Philly singer-songwriter Joshua Thomas recently launched a crowd-sourcing campaign on PledgeMusic to fund his next EP, The Harboring. The music will be his first new material since 2012, and the first time he’s approached an album as an out and proud gay man. I’ve written about Josh in the past, and it’s no secret I’m a fan of his music. His last EP, Halfway, has been a mainstay on my Spotify favorites list, so I’d love to see him get some Steve Grand-type love for his campaign to put out something new. (Trust me, he’s much better than that honky-tonker.)
Here, he answers some questions about The Harboring.
G Philly: Tell me about the new album.
Joshua Thomas: I like to say that The Harboring is a collection of songs about a collection of men. Although in reality, the bulk of the record is about one man in particular. One or two of the songs have been around for a while now, but the rest were written in the past year when working through the loss of that person from my daily life.
GP: On your last album, you wrote a song, "Halfway," about coming out. Now that you're open about your sexuality, how does that reflect itself in your new music?
JT: On my last record, "Halfway" was really the only song with a truly honest bone in its body. This new EP isn't a "gay" album by any means, but as any person who has had the experience of coming out knows, all the doors open after that. I was able to write freely for the first time with this material, and I wasn't afraid to share that honesty with the public.
GP: How did you come up with the title? Did you write it on a harbor?
JT: I came up with the title while contemplating how often we harbor sadness or real emotion when working through something difficult. I think we all become pretty great actors in the process. The beautiful thing about working that stuff out through songwriting is that everything goes down on paper, so all the feelings I was harboring have been released and I can move on.
GP: Have a favorite track?
JT: For me, I think the most direct and honest song on the record is "Paper Heart." As anyone who really knows me can attest, I feel things pretty intensely. So in working through this, I imagined how much easier it would be to wear your heart on your sleeve if it were made of paper. It wouldn't weigh you down nearly as much.
GP: I know you play several instruments. Which ones will make it onto this record?
JT: The piano is certainly at the forefront. There are a few songs that prominently feature guitar, but I found myself most inspired and my mind most alive when I sat at the piano this past year. I also explored a little bit with instrumental pieces. I discovered that when I kept searching for a melody and couldn't find one, the song probably wanted to exist as it was, without vocals or words. In all honesty, I'm still piecing together the final track list, but will probably end up with a few B-sides that I may release in the future if I don't feel they work on The Harboring. There will also be a number of guest musicians on this project to add some essential layers to the songs.
GP: Why should people give you money to make this record?
JT: My goal is to bring something meaningful to listeners. It's all a very personal experience, as I really only write these songs for myself. But I record them for the people. Hopefully that will resonate.
Joshua Thomas will perform songs from The Harboring tonight at a benefit show at HyLo Labs. More info here. To donate to his PledgeMusic campaign, go here. Five percent of all money raised will benefit The Trevor Project.