Saturday, October 25, 2014

Exclusive interview with Singer Lillo Thomas

Lillo Thomas
"I’m In Love” Again 
By Vin Taylor
There are many talented singers out there, but Lillo Thomas has a unique voice that separates him from all the rest. Still going strong today as he did in the early 80’s. He took a few minutes out of his rehearsal day for his new tour to answer a few questions.

WTLE: “You grew up in Brooklyn New York. Is that what prepared you to become the talented vocalist you are today?”

LT: “Well, my dad was a preacher, so I always enjoyed singing. When I lived in Brooklyn, I went to Thomas Jefferson [high school]… I was running track. That’s the thing that I was very much into at the time.  Not knowing what I would do for a living… I just liked to run… I did a lot of competing… I set a worlds record when I was sixteen. I did… the Penn Relays and qualified for the ‘84 [Olympic] games.”

WTLE: “Wow… You are an amazing artist. I’m not talking about just singing. You’re an artist and an illustrator. A World Class athlete, who set and held records. You didn’t decide to make singing a career until you were around twenty. What was the turning point in your mind?”

LT: “I was already in college when I made that decision. I went to Parsons School of Design on an art scholarship… I studied for about three years… I enjoy singing. I always loved music. So I just decided, that’s what I’m going to do for a living.”

WTLE: “What made that click in your head?”

LT: “It just felt right. I actually went out on an interview to illustrate for this doctor that was writing a book at that time. I illustrated some bones in his office… I sat there for an hour and drew the bones. He said ‘Wow this is great; you got the job’… at that moment I was like… ‘I don’t really want to do this for a living’ and that was the tipping point for me. I just decided I’m gonna go out and go after the music… that was the deciding factor.”

WTLE: “You have some artwork on your website”

LT: “Yes, if you see the picture of the bones, that’s the picture I drew that day in the office. I love to draw… anything… I always find ways to just be creative… Cause when I get very sensitive about things, I just need to release and these were just the ways I released.”
 WTLE: “Speaking of release, you started your career with Capital Records. Releasing numerous albums, EP’s and singles. Then you stopped for a while. Why?”

LT: “I didn’t like the way the business was going at the time… I had what they called… a production deal… That’s the deal that doesn’t really come with all the bells and whistles… You would get a certain amount of records to sell and once you sell that out then it’s like you have to start a new album again (laugh)… I didn’t really feel like an artist. So I just decided… you know what… I had toured for years and I just got to the point that I forgot what I was out there for. I just felt like I was going and going and going and I just didn’t understand what I was doing this for… I needed a break. So I decided I should take that.”

WTLE: “So what did you do to keep yourself okay during that break?”

LT: Fortunately, I did a lot of really cool investments, I got into buying properties… I got into that real estate market when it was really hot… I had a team that would build homes and different things… I sold that. I got into the ‘Dot Com’ market when that was going on at the time. Everything turned out really well and then I decided I wanted to get back into the music industry after I took a breather… I went back to Capital [records], I bought all of my music back. I decided… I’m gonna do this the way I want to do it… starting the whole thing up again.”
 WTLE: “What was the motivation to pick up where you left off?
 LT: “Just getting my head clear of the people that I was around at that time, just getting people out of my life… having a chance to really think about… just doing this the way that I want… to just let myself expand… get out of that funk I was in. When you are with major companies… and it’s great to be on major labels, don’t get me wrong… when you have all these people in your life… you start to forget why you actually enjoy doing this because it becomes everybody else’s vision and not yours… I actually had a person tell me… the song didn’t sound Lillo enough… What does that mean?! Like how do I not sound like Lillo? I don’t know how to NOT sound like Lillo (laugh). So, its just things like that.”

WTLE: “So they heard you as a formula more than as a vocalist?”

LT: “Yeah, exactly. They even wanted me to change my name at one point, when I first started. They actually told me that ‘People wouldn’t remember Lillo’… They wanted me to call myself Leroy! Leroy Thomas… I would have been kickin’ myself right around now if I would have done that.”

WTLE: “ Here he is, Leroy Thomas with I’m In Love!”

(We both let out a big laugh)

LT: “They felt that Lillo… People wouldn’t know it… I mean, that’s my name, that’s the name I was born with. I probably wouldn’t have even responded if you called me Leroy. (laugh)

WTLE: “I could see all the screaming women now… Oh Leroy! Leroy! Excuse me out there if your name is Leroy… (laugh) So now… What’s it like to be on tour?”

LT: “It feels really good… I’ve been enjoying it. I started off in Belgium, I released an album in twenty ten called Come And Get It… It was great. People came out. I had an amazing time over there. Then I threw one of my own concerts here that was called The Sophisticated Gents cause my company got into promoting shows. On that show, it was sort of like paying tribute to the artists that was here before me… Like the Sam Cooke’s and all that… On that show I had Peabo Bryson, Howard Hewett and myself. It was really a great show… at the Bergen PAC Theatre [New Jersey]… So I just continued from there to throw concerts… I just like to be all in it. Last year… my company promoted a show… with En Vogue, myself, D Train with Cherelle… we had a great time… My company is also promoting this show with Jody [Watley].”
 Ticket for this show

WTLE: “For the young people of today who don’t know you or the people who have lived under a rock. Who is Lillo and what makes him tic?

LT: “Who IS Lillo? That’s a good question. I’m still trying to figure that out… I enjoy music, I love to sing, I love to just get in front of people and have a really great time… My thing is if I can touch one or two people with the songs I sing… that makes me really happy. I just like to create, I like to be out there and create things.”

WTLE: “So, what makes you sad?”

LT: “When I can’t understand why things can be so negative… I don’t understand why some people can just be negative for no reason at all. Not that there’ll ever be a reason to be negative, but at least have one… So if someone asks you why are you so mad, you’ll be able to say… well I stubbed my toe the other day and it’s swollen and it hurts”… It makes me sad to see people not living life… We get lost… with just knowing that this is a gift, to be out here and live and strive every day… to be the best person you can be. That’s a gift.”

WTLE: “When you go to your website you hear “I’m In Love” is that your theme song?”

LT: “Yes. That’s the song that I close all my shows with. That was the biggest song of all the songs… That song took me all over the world”

WTLE: “What’s next for Lillo Thomas?”

LT: “Next is… I‘m looking to do a new CD. I have a song on this Greatest Hits… called She’s Mine. That song was never out before so I put it on this CD… I’m looking to get into some more concerts, produce more concerts.”

WTLE: “If you could put five things in a time capsule, what would they be?”

LT: “Probably the “Lillo “ album… a piece of my artwork… maybe the bones… that was a pivotal time in my life… that point means a lot… lets see… one of my metals that I won… probably one of my t-shirts… it’s a Lillo T-shirt… one that I designed… probably some kind of interesting saying like… ‘If your gonna seize the island burn the boats’… Don’t leave yourself any excuses, don’t leave yourself any other options, you just go for it.”

WTLE: “What would you like to say to your diehard fans, your last statement to your diehard fans?”

LT: “The last statement! My goodness! (laugh) Do you know something? That makes me sound like I’m not gonna be around for too much longer (laugh) I don’t know… I always thank the people that enjoy my music, I appreciate them and I just want them to know that as long they keep showing up, I’ll keep trying to get there.”

WTLE: “This is great. Thank you for the interview.”

LT: “Thank you. Please let everyone know they can get my music on and they can reach me on Twitter as well 

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