It’s been two years since Bright Light Bright Light, also known as Rod Thomas, released his debut album Make Me Believe In Hope. In that time, the Welshman has moved to Brooklyn, recorded an album with pop collective Slow Knights (headed by Scissor Sisters’ Del Marquis), developed an indie following across the States and become friends with a certain pop music legend. We caught up with Rod in the weeks prior to the release of his sophomore album, Life Is Easy, and caught up on music, moving and Mr. Elton John.
You moved to New York after you finished your first album. Did your life there affect this new record?
The point of moving was so that it did affect it. I wanted new surroundings and stimulus to provoke new ideas and points of view, and I really found that in New York… I met a great circle of musicians who I exchange with—we sing for each other, write with each other.
You’ve been bouncing between solo records and recording with [Instinct fave] Slow Knights. That group is amazing! Is there another record happening?
Being part of a New York artist community really changed my life. For the first time ever as a musician I felt part of something, which I never found before. It’s a really uplifting and heartwarming thing to find. I love the fluidity of working in varying forms, numbers, guises … Yes there’s more coming from Slow Knights, we’ve been working on the second album. It’s definitely more like being in a party than when I do the solo shows, and for Slow Knights I’m not at the lead, so it’s a very new experience for me. I’ve co-written and produced Bridget Barkan (from Slow Knights) new single, which is out July 22. She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met—a real star and one of the most wonderful people.
What can we expect from Life Is Easy? We've heard some ballads from it, but there are actually some great summer bangers like “Good Luck.”
It’s an album full of hope and warmer tones. Even on the “bangers” I think the sounds are warmer, like on “I Believe.” The album shares a little about the people I met, the people I lost, finding a home thousands of miles across water and falling in love with making music again. But it’s about real things—people I love, my family and my new family.
Your last single is a duet with this unknown artist named…Elton John. Did you take a deep breath and say "Reginald, will you sing on my album?"
We’ve been friends for many years now after I joined the management company he owns, Rocket, back in 2007. He called after he heard my debut album, and we became good friends after realizing we had a lot in common—music we loved, sense of humor, outlook on certain things—and we talked about doing something together, so I played him “I Wish We Were Leaving” and he really liked it, so I asked him to sing on it and he said yes! I don’t think I’ll ever get over that fact.
Aside from your own tunes, what are two great songs for the summer of 2014?
“You Don’t Know What To Do” by Mariah Carey is MY SONG OF THE SUMMER. I’m completely obsessed with it and I’m very, very happy to hear her so full of energy. The album is, I think, my favorite of hers, and this song is just fantastic. Also, “Cobbler” by Kelis, partly because of the line I love: “You’ve got this feeling like a holiday,” but partly because it’s party-esque, laid-back vibe really makes me feel like I’m around a barbeque with lots of friends enjoying long summer nights. I love the Food record and go running to it all the time, and this song makes me smile every time.
Last year, you appeared in a book called 100 Beards 100 Days, so it’s no secret you’re a lover of bearded men. But really sir, are you prepared for the inevitable cultural shift to a smooth face?
No. I don’t think it suits me!
Life Is Easy is released on July 8. Check brightlightx2.com for tour updates.
(Photos by Alex Petch)