Mick Thomas

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Mick Thomas
Mick Thomas 1.jpg
Thomas performing at the Ebberley Arms, Barnstaple, May 2007
Background information
Birth name Michael James Thomas
Born (1960-02-07) 7 February 1960 (age 54)
Yallourn, Victoria, Australia
Genres Folk rock
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1975–present
Labels Croxton, Liberation
Associated acts Southern Aurora, Never Never Band, Acrobats, Where's Wolfgang, Trial, Weddings Parties Anything, Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing, Roving Commission
Website mickthomas.com
Notable instruments
Maton: "Tommy Emmanuel's guitar"

Michael James Thomas (born 7 February 1960, Yallourn) is an Australian singer-songwriter, producer and guitarist. Thomas was the founding mainstay of a folk rock group, Weddings Parties Anything (1984–1998), and leader of Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing. He has also released material as a solo artist.

Biography[edit]

Michael James Thomas was born in Yallourn on 7 February 1960 and is the middle child of three.[1] His older brother, Steve, was later a playwright.[2] Their father, Brian Darvall Thomas (2 February 1925 – 12 September 2003), was a World War II naval veteran (23 April 1942 – 17 July 1946) and an electrical engineer with the State Electricity Commission.[1][3][4] Brian's family were from Tasmania and his wife, Margaret, was from northern Victoria. They met in Melbourne after Brian returned from his war service.[5]

He served in the Pacific with the Navy during the war. He was in Japan shortly after the nuclear blast on Hiroshima. He was one of those blokes who never left Australia again. He had a normal life after the war but I'm sure his dreams were full of those things.

—Mick Thomas, [5]

The family moved with Brian's work, from Gippsland to Colac, Horsham and then Geelong. When Thomas was 15, in Geelong, he started playing folk music, initially as a solo artist. He was a member of Southern Aurora, and from 1978 to 1980 in Never Never Band which issued an independent single, "It Doesn't Mean Anything".[6][7][8] Other members of Never Never Band were Brolga, Archie Cuthbertson on drums, Wendy Harrison on bass guitar, and Joe Nadoh on guitar.[7][8] In 1981 (at age 21) he moved to Melbourne[5] where he fronted a 1960s pop revival group, The Acrobats, from 1982 to 1983.[6][7] He attended university and completed an arts degree, with majors in history, literature and sociology.[1] With Cuthbertson other members of The Acrobats were David Adams on drums, Joe Colarazo, and Chris Dyson.[7] He spent two years in the local pub rock scene first in 1983 in Where's Wolfgang with Adams and Dyson joined by Shane Day; and then in 1984 in Trial.[6][7]

Weddings Parties Anything (1984–1998)[edit]

In late 1984 Mick Thomas (lead vocals, lead guitar and bass guitar) formed the first version of folk rock band, Weddings Parties Anything with former band mate Adams (ex-The Acrobats, Where's Wolfgang).[6][8][9] By 1985 they were joined by Mark Wallace aka Squeeze-Box Wally on piano, accordion and backing vocals. Their debut four-track extended play, Weddings Parties Anything, appeared in December 1985.[8][9] It included two of "the band's early live classics", "Summons in the Morning" and "Roaring Days": both written by Thomas.[8][10][11] In April 1987 the group issued their debut studio album, Scorn of the Women, which reached No. 52 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.[8][12] Eight of the twelve tracks were written solely by Thomas, with another track, "The Infanticide of Marie Farrar", adapted from the poem of the same name by Bertholt Brecht.[8]

The band released further studio albums, Roaring Days (April 1988), The Big Don't Argue (October 1989), Difficult Loves (July 1992), King Tide (October 1993), Donkey Serenade (1995) and River'esque (September 1996) – with most of the material written by Thomas – before disbanding in December 1998.[6][8] Thomas later explained his reasons for the split "[w]e weren't going anywhere, commercially or artistically ... Some nights you don't want to play 'Father's Day' or 'A Tale They Won't Believe'. People want them. I had to apologise for playing something new".[1] The group had toured both nationally and internationally – they became popular in Canada and parts of United States.[6][8] Fellow Australian musician, Paul Kelly, described touring with Thomas' group "[w]e did a lot of shows with The Weddos ... and had all-night singalongs with them ... and at afternoon barbecues in lead singer Mick's big backyard down by the river ... We liked a drink and weren't shy about it, but The Weddos made us look like ladies at a tea party".[13] He noted that Thomas' musical influences were The Pogues, Fairport Convention, Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson.[13]

