music that interests me is the stuff I am involved in.
Rosa: When did you become interested in music?
Larry: As long as I can remember.
Rosa: What musicians have influenced you most and why?
Larry: Jeff Beck, quintessential flash guitar player, master of touch and tone. Paul Franklin, when I was first starting out showed me the pick blocking style which has totally influenced my style of playing and always will. And Jake Thomas because he's great guitar player and family.
Rosa: Did you go to school to learn to play?
Larry: I'm totally self-taught.
Rosa: What are you currently working on?
Larry: Big picture: The C Diatonic scale based steel guitar tuning, of which I am one rare exponent. I see myself as leading edge to this tuning revolution. That's a continuous exercise for me. I work with a Toronto based group, the Shovels, doing live shows. We're working on a new CD. Plus live shows with Tottenham based Clean Fill Wanted, plus various solo projects. We, the Shovels & I, are on a promotion tour for the newest CD- Devil's Music.
Rosa: Any other recordings?
Larry: With local commercial artists. A John Cage piece commissioned by his estate. A commercial for West Jet.
Rosa: Do you have a stage name?
Larry: Todd, the Shovels' lead calls me Electric Lazer Larry and I've been flirting with the Steel Sheik, but no, not really.
Rosa: How long have you been playing?
Larry: Forever man, since I was a kid, my first professional engagement at eighteen. At High School I booked the dance bands, and even before, played myself at them. As soon as I was old enough to get into bars I played bar gigs. That was where the money was in those days. I spend my youth touring Northern Ontario.
Rosa: What purpose do you think music serves.
Larry: I see music as a very personal thing: it effects each of us differently, depending on our state of mind, mood etc. I can hear a song one day and if affects me one way and the same song affects me in totally different manner the next. That being said music is what motives me, without it I would have nothing, mere words cannot sum up its total effect on me. When I'm on playing I am in an altered state, near Nirvana, the zone…. that's my "happy face". Getting there is pretty tough though, you have to be playing with right people and they all have to be in the "groove".
Rosa: So it has been a rewarding experience!
Larry: I have to say , in relation to reward, no, I'm not being rewarded. It's a personal satisfaction. Though saying that, every time I play publicly , people come up to me and comment on the effect my playing has on them . Because I do play differently and they hear that. I'm different to the norm, That's why I get that. And of course there's my instrument. My steel guitar has nine pedals and eight knee levers. These effect and affect tonal changes with the tuning itself. Giving me a whole body experience too. The pedal steel involves the whole body to an an extent other guitars don't. It is dauntingly complex, requiring a multi-track
progression.
Rosa: Might you make a distinction between the musical as a recorded experience and it as "live"?
Larry: No, not really. Novelty demands impermanence.
Rosa: What do you say to the idea that music in the last decade or so has become narrowed down to a familiar sound range? How does that impact on you as a creative soundsmith? Or does it?
Larry: I just go where I go. Do what I have to to make it work.
Caption to photo : Larry Thomas plays steel with the Shovels. 2006, Sorauren Festival




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