While relatively new to many ears outside the greater Mid-Atlantic region, Tom McBride is no stranger to the underground Americana scene throughout the country – starting first in the blue collar acoustic grit of Boston to the bright Southern lights of Nashville. As evidenced by history, however, the path to true inspiration is not straight. McBride’s new effort, A Brief Head Spin, is his third release, yet ultimately, the record he wanted to make for the past decade.
Tom spent a stint in Nashville checking out the scene and working on his songwriting before moving to Washington, DC. However, it wasn’t the politics of Nashville’s glossy country industry that led to McBride’s relocation – but rather, the attractive job market of Washington, DC. Tom and the band moved to the nation’s Capitol to find work and find themselves in a geographically central location on the east coast. Life got in the way, as it’s wont to do, and within eight months Tom discovered himself off the stage and “pitching 55 years old lawyers on commercial real estate and feeling down on my music.” While McBride excelled in the day, Tom’s true unequivocal passion was relegated to merely his spare time, whenever applicable. Six years of the daily grind ensued until a personal tragedy re-prioritized his life. “I was in the process of releasing my first solo EP when my father passed away, and that pretty much was the kick in the ass I needed. I had a lot of self-doubt for a few years there about performing music, most of it just fear based, and it was that permanent reminder that life is short, that got me over the hump really. I had been writing a lot, but years passed and I had nothing to show for it.”
Tom McBride followed up his staunchly DIY debut, 2008′s Headed For, with an emotionally cathartic full-band effort, Like a Lion, in 2009 under the billing Tom McBride & The Whig Party. Like a Lion became the release that put Tom on the radar outside the DC acoustic scene, sharing bills with the likes of Dawes, William Elliot Whitmore, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, Futurebirds, and Ellis Paul among others, performing in prestigious rooms like New York City’s Mercury Lounge and Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, and an award for “Dear James” from the Mid-Atlantic Songwriters Association.
However, A Brief Head Spin comes full circle with McBride’s original vision, acting as Tom McBride’s truly definitive statement of where he came from and where he goes from here. For the first time, Tom McBride had access to a professional studio to record a wholly solo effort. “My previous work incorporated many styles within a full band. This new record is filled with what I love the most – guitar, voice, melody, and intimacy.” For A Brief Head Spin, McBride enlisted production help from long-time friend Sean Greenhalgh of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Grammy-award winning engineer Stuart Sikes behind the board, best known for his work with Cat Power’s The Greatest and Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose.
For the title, McBride found inspiration in Irving Stone’s Lust for Life, the novel based on Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo. “The creative process can certainly be an isolating experience and I have found that I often pull energy and ideas just from reading about and studying other creative peoples philosophies and approach. ” McBride said he spent time digging into the creative processes of painters like Van Gogh, Rothko and Cezanne, as well as his musical touchstones like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. “Van Gogh’s journey is a tragic one of course and he was in many ways the first, modern ‘tortured artist.’ But anyone that has faced the challenge of creation can certainly have moments where the walls move so to speak. I think you have to lose yourself a bit to get to the good stuff.”
It’s this wisdom that rings undeniably true for Tom McBride. Becoming removed from the distinct world of music bolsters the appreciation one has for unbridled creativity, harnessing it into rugged, inspired, urgent songwriting. A Brief Head Spin is the result of rediscovering what’s important and not making compromises, reflected through a prism of poignant, crafty Americana.
Check out Tom McBride's Website
All downloads are for personal, non-commercial use.
All rights are retained by the artists