It’s always refreshing to come across an artist who takes something familiar and makes it their own. Enter Tommy Simmons. This guitar-playing singer-songwriter is turning heads in a land where the story of “boy meets guitar” is over-told. Perhaps you’ve seen him playing around town; you could have seen him when he headlined the Crocodile, or it’s possible that you caught him supporting local acts Allen Stone or Cody Beebe and the Crooks. Maybe you’re planning to see him open for Tyrone Wells at Neumos on March 24th. In any case, you should make a point to get familiar with Mr. Simmons and his infectious tunes.
Tommy Simmons, a Washington native, is an independent artist with a few tricks up his sleeve. Apart from playing some high-profile shows, he has been hard at work recording his first full- length record (due out later this year). He started working on his self-funded project, a follow up to his 2009 release EP of Acoustic Awesomeness, in 2010 and has taken nearly 2 years to complete it.“We started tracking June of 2010,” Simmons explains. “We tracked in chunks, basically so I could pay for it… I didn’t take out a loan or anything. I would just save up five hundred bucks a month and then every couple of months we’d hit the studio. That’s how I was able to afford it. ” During the recording, Simmons was connected to producer Mikal Blue (known for his work with artists such as Colbie Caillat, OneRepublic, and Five For Fighting) and has been working alongside him to finish the record.
Simmons is a self-starter in more ways than one. If you listen to the intro of the song “San Diego” off of his EP of Acoustic Awesomeness, you wouldn’t know that he is a self-taught strummer, having had just a handful of lessons since he began playing the guitar ten years ago. His style seems to draw from classical and modern influences, and the range of his abilities is well represented on this particular song. Just when you finally wrap your head around the guitar, the vocals come in. What I find absolutely hypnotizing about Simmons’ music is his unique take on enunciation and rhythm. His words are breathy and expressive, leaving a hint of thoughtfulness that hangs on every pause.
I was very fortunate to be able to sit down with the talented Mr. Simmons and pick his brain a bit.
Tommy Simmons’ thoughts on…
“I book myself. I kind of manage myself. I’ve been approached by people before, and I’ve approached people before, but I’ve never found that perfect fit. I’ve picked a lot of brains about management and a lot of the advice I’ve gotten from people I trust have all said ‘Let somebody find you.’ It’s an investment.”
…headlining the Crocodile for the first time.
“ [Headlining the Crocodile] was huge for me. It was a big deal, I was really nervous. This was me. This was my face on the poster. Seeing people actually coming out and supporting, bringing their friends, singing along to songs I haven’t even released, it was just… it was cool. ”
…why taking so much time to record was a good thing.
“It gave me time to digest everything. I’d listen to it in its bare bones form and be able to visualize and figure out a game plan for the track, how to fill each space in the song.”
“I write everyday, it’s like therapy. I don’t have to force myself, I just have to write. I just have to pick up my guitar. I get antsy if I’m not able to.”
… opening up for Tyrone Wells on March 24th at Neumos.
“I used to book acoustic shows and I booked Tyrone Wells. He was just doing a duo with him and his drummer Mark Chipello. That show really opened my eyes to the singer-songwriter. It was inspirational. I’d played guitar at that point for about four years, but I never sang or wrote music, so it definitely opened me up to a whole new world. I’m pumped.”
Catch Tommy Simmons playing with Tyrone Wells at Neumos on March 24th! It’s going to be a stellar show and I highly recommend purchasing advanced tickets here.
Tyrone Wells w/ Tommy Simmons and special guest Joe Brooks
Doors 7pm :: Show 8pm
Tix $16 :: All Ages, Bar w/ ID