MP3 Trevor Thompson - The Acoutics, vol. 1
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7 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Acoustic, POP: Today's Top 40
From Gridiron to Studio
Thousand Oaksâ Trevor Thompson proves athletes can be viable musicians and keep their competitive edge By MATTHEW SINGER
Trevor Thompson is a rare breed of human: a jock with an artistic side. Or maybe itâs more accurate to say an artist with an athletic side. Because for the 30 year-old Thousand Oaks native, the art came first.
Before discovering his prowess on the football field, Thompson practiced piano every day after school until, like most kids entering adolescence, he convinced his parents to allow him to stop. By the time he came back around to music, writing songs and penning his own lyrics, he was also designing plays as a quarterback for Thousand Oaks High School.
The duality of that situation has never seemed odd to Thompson, though. For him, being both a star athlete and a soul-baring musician has always made perfect sense â in fact, it may even give him an advantage.
âThe direct influence from the field to hereâ â and when Thompson says âhere,â he means the Newbury Park recording studio he is calling from â âis confidence and a little bit of swagger. And I love competing. Iâm not saying music is a competition, but there are only so much attention and so many dollars that can be spread through different musicians and acts. Itâs a marketplace. Sooner or later, someone chooses to either buy you or not.â
Despite having a background that would make a lot of listeners suspicious â when was the last time a decent album came out of the NFL? â after speaking to him, it is not hard to buy into what Thompson is selling. Music is not something he is using to replace his prematurely ended football career. It is not just part of his life, âIt is it,â he says.
His latest album, Nothing & Vanity, is proof of that. Featuring songs of contemplative piano-based pop, the record shows off Thompsonâs convincing songwriting chops. And of all the hats he wears â multi-instrumentalist, singer, pigskin-chucker â that is the one he most wants to be defined by. âWhen I think of people calling me a guitarist and a pianist, I am all of those things, but mostly, I write songs.â
Songs are in Thompsonâs genes, though not of the variety he performs today. His grandfather founded the Conejo Valley Symphony Orchestra and his dad was president of the group when it became the New West Symphony. Naturally, his father made him study classical piano. But the rigidity of the training turned Thompson off.
âBy nature, I canât sit down for more than 45 seconds, so half an hour was something else,â he says. Plus, he had already been introduced to rockânâroll courtesy of his older brother, including one of his prevailing influences, Creedence Clearwater Revival (âI can forgive him for Dokken,â he says), and would later discover hip-hop through Eric B. & Rakim and KRS-One.
But instead of disowning him after he quit his lessons at age 12, his parents encouraged him to pursue other interests, which happened to be football. âMy parents taught me that wide bookends are a good thing,â he says. âThey never said to pick one thing and go with it.â
In high school, Thompson proved to be a talented quarterback and was aggressively pursued by UC Berkeley. He went to the university on a football scholarship, but a severe shoulder injury stalled his college career before it even started. Sidelined from sports, Thompson delved deeper into his love of not only music but language as well: He would often stop at a cafe near campus every morning and transcribe classic literary works like Beowulf, just to feel the rhythm and pacing of the writing.
Then he began spending hours upon hours sitting on the floor of his apartment, laboriously generating one song idea after another. Eventually, with dozens of completed songs under his belt, he started his own imprint, Seven Productions, as a way of distributing them.
âThe music business is at odds with itself, the way artists and labels donât get along,â Thompson says. âSo I thought, âScrew it, weâll do it ourselvesâ â not to be indie music, because to me, music is indie because itâs accessible to people. I donât want to be niche-y. I hope people hear a different sound, but a sound thatâs welcomed by a lot of people.â
Thompsonâs first release was Acoustics Vol. 1, a collection of tunes recorded in a stripped-down format. For Nothing & Vanity, however, he got a little more ambitious. Incorporating full arrangements, Thompson calls the record a âconcept album,â although it doesnât tell a linear story. Every song, he says, deals with the feeling of emptiness and how people choose to either wallow in it or rise above it. He didnât set out to create that thread â the songs were written over a period of three and a half years, after all. The connection created itself naturally.
âItâs about vanity, not in the sense of image but in terms of meaninglessness. Thatâs probably the proper meaning. Itâs more about a sense of loss than, like, shaving your eyebrows.â
The album will be released on Feb. 3 with a celebratory performance at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. After that, Thompson hopes to tour, internationally even, and bring to his audience what he believes is greater than the ability to write a song and throw a football combined: honesty.
âMaybe thatâs what weâre looking for,â he says. âKids in college and beyond are looking for something a little honest. If thatâs not what I provide, then I havenât done my job.â
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