Thomas of The Retinas – Interview

Photo Credit: Ashley Cordoba

Philadelphia, PA – East Coast rockers The Retinas are busy these days- from writing and performing music, to gearing up for a tour, to planning an album release, things are happening for them! But front man and guitarist / pianist Thomas took some time to answer some questions about everything the band has going on (including a release show on November 15th that everyone in the area should definitely check out)!

First off, tell us your name, pronouns, where you’re from, and a little bit about what you do! 
Thomas, he/him, Philadelphia. I play in The Retinas, I am lead vocalist, guitarist and pianist.
What made you pursue music? Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
I’ve always been interested in art. From as my earliest memories I remember drawing and coloring. In grade schoool I used to make comic books as well as write books that’d I’d illustrate. When I got a little older I got really into poetry and after being introduced to Rock N Roll bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix I started playing music.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
I think my biggest influences are Pixies, The Replacements, and The Strokes.
What do you want people to get out of your music?
The hope is that our music connects people. Music has always been significant to me because it was one of the first things in my life that gave me a sense of home and not feeling alone. Listening back to artists sing about their experience with loneliness, sadness, happiness, whatever it may be, made me realize other people were feeling the same way I was and that was really significant to me. I think giving words to experience that people can relate to is invaluable and hopefully it’s something we can do.
You said you’re from Philadelphia, how has the city influenced your writing?
Philadelphia is the best city. It’s a city where people from the city still live here. It’s a city that has history from the birth of our country, it’s a city that has it all. Its fast paced and tough, and beautiful and ugly. It has an incredible art scene from having the most amount of murals in the country to the booming music scene. I think it’s influenced us in that it gave us the opportunity to be ourselves in our music. There’s no “philadelphia” sound, it’s just a garden of individual artists trying to come out and I think everyone here feeds off of that creativity. 
Has there been a stand-out moment for you as an artist where you felt extremely proud, passionate, excited, or anything like that? Anything that made you think ‘yeah, this is worth it’?
We’ve had the opportunity to play with some awesome artists such as The Districts, Together Pangea, Potty Mouth and those are some really cool moments. I think the proudest most validating moments are just those shows where we all sync up with each other and the crowd. When people reach out after or during the performance and just let themselves go and connect, I think that’s what everyone in the band lives for. 
Musicians face a lot of challenges, from rejection to financial expenses to writer’s block. How do you stay positive while dealing with the negative parts of making music?
I think that’s part of the game is staying positive. If it’s something you’re truly passionate about you’ll withstand the negative aspects of it. It’s about finding a way to make it work and enjoying it in the process. Music is fun because its a challenge, it’s like writing a new language. If it didn’t have that aspect I don’t know if we’d be as interested in it. 
Besides making music, what else do you like to do? Any special talents?
Andy has a video production company that specializes in music videos and live sessions for artists. We all help with it. It’s called Big Mouth Philly. I do the sound Andy does the shooting/editing and Anthony does some camera work as well. 
Do you feel more at home in the studio during the recording process, or do you prefer playing live shows?
Either or. I think recording is a more consistent home because its not as dependent on crowds, but both have their high. Recordings great because we’re putting together our puzzle and figuring out how it works. Live shows are great cause we’re presenting it to the world and feeding off the energy of people as they feed on us to create this one of a kind experience. 
Speaking of live shows, is there a particularly awesome performance you can remember? Anytime you walked away and knew you just nailed it?
There’s a couple of performances I can remember. The most recent one was our show in Norfolk, VA last tour at Charlie’s American Cafe. We were 2nd on a 4 band bill and the crowd was still a little stiff, and we just hit it and synced up and got the room. It was a really fun show.
What’s next for The Retinas? Do you have anything in the works?
We have the next record written, we’re going to tour on this one for a while and start recording the new one in between this tour and our next tour in February/ March.
What’s the #1 reason why everyone should check out The Retinas?
Because it’s genuine. From every part of the process, it comes from a real place with real people who really mean it. 
Any last words you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for having us on here!

You can catch The Retinas ON TOUR this month at any of the dates listed below! The band’s self-titled record comes out everywhere on October 25th (but you can pre-order it here) and make sure to stay up-to-date on everything happening with the band by following them on Facebook and Spotify!

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