INTERVIEW: MARTY THOMAS On His New Album "Slow Dancing With A Boy"
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Marty Thomas "Slow Dancing With A Boy Album" Artwork
The New York-based Renaissance man Marty Thomas is internationally known for his singing, acting, hosting, and beauty talents. He is releasing a new heartfelt album called "Slow Dancing With A Boy," and his album explores the music of a young closeted mans coming of age memories, and dares to question the possibility of having lived those memories honestly and openly.
Marty talks with RyeTheNewsGuy.com about the new album, inspiration for the songs, his new approach to songs, what is next, and much more. Check out the exciting interview below. The album is currently available for pre-order at www.BroadwayRecords.com and Amazon.com.
Where did the idea come from for this new album? Well I had read this Huffington Post article a few years back, and the article was sort of low key. It had this picture of a boy going to prom with another boy, and the article was sort of "click baity." As I opened it, I felt this dark feeling inside me, being from the Midwest and growing up in 90s— that someone had done something, or someone had hurt him. I kept reading and reading and waiting for something dark to happen and it dawned on me, that nothing was going to happen. It was just this fluffy article about a boy going to prom. It was an interesting article because it was one where he was "patting himself on the back," or "look at this human-interest piece we did." It was simply— a boy goes to prom with another boy and I was just so happy! It showed him having a good time, his mom was taking photos, no one was dancing awkwardly away from him, and in fact, one of them was even crowned prom king! The article itself was just really hard on me after I read it because I realized all the stuff I was robbed of growing up. Having that experience of being comfortable to go to a school dance with a boy, or flirt with a boy, or have a relationship with another boy. I was locked in the closet because of the way I was raised and coming up through the church, so the article really stuck with me for some time. Do you remember the song "Remember Me" from the Casper movie with Christina Ricci?
Vaguely, I don’t believe I saw that version. It was a very popular ballad in the 90s and it just also happened to be my prom theme too. I remember the song had come on one day while I was driving, and I started weeping. I had to pull over and just really think about the song. It really hit me. And the project was just kind of born in that moment. The thought of taking these songs that were really instrumental in my youth and were popular at school dances and songs that I would have loved to slow dance with someone who I was attracted too at these dances. So, I started rearranging the music and trying to place them more firmly in the light, so they had a positive connotation for me.
That is incredible and so special. You mentioned being closeted and not being able to take the boy you wanted to prom. What do you want young LGBT people to take away from this album? Is it a tribute for all the closeted young teens who are struggling like you were? Maybe? I mean that's definitely part of it. A lot of it was just cathartic for me. It was more self-therapy than anything. It was a realization that I have so much shame and irritation at my youth that I just didn't get to have those coming of age experiences that should be our right as humans. I kind of let myself believe that I didn’t deserve it. As this project has been coming to fruition, I have talked to guys my age and I get such a visceral response from them— everyone in the room starts weeping. I think it’s because none of us allowed ourselves to realize what a loss it was and realize the experiences we were robbed of. We settled into this false reality that we didn’t deserve it and we weren’t valid— that everyone else, all the straight kids deserved it more and they deserved love. That we didn’t deserve to live out loud and have our families know what was going on because what we were doing was "shameful." It's bullshit!
Yeah, it is. It's sad. I think this album will definitely be a tribute to and for those people out there who are experiencing those feelings and it will be very cathartic. With that being said, how did you come up with the vocal arrangements for this album? They are done so beautifully! Oh, thank you! My passion has always been taking music and kind of hearing it for the first time, hearing it a new. I collaborated with my best friend and writing partner, Jamie Ray, he used to live in New York and now has a really famous acapella group that tours internationally and he's just a genius arranger. We spent this past summer together in Florida talking through these stories and talking through this music and sitting down and meeting with different instrumentalists trying to figure out how each arrangement spoke to us. There were a few songs that really just called for acoustic guitar and vocal and a lot of the album is very stripped down. I did one track that was incredibly important to me, a duet called "Seventh Grade" that I recorded with Mykal Kilgore and I just adore his voice. We called it “Seventh Grade” because it was all about this heartache summer I had at a music camp. I had such a crush on a boy that I just couldn't get close to and I know he had a crush on me too. We just knew that if anybody ever saw us speaking to each other, we'd be found out. The two biggest songs out that summer were Vanessa Williams' "Saved the Best for Last" and Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do, I Do It For You." There was a dance at the camp and it had those songs and I just kept seeing his eyes look and mine and vice versa and we would catch each other staring at each other and try to look away but we still caught each other looking. It was just a memory I never lost the feeling of “I really missed out and it was my fault."
It sounds so special how this album came to fruition. Will there be a tour in connection with the release of the album? Right now we're doing the album release concert on January 5th at The Green Room 42. I'm throwing myself a school dance. I'm giving myself a prom. I hired a wedding band and I am going to be performing some of the songs from my album so that's our first concert date for it. Other than that, I'm doing a lot of small appearances at different people's shows and then I'm going to tour it a little in the Spring.
Marty Thomas Head shot
I cannot wait to be there and see how it goes! Sounds like it is going to be a fun night! So, you have had an illustrious career— what’s been a favorite moment in your career that has been very special for you? I've had so many fortunate moments as a performer but working on Xanadu on Broadway was quite a kicker. Just being in an original Broadway musical and especially one with such a rich history of the film Xanadu. And the night that Olivia Newton John came out and held all of our hands and would hug us— those kinds of moments. Just feeling like, whoa, I'm really living it. Xanadu was just a magical moment in time for me.
Wow, that must've been really, really special. I can't even imagine what that must've felt like. So, I know the album is getting ready to come next and that is where your focus has been, but what will be next for you? I'm really focused so heavily on this album right now because I've been working on it for about three years, so I'm really excited to get it out there and chat with nice people like you who are willing to listen to my story. I'm just really excited to sing from the album and I'm so pumped about the album release. I did a pre-release of Jason Robert Brown's “Someone to Fall Back” on yesterday on Broadway World. And the heavens of "you're on the right path" opened and Jason called me and asked me to do a concert with him at Sub Culture on December 14th after hearing the track. When things are on the right path the right light shows you.
Absolutely. Do you have a special or a favorite song from this album or one that you really held close to your heart that you enjoyed the most? There are so many songs on this album. It gets kind of competitive. But today, my favorite track on the album is called "Dancing On My Own All By Myself." It's a mash up of three songs I love which are Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" with "On My Own" from Les Misérables and then the Celine Dion arrangement of "All By Myself." It really just encompasses how it feels to not be able to live your truth and not be able to love appropriately and affectionately and openly and honestly.
What is your advice for actors, performers, people in the entertainment industry today on staying fresh on their craft? The best advice is to do you. Find what’s innocent or find what’s true and what is real and organic about you is what I learned in the theatre world. In the acting world I was told, “if somebody is looking for a plumber in the entertainment world, they're going to find someone who is a plumber.” You don't need to figure out how to be that because there's so much that's unique and interesting about you already. You just have to figure out how to brand and market that. Because uniqueness is a commodity and needs to be celebrated. We've lived too many years of being told that it needs to be hidden and needs to be squashed away so that we can fit in. The age of blending is over it's time for the creators and the unique spirits to be highlighted and shown and spirited.
Wrapping up, are there any final words you'd like to leave us with? I'm just so grateful that anybody would take a minute to listen to this album. It was really important to me to record this project and it was a really important message for me to share and a really important emotional journey. I'm just grateful that anybody would take time to give it a listen.