A conversation with Fred Thomas

 

    We spoke with Fred Thomas about holding onto confusion, whether life is a series of colors, the properties of a warm breeze and what a deer is.

    I’ve had years that felt stuck in a dull grey feeling, and other moments that seemed like a burst of joyful green that held promise and excitement.

    1

    Morgan Enos

    If you were to divide your life into 12 colors, what would they be and why?

    Fred Thomas

    12 colors seems like a lot! Life is divisible into a lot more than 12, for sure, but life for me seems to move more in shades than colors. Like many others, I’ve had entire years or series of years that felt stuck in a dull grey feeling, and other moments that seemed like a burst of joyful green that held promise and excitement. It was harder to notice to slow shifts in color day-to-day than to just block them all off as the same thing. Lately, the days feel different shades of a friendly brightness that isn’t a distinct color.

    2

    Are you nostalgic for old friend groups, life situations or just single moments in your past that you can never have back? If so, can you describe why?

    This is a great question, because it makes me realize I actually have floated between really deep friendships without looking back much when they aren’t the primary focus. I think of different times in the past with people I love, and that love is still there even if those times aren’t and our situations have changed. Mostly, if I see someone I was close with before, I still feel close with them, even if it’s been a minute. In that way, it doesn’t feel so much like there are moments I can never get back. It’s more like there’s no end to what could come to be. Maybe it’s all the better to be who we are now than the dumb kids we were before.

    I have a catalog of fall feelings, some beautiful and some rooted in pain or disappointment, but I love them all so much.

    3

    Do you feel like you hold onto any real regrets? If so, what are they? Or what are they not?

    No, I don’t have regrets, really. Some things could have been better, but things happened how they did and we’ll never know what could have been different and if it actually would have been better or not! I do hold on to times I’ve been hurt or confused, though. Even weird interactions that happened 20 years ago with strangers. If I don’t have enough to think about, my mind starts replaying when someone cussed me out at the copy shop in ’97 or some argument I had in my twenties. I’m sad that I never feel totally done processing those moments, but no regrets.

    4

    When the seasons change, do you feel memories, feelings or sensations dredged up in your memory that occurred when it was that temperature, or that weather condition? How so?

    Completely. I love when the fall begins and I have a catalog of fall feelings, some beautiful and some rooted in pain or disappointment, but I love them all so much. I was really, really sick when I was 21, and it started during the fall. Even though it was one of the most intensely scary times of my life, there was something about that fall that I miss and love still.

    5

    Do you feel people are generally giving, or sort of out to get each other? How does the Internet feed either or both of these attributes?

    Everyone is so different, and most people have some of both of those things. I do feel like the Internet feeds a sense of comparison, and that can really bring out weird things in different people. I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and says “I am out to get the people I meet today!” but I do know a lot of folks who seem like they want as much as they can hold, compulsively, needlessly. Whatever it is, they want it. That’s something that’s probably been emboldened by parts of the Internet, the fear that there’s not enough and we’re getting ripped off if we don’t rip someone else off first.

    Then again, have you looked into the ASMR community? That’s an Internet-led thing that seems to be all about giving and sharing hopeful energy, so both are strong.

    6

    Please describe the first party you attended as a teenager. Were you supposed to be there?

    The first real party was a gross rager in Brighton, Michigan, a town north of where I grew up in Ypsilanti. We had some skater friends who lived in Brighton and they were like, “Let’s go fuck with the jocks and normal people at this lame party.” So, no, me and my five friends weren’t invited and were not supposed to be there. Bored and annoying in the early ’90s, we were out to just freak out other kids, saying and doing weird shit, acting feral, playing Butthole Surfers tapes, etc. The cops came to the door and everyone scattered out into the woods, maybe like 50 to 70 teenagers running terrified into the night.

    A deer is a sweet beast who is majestic and skittish at once, reminding us there is power in stillness, strength in what might seem fragile.

    7

    Do you prefer single- or double-breasted sport coats?

    Can’t say I really know the difference.

    8

    What metaphor do you wish people would never use again?

    Any overused hyperbole of the NPR/podcast variety — in particular, when someone says something like, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. And by ‘best thing that ever happened to me,’ I mean ‘the most horrible moment of my life'” type of shit. So stupid, not cute.

    9

    When was the last time you felt a warm breeze? What was happening in that moment?

    Lots of hot gusts, but not as many warm breezes anymore, yeah? Emily and I went to Portland for a vacation and to celebrate being married for three years and there were moments in the late June mornings in which warm breezes wandered through the windows and woke us up, gently. It was rare and beautiful.

    10

    Finally, please describe a deer without saying “antlers,” “fur,” “animal,” “wild” or “hooves.”

    A deer is a sweet beast who is majestic and skittish at once, reminding us there is power in stillness, strength in what might seem fragile.

    Thank you.

    Data


    Conversation: 232
    Curated by: Morgan Enos
    Conducted by: Email
    Published: December 6, 2018
    Total questions: 10
    Word count: 981
    Reading time: Three minutes

    Metadata


    Confusion:
    Replay:
    Disappointment: Accessed
    Morning:
    Window: Nearby
    Gust: Warm

    Relation


    About the subject


    Fred Thomas is a singer, songwriter and guitarist originally from Yplisanti, Michigan.

    About the curator


    Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.


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