Two of their singles, "Father's Day" (May 1992) and "Monday's Experts" (September 1993), appeared in the top 50 on the ARIA Singles Chart;[14] both are written by Thomas.[15][16] During their career they won four ARIA Music Awards – 'Best New Talent' (1988), 'Best Indigenous Release' (1989, 1990) and 'Song of the Year' for "Father's Day" (1993).[17] According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, the band "united two great Australian music traditions: post-punk pub rock and folk/bush balladry".[8]

Solo and the Sure Thing[edit]

Mick Thomas wrote a play, Over in the West (1996), a country rock opera, which was performed at the Playbox Theatre.[8] The official cast soundtrack was released the following year.[18] In June 1999 Over in the West was performed at the Maverick Arts Festival, with Thomas also contributing the role of Mr Robert, leader of a pub rock band.[8] The play was described in McFarlane's Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop as a "gripping saga scanning an entire continent, two hotels and a pinball machine".[8]

Following the demise of Weddings Parties Anything, Thomas embarked on a solo music career. In 1998 he issued his debut solo album, Under Starter's Orders: Live at the Continental, which was recorded during various solo performances from 1997 to 1998, while still a member of that group.[18] Allmusic's Aaron Badgley was impressed by the audience participation "wonderful to hear the audience know ['Step in Step Out'] and to hear the pride in Thomas's voice".[18] Aside from his own material Thomas is also a record producer and engineer for other artists.[8] In March 1998 he produced the debut album, Fisherman’s Daughter by Perth-born singer, Kavisha Mazzella.[7][8] In January 1999 he supported a tour by Elvis Costello.[8] In October that year a track, "Our Sunshine", co-written by Thomas and Kelly appeared on the Paul Kelly and Uncle Bill album Smoke.[13] In 2010 Kelly recalled working with Thomas "Mick was the right person for the song I hand in mind. We'd played and sung together often and shared an interest in folk music and Australian history. I had the beginnings of a melody, a few lines and, most importantly, a title – 'Our Sunshine' ... Mick and I knocked off the song by lunch".[13] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2000, Thomas was nominated for 'Best Blues and Roots Album' for Under Starter's Orders.[19]

By mid-1999 he formed The Sure Thing as his backing band, with Darren Hanlon on guitar, mandolin and harmonica; and Rosie Westbrooke on double bass.[7][8] About this time he started the now defunct label, Croxton Records, with his friend Nick Corr, a radio DJ and music journalist.[20] By the end of that year Michael Barclay (ex-Weddings Parties Anything) joined The Sure Thing on drums.[7][8] Mick Thomas and The Sure Thing's debut album, Dead Set Certainty: 12 Songs That Wouldn't Go Away, appeared in October 1999 on Suitcase Records / Croxton Records.[7][8] Badgley compared the release to his earlier work with Weddings Parties Anything, he found it was "not as melodic, and more of a rawer sound ... but not altogether different".[21]

On 12 March 2001 the group's second album, Dust on My Shoes, appeared; it was co-produced by Thomas with Jerry Boys.[7][22] Badgley declared this to be Thomas' "best album so far ... he is truly a gifted and sensitive storyteller/writer ... [providing] a collection of short stories outlining the vulnerability and failings of the human race".[22] Their next album, The Horse's Prayer, was issued on 3 March 2003 as a 2× CD.[7] Thomas promoted the release with a national tour from February to May that year.

Another play, The Tank (2004), was co-written with his older brother Steve.[1][2] On 18 March 2006 Thomas appeared on SBS-TV's music series, RocKwiz, which included his solo performance of "Away Away" and a duet with Mazzella covering The Human League's 1981 single, "Don't You Want Me".[23] On 12 March 2007 he released another album, Paddock Buddy, on the Liberation Music label.

