Thom Donovan performing with Lapush at the Duck Room in St. Louis, MO 2008.
|Birth name||Thomas Joseph Donovan|
|Born||July 24, 1974|
|Origin||St. Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, classical guitar, bass, piano, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Lapush, Rossi, Wyclef Jean, Ruby Amanfu|
Thom Donovan (born Thomas Joseph Donovan, July 24, 1974, in St. Louis, Missouri) is an American musician, songwriter and producer. He sings and plays guitar, bass and keyboards. He has released two solo albums and is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Lapush. His international performance career has included concerts across the United States as well as cities around the world, including London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Ennepetal. Donovan's music has appeared in various television shows on CBS, ABC, MTV, VH-1 and the Oprah Winfrey Network. He currently has a recurring role in the ABC musical drama series, Nashville, as a musician.
Childhood and early life
Of Irish/Italian descent, Donovan, the middle child of three children, was born in St. Louis, MO. His father's record collection (filled with Motown, Elvis and The Beatles) had a huge influence on Donovan as a child. Thom Donovan began playing guitar at the age of four. He grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in a suburb 25 miles west of St. Louis, MO. Donovan attended Catholic school. Although raised Catholic, he describes himself as an atheist and is outspoken in his support of teaching Evolution to children in school. As a child, Donovan was a fan of classical music and studied classical guitar under John McClellan (Luciano Pavarotti). Thom Donovan was educated at Lindenwood University where he graduated with a BA in Music. At Lindenwood, Donovan performed in a master class with Scott Tennant of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.
Early work (1995–2000)
While in college, Thom Donovan formed a duo with his brother, Stephen Donovan, called Elevator to a Penthouse. The duo's primary influences were Velvet Underground and the sounds of Motown; which the brothers had discovered in their father's record collection. An album, bigelectricheart, was recorded on 8-track, half-inch tape.
In 2001, Donovan formed Lapush with his brother, Stephen. Singing and playing guitar and working as the band's primary songwriter and producer, Lapush marked the first time Donovan would front a band on his own. In 2004, Lapush signed to 456 Entertainment (Fontana/Universal) and released their debut album, Someplace Closer to Here, in June 2005. Later that same year the band would make their television debut performing on Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC. The album featured the singles, "Aurora", "Quit You Now" and "Say Something". Songs from the album were featured frequently in film and television, including Moonlight on CBS as well as Laguna Beach and The Hills on MTV.
The band's second album, Modern Blues was released in 2007 and featured the singles, "Closer", "Run" and "Leave The Light On". Modern Blues was dedicated to the memory of Donovan's father who died in 2006 from pancreatic cancer. Donovan penned the song "Closer" for his father. Songs from this record were featured on several television shows. Lapush also performed with Nikka Costa, Matt Nathanson, The Sounds and Hot Hot Heat. Donovan produced and mixed both Lapush albums in his home studio, The Control Tower.
Solo career/Nashville (2008–present)
"I Love How You Love Me" was the first single released by Donovan in 2008. This is a cover of the 1961 hit originally recorded by The Paris Sisters and produced by Phil Spector. Donovan's first solo performance was opening for OneRepublic in St. Louis, MO on July 26, 2008. Cast A Light, Donovan's debut full length solo album was released on March 30, 2010 through his own imprint, Lapush Recordings. "September Glows", the final track from Cast A Light has been featured on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles and has also been featured on MTV. Songs from Cast A Light have appeared in television shows on MTV, VH-1, and Lifetime Network. Donovan celebrated the release of his first solo album with two performances at SXSW in Austin, TX on March 17, 2010.
Donovan composed music for Nettwerk/Revelry Music Group from 2010–2012. He currently writes for JMHB Music and Kobalt Music Group and resides in Nashville, TN. He released his second solo album, Mercury Maybe, on March 27, 2012. The first single, "Drive", was re-recorded and taken from the original Elevator to a Penthouse sessions. Donovan also collaborated with Ken Harrison and Roberta Carter-Harrison from Wild Strawberries on Mercury Maybe. Donovan and Harrison co-wrote "Division Street", "Liza", and "Still All Right". Roberta Carter-Harrison sang on "Drive" and "Still All Right".
Thom Donovan released his third solo album, Canon, on June 17, 2014 through AWAL. Donovan collaborated with Wyclef Jean and Ruby Amanfu on the album's first single, "Shipwreck". The video for "Shipwreck" was directed by Anthony Matula and features members of the Nashville Ballet. Donovan composed the lyrics for "Shipwreck"—inspired by Arthur Brooke and his poem, The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet (1562). The album was mixed by Grammy award winning engineer, Vance Powell.
In January 2012 Thom Donovan formed Rossi with Kendall Morgan. Prior to launching Rossi, the two co-wrote a song called "Overload," which Morgan released as solo material and was featured on CBS's The Good Wife. The group's first two singles, "Ossetia" and "War Within", were featured on My Old Kentucky Blog's radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Rossi's debut show was March 2, 2012 at The Basement in Nashville opening for Mona. "War Within" has been featured on Simon Raymonde's radio show on Amazing Radio in the UK.
Thom Donovan currently has a small role in the ABC musical drama series, Nashville, as the keyboardist in Avery Barkley's band. The show was written by Academy Award winner Callie Khouri. The series was picked up by ABC on May 11, 2012. Donovan appeared in 8 episodes in Season 1. During Season 2, he performed with Deacon Claybourne and Scarlett O'Connor.
