Interview: Leigh Thomas bakes mesmerising earworms in an infectious guitar-driven soundscape
24.01.2022

Interview: Leigh Thomas bakes mesmerising earworms in an infectious guitar-driven soundscape

Leigh Thomas
Words by Talia Rinaldo

‘Higher Low’ is a mesmerising earworm baked in an infectious guitar-driven soundscape.

After serving up a collection of poppy mashups of guitar-based, melodic rock over the past few years, Melbourne based singer-songwriter and guitarist Leigh Thomas is back in full force with the captivating new single, ‘Higher Low’.

Earning himself a solid career and reputation within the local music scene over the years as both a solo artist and as a key member in various bands, perfecting his natural talent on national tours, pub circuits, and triple j radio, Thomas has been progressively making creative strides in each of the past few calendar years.

“I had been playing on the cover scene for quite a few years, both in bands and solo, and being a full-time working musician was all I ever wanted out of life,” he explains. 

“But I have always been a creative person, and at some point, it started feeling like a job, and I began to feel pretty empty. I made the decision to get back into writing and hoped to gradually transition my live work over to my own material.

“Then the pandemic struck, which really forced my hand, almost to a “do or die” situation. If I was going to continue with music (and I don’t know how to do much else!), and not get paid for it, then I would go full steam into creating, improve the process, and find out who I really am as an artist.”

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Using the past two pandemic-induced years to his favour, thanks to a slew of consistently improving, sonically rich and always-engaging singles, Thomas has certainly showcased plenty of promise with the release of his latest single – and the first for 2022 – ‘Higher Low’.

Simply stated, ‘Higher Low’ is a melodic pop-rock earworm that captures you right from the start. Over three minutes and 44 seconds, Thomas has filled his music with plenty of likeable elements, flawlessly executing sophisticated and upbeat guitar pop with rootsy undertones that leave you satisfied yet desperate for more.

These elements include soaring soft-rock vocals; exciting drum-and-guitar-heavy beats; transcendent hooks; a monumental chorus; and a candid examination of fear – fear of failure, fear of success and fear of letting others down.

Sprinkled with lashes of country elements within the vocals and guitar lines, a peppering of harmonic complexity and compositional intrigue to draw in both layperson and aesthete, ‘The Light’ is an impressive, forward-thinking and refreshing take on modern pop, putting musicality front and centre.

Woven together nearly with smooth and wildly atmospheric production from Thomas’ son Sam (of Pretty Bleak), ‘Higher Low’ is a powerful, upbeat anthem laced with darker undertones. “You better climb one rung at a time / Don’t you slip don’t lose your grip / Should I lose mine,” Thomas wonders, sea-sawing between a positive and negative state of mind that Thomas penned about the challenges and opportunities he’s faced as a musician over the past two years.

“There is definitely a struggle going on in this song between negativity and positivity,” Thomas explains.

“Understandably, most people are probably sick and tired of references to the pandemic, myself included, so I did not want to directly refer to it, but no doubt my experiences over the last two years will come out through my music.

“For me, it has been quite paradoxical, whereby my life as a live musician has abruptly ended, yet throwing myself completely into developing my writing, and the whole process of producing and releasing my own music has been a really positive way of channelling that energy.

“So for me, it has been a constant to and fro between falling into negativity and clawing my way up to a positive state of mind. And that ultimately affects the people around me.”

Despite the darker undertones of disempowerment and fear of abandonment, the song’s uplifting and optimistic qualities ultimately rise to the surface as it concludes on a high.

Released on Friday, January 21 2022, the process in bringing ‘Higher Low’ was relatively quick for the artist, having only written and recorded the track at the very tail end of last year formed under a foundation of influences stretching from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, to T-Rex, Nirvana and old school Top 40 tracks; ensuring listeners a tasting platter of sound.

“The chorus melody woke me in the middle of the night, and I jotted the basic idea down. I then play around with it on acoustic guitar and really let the song write itself. The general mood of the melody, the rhythm, and a few random lyrics dictated the themes and structure of the song. I then worked it over several drafts until it was ready to demo, then record.”

Musically rich with his son Sam on drums, bass and synth, the beauty in this latest release is that Thomas intends to push the boundaries of his dynamic, chameleon-like sound with each new release. With an affinity for pop and rock, his ever-evolving sound ranges from heavy and beat-driven, to softer and sometimes poignant ballads all rooted in strong, instantly engaging melodies and sounding uniquely like Leigh Thomas.

Drip-feeding singles to fans over the past two years, Thomas’ discography currently comprises 14 singles which is more than an album worth of songs, but he spread it out in a way that people were able to grasp onto what he was doing. Rather than working on an album, he’s instead given the music time to breathe, earned a spot on our music radar.

“An album would be great, because it allows you to experiment a little more, but I have fallen into a pattern of releasing singles on a six-to-eight-week basis, and I think that better suits the way people listen to music currently.

“I’ve been working hard to build an audience by constantly releasing material, performing live stream shows, procuring radio airplay etc. and that has been working very well for me, so for now I will stick with that process.”

With releases packed with lighters-in-the-air magic, Leigh Thomas already proved himself a powerhouse – and one we’ll be paying extra special attention to in 2022.

Keep up to date with the latest from Leigh Thomas here. Listen to his music here