20 Questions

Kyle Thomas – Inspired by Country Music

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20 Questions is our opportunity to talk with various people in the country music industry.  Everyone from musicians and singers to public relations and concert promoters.

This month we talk to Kyle Thomas who released his self titled debut last year and was a WQMX Homegrown Featured Artist. He currently divides his time between Nashville and his hometown of Green, Ohio.

  1. Where are you originally born and raised?

“I was born and raised in Ohio. I grew up in a small rural community in Knox County until sixth grade when my family moved back to my parents’ hometown, Green, to be closer to my grandparents.”

  1. You went to college at West Virginia and were on the football team…what years were you on the team and what position did you play?

“I transferred from the University of Akron my freshman year, after intense rehabilitation from two back surgeries, to walk on the football team at WVU as a sophomore. I was a part of the team from 2012-2015. I tried out as a Quarterback, but moved to Wide Receiver halfway through my first season there.”

  1. How was it to be a part of such a great tradition of athletics and does any one moment stand out from your time on the team?

“Having the opportunity to be a Mountaineer was something I will cherish for the rest of my life. There were so many memorable moments being a part of that team, but the most impactful were when we went out and served the community. There were several times throughout the year when we would go to various hospitals and homeless shelters to either serve food or just visit. West Virginia has so much pride in the Mountaineers, because it is all they have. There are no other professional sports teams, so when you walk in wearing a jersey they treat you like a hero, which is a truly humbling experience. It always amazed me that these people going through so much, be it illness or financial difficulties, felt so grateful to meet us when all we did was play football. Running out into a stadium of 60,000 wild Mountaineer fans was incredible, but being able to positively impact the lives of others through a simple conversation is what stands out to me the most.”

  1. When did you first start playing guitar?

“Well, like most kids I couldn’t focus on anything for long amounts of time. I started out playing piano, then drums, then bass guitar, then trombone, and finally started taking electric guitar lessons in the seventh grade. I stopped taking lessons when I entered ninth grade, but I still picked up the guitar from time to time throughout high school. It wasn’t until I was asked to start leading worship at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at West Virginia that I started spending serious time with the acoustic guitar.”

  1. When was the first time you played and sang in front of an audience?

“My family tells me that I was always looking for an audience from the time I was a child. I always loved being in front of people and was very involved in choir, ensemble, and musical theatre throughout middle school and high school. I did several solo and ensemble competitions and played the lead role in a couple theatre productions including the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. I also sang and played in college while leading worship for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well as at some local churches. The first time I performed as a country artist was not until the summer of my junior year of college when I played in a garage at my friend’s graduation party. Humble beginnings you might say.”

  1. When did you write your first song?

“I wrote my first song my junior year of college. It was a ballad entitled “Let Me Love You” about a fictional spring break romance that turned into a life-long love.”

  1. How do you get motivated to write new material?

“Most of my motivation for writing comes from life experiences. The best songs arise form very real emotions that you expose in a way that allows listeners to relate to what you are feeling. Listening to other artists, especially since I’ve moved to Nashville, also motivates me. I have always tried to keep up with new music to stay current, but being down here allows me to hear so many songs that aren’t readily available. Going out to a writers’ night and hearing a great song from someone that’s doing the same thing I am inspires me to continue working to develop my own writing.”

  1. You had a song recently, “Red, White, and Bruised,” that you collaborated on with other songwriters. How is that song doing and where can people find it?

“I have been doing a lot co-writing since I moved to Nashville. “Red, White, and Bruised” was one of the first co-writes I had when came to town. It was actually a PTSD tribute idea that I came up with while writing with another popular Ohio artist, Tony Rio. I ended up finishing the idea with a couple of West Virginia boys, Doak Turner and Corey Hager. The song got some attention from Eric Church’s publisher, Little Louder Music, at a pitch to publisher night at the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and we are still waiting to hear about the possibilities for it. It is currently unavailable, but I have recently spent some time recording some new tracks in the studio that will be released some time in the spring, “Red, White, and Bruised” being one of them.”

  1. Do you have a favorite of the songs that you have written so far?

“Each of my songs means something to me, but I recently wrote a song called “Small Step for Man” with Johnny Drennan that I am especially excited about. It will also be released in the spring.”

  1. You released your EP last year. How was that experience, both writing and recording, and how did it do with your fans?