Musical equipment and sound
Donovan has been credited with a unique sound and approach to the guitar. Rick Anderson, Allmusic comments: "Tout Le Monde" features what is probably the best six-note guitar solo ever recorded." Donovan cites a combination of traditional blues, classical and electronic music as sources for inspiration on the guitar. In an interview with Amplifier Magazine Donovan states: "The idea is to blend two things together that have no business associating with each other. I enjoy composing on the computer as much as composing with an acoustic instrument. I want to take sounds from the past and help push them into the future."
Donovan's songwriting owes much to the sound of Motown. Songs such as "Closer" contain the classic Motown beat. Donovan wrote "Closer" in memory of his father. His father was a huge fan of Diana Ross and The Supremes. Donovan found inspiration in the drum pattern from "Stop! In The Name of Love" as he wrote "Closer".
Donovan uses numerous effects to create his guitar sound, most notably a Digitech Whammy pedal. The guitars he uses live are a Gibson SG and Fender Telecaster outfitted with a Bigsby. Donovan's main amplifier is a Vox AC30.
Donovan's first major influence was the sound of Motown, which he discovered through his father's record collection. Donovan studied classical music for many years. His favorite composer is J.S. Bach. Donovan cites Leonard Cohen as an influence and covered La Complainte du Partisan ("The Partisan") on his album, Mercury Maybe. He is known to be a fan of artists such as English alternative rock bands The Smiths, Oasis, and The Verve. Donovan also cites Prince and Air as influences.
Film and television
Donovan's music has appeared in various films and television shows including: Body of Proof on ABC, The Good Wife on CBS, indie film, "Outpatient", Moonlight on CBS, The Hills on MTV, The City on MTV, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County on MTV, Drake & Josh on Nickelodeon and music for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Discography (Solo career)
- (2014) Canon
- (2012) Mercury Maybe
- (2010) Cast A Light
Albums & EPs
- (2007) Modern Blues
- (2005) Someplace Closer To Here
- (2003) an EP by Lapush
Collaborations & Session work
- (2013) Touring guitarist for Ruby Amanfu.
- (2013) Love Out Loud single by Ruby Amanfu. (Credits: co-producer).
- (2013) 1 EP by Sealt. (Credits: producer, co-writer).
- (2013) Your God single by Rossi. (Credits: producer, co-writer).
- (2012) War Within single by Rossi. (Credits: producer, co-writer).
- (2012) Ossetia single by Rossi. (Credits: producer, co-writer).
- (2012) Through Frozen Forests EP by Aaron Espe. (Credits: co-writer on "Turn") * Peak Chart Position: #5 iTunes UK singer/songwriter.
- (2012) Three by Aaron Espe. (Credits: mastering).
- (2011) Overload single by Kendall Morgan. (Credits: producer, co-writer).
- (2011) First Days Of Summer single (alternate version) by Carter's Chord. (Credits: producer)
- (2011) Again single (alternate version) by Carter's Chord. (Credits: producer)
- (2003) Untitled, Unmastered, and Unemployed by Stir. (Credits: co-writer, guitar). Recorded for Capitol Records.
- (2001–2002) Touring guitarist for Stir.
- (2001) nevertheless EP by Flynova. (Credits: guitar, writer on "You're Still Pretending").
- (1999–2000) Touring guitarist for British rock band, Fono. World tour with Goo Goo Dolls and Robert Plant.
- (1995–1998) bigelectricheart 8-track demos by Elevator to a Penthouse. (Credits: co-producer, co-writer).
- Protesting HB 368 anti-evolution bill in TN March 29, 2012. Twitter.com.
- Moonlight on CBS CBS.com.
- MTV artists Lapush MTV.com.
- Official Lapush website Lapush.net.
- Thom Donovan to appear at Live On The Levee with OneRepublic July 26, 2008. Songkick.com.
- Thom Donovan on Jonesy's Jukebox on KROQ January 30, 2011. kroq.radio.com.
- MTV artists Thom Donovan MTV.com.
- Writers Ink With New Nettwerk One/Revelry Joint Venture March 7, 2011. Musicrow.com.
- Tumblr Mercury Maybe — New release Thom Donovan March 27, 2012. Tumblr.com.
- Ruby Amanfu's solo Voodoo debut smoldered Saturday on the Flambeau stage November 3, 2013. NOLA.com.
- Nashville Cream Canon — New album Thom Donovan June 19, 2013 nashvillescene.com.
- I Think I Love It Blog March 20, 2012. ithinkiloveit.com.
- Today’s MOKB on SIRIUS XMU Blog Radio Playlist April 17, 2012. myoldkentuckyblog.com.
- Nellie Andreeva (May 11, 2012). "ABC Picks Up To Series '666′, 'Last Resort', 'How To Live', 'Nashville', 'Penoza', 'Neighbors', 'Zero Hour', 'Red Van'". Deadline. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
- Amplifier Magazine Someplace Closer To Here by Lapush (Review) August 19, 2005. amplifiermagazine.com.
- Lapush Homespun: Review of Modern Blues by Annie Zaleski July 4, 2007. Riverfronttimes.com.
- Oprah Winfrey Network Oprah.com.