Bright Light Bright Light on touring with his idols, growing up in the Welsh Valleys and how Terminator 2 inspired his latest single

Few people get to meet their musical heroes. Fewer still get to support them on an 18-date UK tour.

For Welsh disco doyen Bright Light Bright Light (BLBL), aka Rod Thomas, the opportunity to tour with synth pop heavyweights Erasure marks the realisation of a childhood dream.

He said: “I love Erasure, it’s always amazing when you get to go on tour with someone that you like listening too as well. It makes it so much more fun. They’re some of the people I remember listening to since I can remember hearing music. They’ve just always been there.”

Since adopting his moniker in 2010, Rod has released three critically acclaimed albums, and feels his latest, ‘Choreography — which has already made the UK Independent Albums chart top 20 — is by the far the most fun he’s had to date.

He said: “The album is written about my love of cinema. I really love all the dance musical films from the 80s and 90s where the characters just break away from plot for 4 minutes to do a choreographic dance move to some song. It’s based on that kind of joyous moment in film.

“I wanted to write an album that could be the most fun that I could possibly have on stage. Like when I went on tour with Elton John. Now I get to go on tour with Erasure and make songs that move to the people which is what I wanted to do.”

New single ‘Little Bit’, also offers Rod’s own inimitable take on a loves song.

He added: “It’s very dramatic. I wanted to write a song that was a really over the top declaration of love. You know that scene in Terminator 2 where the women Sarah Connor is holding onto the railings and sees this vision and bursts into flames and burst apart.

“That’s the level of intensity I want. Where you’re all consumed and you fly apart because you’ve got so much love to give. That was the benchmark for energy of the song.

“It was maybe the second song I recorded with the saxophone and I loved getting to play that. It was something completely different from the album before. It’s my favourite song to play I think from that album live.”

Rod also believes passionately in the power of music, as a way to learn more about the world around him.

He said:“I’m kind of a music nerd. I grew up in the middle of the Welsh Valleys with nothing going on really so my link to life was cinema and radio.

“I used to tune in as often as I could to radio to learn about the world through what other people were singing. People like Elton John were constant from my childhood to my adulthood.”

He admits a lot of his inspiration comes from film, especially from the 80s and 90s.

“When I get so much inspiration from film it makes me think of different production styles than I normally would as well,” he said.

“I don’t want to keep repeating the same style of songs. I like to be a sponge. I like to research different sounds and things like that.”

His unique style is also enhanced by his ability to play instruments, including the saxophone, bass, flute and ukulele, despite having no formal music training.

He said: “I’m not really trained in anything. I taught myself piano from some early lessons from my great aunt.

“I took saxophone lessons like two years ago I think now, so that I could record my most recent album. I wrote the songs to be able to play sax on them.

“It’s just sort of being independent really, I’m one of these people who gets stuff done. Tracks that I’ve written with people, like Into the Night and Running Back To You, I added all the sax and the guitars and stuff that hadn’t already been played.

On his new album, he plays all the instruments apart from the drums.

“I do it all from scratch and then I wrote in one guitarist – my friend from Scissor Sisters did guitar on one of the tracks and I brought in some backing vocalists and then I did some saxophone. It was like you’re the skeleton and then you add little bits to it, like a live drummer to give it a real feel.”

On advice that he would give new musicians starting out, he said you should made something you’re proud of.

“Just think about what you want to achieve, think about your own career. You should really try and make something that makes you so excited to take it on the road, or so excited to play it to someone you know.

“A lot of producers work with the same people. I don’t want people to see me trying to sound like stuff that’s just come out. If you try and emulate something, by the time you get to play it to anyone the fad has been and gone.

“Try and do something which is at least has your own little twist on it. Make it something you feel so thrilled to go on stage with. I made this. That’s the most rewarding thing.”

So, what’s next for a man who admits he always needs to be busy?

He concluded: “Always the same, make a new album, touring, I DJ a lot. I do that when I’m not on the road and I’m not in the studio or collaborating with other performers. I did music for Mark Gatiss’ monologue series on BBC 4 last year.

“I’m hopefully doing more TV work as well, I always have a billion projects on the go.”


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