“Releasing my EP last year was a learning experience. It was a great opportunity for me to get into the studio and learn about the process of recording. There are so many things that go into producing a great product that I never knew about. All of the songs on that project were written solely by me and were not necessarily written with an EP in mind, but rather were just collection of some of my favorite songs I had written up until that point. I was lucky enough to experience the studio with the same band I play with live. It was a great time for us to bond and mess closer together as musicians and as friends. The EP was very well received by my fans. It didn’t take long before we had people in the crowd singing right back to us at our shows. That project was a great stepping stone to where I am going and I’m looking forward to releasing more music now that I have had some time to develop my writing and singing.”

  1. How long have you been playing with your backing band Big Machine?

“My first performance with the Big Machine was a little over a year ago. Although we haven’t been together long we have had the opportunity of performing at several great venues including Hard Rock Rocksino, Dusty Armadillo, Thirsty Cowboy, PBR Louisville in Kentucky, Schmitt’s Saloon in West Virginia, and several others. We were featured in the Indiana and Kentucky entertainment showcases at their fair conventions. A Universal Label representative also chose us as the winner of the Live Music Showcase at the House Of Blues Cleveland.”

  1. How did that band come together?

“The Big Machine is made up of Dan Majnaric (my father), Dennis Eggerton, Sean Lotz, Steve Faulkner, and Wes Porter. The credentials of this talented group of musicians ranges from opening for acts such as: Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Diamond Rio, David Allan Coe, Aaron Tippin, and Chris Cagle, being featured at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café, performing in Las Vegas Casinos, and touring parts of the world including the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tanzania and Israel, often performing on behalf of the US State Department as a “cultural ambassador” to people in those nations. I had known Dennis Eggerton as a close family friend for as long as I can remember. He coached alongside my Dad for my youth football teams. Dennis had been playing with several bands in and around the Mansfield area. When I told him I was looking for a band he brought us all together and we meshed really well from the start.”

  1. You moved to Nashville last year to continue your Country music career. How is being in Music City helped you grow as an artist and writer?

“Beyond being inspired by the history in this town and the other artists living here, Nashville has been very beneficial to my growth as an artist. There are so many opportunities here to network with other people in the industry. Having the opportunity to go out any night of the week and go to venues where you can see live music and build relationships with other individuals that share your passion has been a key part of my growth here. The amount of people willing to co-write in Nashville is another huge advantage that has allowed me to gain new perspectives on the process of songwriting. Nashville is also filled with experienced professionals that you can learn a lot from.”

  1. What are some of the things that have happened since you moved to Nashville?

“Since I have moved to Nashville I have been busy. Beyond networking, the majority of my time is spent co-writing. I have written with John King, Writer of Randy Houser’s “We Went”, at Starstruck Studios, Shelby Lee Lowe at Banner Music, and many other great songwriters. I have also been playing writers’ rounds and other shows in and around town. I started taking vocal lessons with Chanelle Guyton at Brett Manning Studios who has worked with many other talented artists including Chris Lane. I recently got in the studio and recorded some new tracks with James Cook, Kent Slucher, and Dan Cohen – James and Kent being best known for being Luke Bryan’s bassist and drummer respectively. I am very excited about what 2017 has in store!”

  1. What are some of the clubs and venues you have played in Nashville?

“Venues I have played in Nashville include: 12th and Porter, Pour House, Blue Bar, Tin Roof, The Stage, The Hilton, Belcourt Taps, and others.”

  1. Does any one thing stand out from the time you moved there?

“One thing that has stood out from the time that I have moved here is how productive you can be when you are surrounded by so many talented and experienced people pursuing the same passion you are.”

  1. What are your plans and goals for the coming year with your career?

“My goals for the coming year are to continue networking and improving my craft here in Nashville as a songwriter and entertainer, while also traveling back and forth to play shows with the Big Machine in Ohio and the surrounding regions.”

  1. Will you be coming back to Northeast Ohio anytime soon to perform?

“As it stands now, my next date back in Ohio is March 4 at Red Dog Saloon, but I am still in process of booking 2017.”

  1. What are some of your favorite venues to perform at in Ohio?

“The venue that is the most special for me to come play in Ohio is Thirsty Cowboy, because they were the first club to give me a chance when I started out. The crowd and atmosphere there always makes for a good night. Some other great clubs we’ve enjoyed playing are Dusty Armadillo and House of Blues.”

  1. Any message you want to send to your fans?

“I would just like to thank them for all of their support and let them know that I am working very hard to get some great new music out there for them. They can keep up with what I am doing down here in Nashville on social media @kylethomascountry.”

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