Grey Tickles, Black Pressure and Bright Light: An Interview With John Grant and Rod Thomas

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Many of you have just had the chance to see John Grant on tour with Bright Light Bright Light (aka Rod Thomas) all over the U.S. and, no matter where you may have caught these two along the way, you got to be part of something very special.

I caught up with John and Rod just before their Portland stop on the tour. Read our chat, check out photos from the show by Disclosure Images and watch some music videos below.

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Logan Lynn: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, guys! I'm really excited about tonight's show. Have you been to Portland before?

John Grant: I have and Doug Fir is one of my favorite places to play in the world, so, excited to return!

Lynn: How did the two of you get connected?

Rod Thomas: Initially we met doing an interview together for Loverboy Magazine in 2014. The interview was really fun and we had a great time. I'm really, REALLY thrilled to be joining John on tour. I saw him play a long time ago, and really love his albums, and I can't wait to hear him live again.

Grant: He is a quality individual who is also very talented, as you know.

Lynn: I do know! What can we expect from the tour?

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Thomas: I'll be playing tracks from both of my records and I'll be switching it up a little.

Grant: You can expect us to be in the moment and giving the love back to the crowd that they show us by supporting us and showing up.

Lynn: Just going off my own social media feed, John, your new video "Disappointing" has become something of an instant classic amongst gay men. How did the concept for that video come about?

Grant: The wonderful David Wilson came up with that concept after a meeting about what we both envisioned for the video. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. It was a very fun day.

Lynn: Your music feels so deeply personal to me. Is songwriting therapeutic for you?

Grant: I suppose so -- don't really know. My music is definitely very personal. The songs are about moments, snapshots of everyday life, and about having one's say, or at least feeling like one has had one's say. I feel it's simply a way for me to function in a world where I have never felt terribly at home.

Lynn: What do you do for self-care while you are on the road? Any tips for other touring musicians?

Thomas: You have to be very, very careful. If you suffer from anxiety or feel lonely easily, it can be a real challenge. There's a lot to be on top of when traveling, and it does often mean lots of time on your own, with a constantly changing crowd and can really throw your balance. It's really important to prepare, to eat and drink as healthily as you can and to take things that make you feel good. Whether it's a book, a TV series, a podcast, knitting, whatever -- there is a LOT of dead time on tour and if you're not prepared it can take its toll, especially if a tour is, for example, 6 weeks solid. Not many people realize that they struggle with that kind of time away unless they've done it. I don't drink much alcohol on tour -- lots of people think I'm some kind of Victorian -- but I need to look after my voice, and my tiredness levels, so I do what I can to stay healthy and upbeat.

Lynn: That sounds like good self-care to me, Rod. And you have had such an amazing year, first traveling the world opening for Sir Elton John and now this tour with John Grant. How many times a day have you been pinching yourself?

Thomas: Quite a few! It's been a really amazing year. A few years ago the idea of a "world tour" seemed pretty far fetched, so to get to do one, let alone with Elton John, was so incredible. And John Grant is a really unique artist, and a LOVELY man, so to play more intimate shows with him is so brilliant.

Lynn: So special. I caught your show with Elton in Portland when you were here and it was incredible. Do you have any favorite Elton moments from your time around the world together?

Thomas: Record shopping for each other. He's the biggest music fan I know, and it's so great to see how excited he still gets for music -- old and new -- so far into a career and after having bought so many records in his life. When I had some time before shows, I'd go and explore the city we were in and try and find him some records he was looking for or didn't have, and he'd email me and ask "do you have this record?" so we did a nice little record swap club. It was so cool.

Lynn: Oh my god. Celebrity-gasm! You have a lot of dreamy collaborations under your belt. Anyone you are dying to work with?

Thomas: There are quite a few yes. In terms of people to sing with me there are quite a lot, but I've always dreamed about being the vocalist on a track by Röyksopp, Basement Jaxx, Chemical Brothers or more recently Disclosure. I love their production so much.

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Lynn: I was chatting with my buddy, musician Matt Alber (who is a big fan of your work, John), just before this interview and he wanted me to ask you, in your song "I Wanna Go To Marz," when you reference "the Gold Dust twins," are you referencing the 1975 Alan Arkin film "Rafferty & the Gold Dust Twins"?

Grant: No, it was the name of a sundae on the menu of the sweet shop "Marz" in the town where I grew up. I should check out that film, though, it sounds great, I love Alan Arkin!

Lynn: Mmmm. Sundaes!!! Who are some of your favorite bands and artists right now?

Grant: I've been enjoying the latest Sleaford Mods, Neon Indian, Jane Weaver, LOVE the new New Order record and I'm very happy there is something new from Johnette Napolitano. There is so much good stuff out there.

Lynn: That's real.

Thomas: I love Twin Shadow, Oh Wonder, Shura, Roisin Murphy, John Grant (obviously). I'm listening to a lot of Pointer Sisters and Janet Jackson at the moment though. Mainly 'Contact" (PS) and 'Control' (JJ).

Lynn: Miss Jackson if you're nasty. John, if you had to describe your new record in one word, what would it be?

Grant: Diverse.

Lynn: And for your music, Rod?

Thomas: Honest?

Lynn: That's real, too. Another real thing is: I adore you both.

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For more on John Grant, visit his website, or follow him on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

For more on Bright Light Bright Light, visit his website, or follow him on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

For more on Logan Lynn, visit his website, or follow him on Facebook, YouTubeand Instagram.