In 2011 he reunited with former Weddings Parties Anything band mate, Wallace, to form Roving Commission. In February 2012 Thomas issued a solo album, Last of the Tourists, which had been recorded in Portland, Oregon with Darren Hanlon producing.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Mick Thomas is married to Jen Huntly, they live in Northcote.[5] Thomas is a part-owner of the Yarra Hotel in Abbotsford.[1] In 1993 or 1994 he bought a Maton guitar which he dubbed "Tommy Emmanuel's guitar" as it had been manufactured for the guitarist of the same name – he wrote a track, "Tommy Didn't Want You", in honour of his guitar.[25] His father, Brian, died on 12 September 2003, aged 78, of motor neurone disease.[5][25]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Wedding Parties Anything
Solo
  • Under Starter's Orders: Live at the Continental – Croxton (CROXT001) (live album, 1998)
  • The Tank – Croxton (CROXT020) (14 June 2004)
  • Anythings, Sure Things, Other Things – Liberation Blue (BLUE0722) (13 August 2004)
  • Last of the Tourists – (22 February 2012)
Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing
  • Dead Set Certainty: Twelve Songs That Wouldn't Go Away... – Croxton (CROXT004) (October 1999)
  • Dust on My Shoes – Croxton (CROXT007) (12 March 2001)
  • Live Dust – Croxton (CROXT009) (2001)
  • The Horse's Prayer – Croxton (CROXT014) (3 March 2003)
  • Paddock Buddy – Liberation Music (LIBCD8220.2) (12 March 2007)
  • Spin! Spin! Spin! – Liberation Music (LMCD0047) (17 April 2009)
Mick Thomas and Dan Warner
  • Five Bells – (1999)
Mick Thomas and Michael Barclay
  • A Head Full of Road Kill – Croxton Records (2010)

Extended plays[edit]

Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing
  • Something to Fight For – Croxton (CROXT018) (2003)

Production work[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ a b c d e f Starkie, Andrew (6 June 2013). "Mick Thomas: Interview". Time Out Melbourne. Time Out Group Ltd. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Weber, K. E. (14 September 2011). "The Tank Interview with Craig Ryan". Theatre People. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Digital Copy of Item with Barcode 4510604". National Archives of Australia. 4 February 2004. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Handbook of the Swinburne Technical College * 1964 (PDF). Swinburne University of Technology. p. 177. Retrieved 1 August 2013. "Thomas, Brian Darvall ... Electrical Engineering (1955), Mechanical Engineering (1955)" . Note: this PDF contains 198 pages.
  5. ^ a b c d e Johnston, Chris (18 December 2006). "Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Nimmervoll, Ed. "Weddings Parties Anything". Howlspace. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Holmgren, Magnus. "Michael Thomas". Passagen.se. Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 10 March 2004. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u McFarlane, 'Weddings, Parties, Anything' entry. Archived from the original on 23 August 2004. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  9. ^ a b Holmgren, Magnus; Clarke, Gordon; Love, Jim. "Weddings Parties Anything". Passagen.se. Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "'Summons in the Morning' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "'Roaring Days' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  13. ^ a b c d Kelly, Paul (21 September 2010). How to Make Gravy. Camberwell, Vic: Penguin Books (Australia). pp. 40–41, 352–359. ISBN 978-1-926428-22-2. 
  14. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discography Weddings Parties Anything". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "'Father's Day' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "'Monday's Experts' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "26th ARIA Awards: Search Results 'Weddings Parties Anything'". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c Badgley, Aaron. "Under Starter's Orders: Live at the Continental – Mick Thomas". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "26th ARIA Awards: Search Results 'Mick Thomas'". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  20. ^ Mulcaster, Glenn (21 May 2002). "No more pure-play Internet please". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Badgley, Aaron. "Dead Set Certainty: 12 Songs That Wouldn't Go Away – Mick Thomas". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Badgley, Aaron. "Dust on My Shoes – Mick Thomas". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "Episode 27 – Mick and Kavisha". RocKwiz. SBS on Demand (Special Broadcasting Service). Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Mick Thomas' Roving Commission". Government of Victoria. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Dawson, Dave (3 June 2012). "Mick Thomas Feature". Dave's Diary. Nu Country. Retrieved 2 August 2013.