Gone Solo: Owen Thomas

So, your favourite band breaks up and the lead singer says, “It just feels like […]

So, your favourite band breaks up and the lead singer says, “It just feels like time. I probably won’t make music again without these guys.

Then 2 years later, he releases a solo album. What’s up with that?

That’s what has happened with the band The Elms and lead singer Owen Thomas. But, he has a good excuse for ‘breaking his word’. Before I let him explain, let me give you a quick back ground on The Elms.

Before they broke up in 2010, this band of brothers and best friends from Indiana had been together for 10 years. I’ve been following them since their first debut album, The Big Surprise, which kicks off with a very 60s inspired “Hey Hey”.

Their next album, Truth, Soul, Rock and Roll, was one that didn’t catch me on the first listen but, since became one of my favourite albums. Not only is the title perfect but the songs are just timeless, mid-west Rock and Roll.

What I haven’t mentioned yet, is that these were all released on a Christian label (Sparrow). And while their music did ‘cross over’ in many ways (they toured with Peter Frampton!) they were considered a “Christian Band” and, therefore, overlooked by many. And that is a shame because The Elms was an intelligent and musically talented group. Owen Thomas, lead singer, and Thomas Daugherty, guitarist, are two of the most thoughtful people I’ve met.

The band decided to leave the “Christian” music label. The lyrical requirements the label wanted to impose just wasn’t for them and they felt more comfortable in front of the Frampton crowds than the Newsboys crowds.

Eventually, they were signed to Universal South Records. They released the album The Chess Hotel, left Universal and released The Great American Midrange independently.

The Great American Midrange became their most successful record, entering the Billboard Heatseekers Chart at #18 in October of 2009. The song “Back to Indiana” was used during ABC’s television coverage of the 93rd Indianapolis 500 motorcar race and was named official theme song of the 2010 Big 10 Men’s College Basketball Tournament.

Despite the success, in June 2010, the guys announced they were calling it a day: “The time has come to move on.” I knew that Thomas Daughtery went on to play back up guitar for The Band Perry while Owen Thomas, as far as I knew, was working in film production or some sort.

When it was announced November 27th that Owen had made a solo album, I was a little bit surprised. But here’s what he says:

I never intended to make music outside the context of a rock band. Quite honestly, I spent nearly 18 months feeling like music was something I might never return to, and I was okay with that. […]
But when life gives me things to write songs about, you’ll never guess what happens. Indeed.

Owen says that the album, Languages or Get Dark and Find Yourself was birthed out of spectacular occurrences of the last two years:

Some were wonderfully joyous, and others totally disastrous. Many principles that I’ve held as the most stable in my life regarding love, faith, destiny, and family were challenged.

And my heart… got smashed-up, full-on broken.

I got dark. I really let myself feel the things that were happening. […]I decided that I had to properly hurt before I could properly heal. It was an experience of the deepest kind of discovery. It was brutal. And it changed my life.

OK. I should really just stop long-quoting him and point you to his whole letter regarding his solo album. CLICK HERE http://www.hiowen.com/languages.html

With little fanfare and next to no pre-promotion, the whole album is out now, available in hard copy or digitally… just follow the link above!

Here’s another one of the singles. It’s called “Travel Through.” Check it out. Let me know what you think. – LM