Local musician and self-described broke, gleeful outsider Tom Flannery doesn’t sound like anyone else.
Flannery has made music since he was a teenager, when he wanted nothing more than to sound like the rockstars he looked up to. But the only person he has ever been able to sound like was Tom Flannery. It was upon this realization that he decided to write his own songs.
More than 10 albums later, Flannery continues to create his own unique music that strives to imitate no one. The Archbald resident recently went On the Record to discuss his recently released CD, which he created with fellow local musican, Bret Alexander.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to work in the music industry?
A: I always knew I wanted to write and record and perform my own songs. Making money at it is, thankfully, secondary.
Q: How has living in this area affected your music?
A: The ground you walk on becomes the building blocks for what you write. Woody Guthrie once said, “All you can write is what you see.” So it’s impossible for your own roots to not drive your own music.
Q: How would you describe your new CD?
A: “Tales from PA 6” is a series of vignettes, really. Little four-minute movies acted out with guitars and mandolins … with legal pads and pens. We plotted out a course from A to B, but that didn’t mean it had to be a straight line. There were loads of back roads, but we eventually got where we wanted to go. It was a true collaboration.
Q: Is this CD a divergence from your usual sound?
A: I think my sound has been pretty consistent over 10-plus records. Driven by acoustic instruments mainly. Mostly quiet noises but the occasional boom.
Q: What was it like working with Bret Alexander?
A: His talent is intimidating, but he isn’t. We’ve become friends and share much in common: The same world view, the same thoughts on work and family, the same thoughts on what constitutes good and what constitutes evil. We don’t disagree on much.
Q: Was it your first time working with him?
A: It’s our second release together. We recorded “Dupont Back Porches” in 2016. The response was very positive, and we thought, “Maybe it’s worth trying this again…”
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an artist?
A: The good and the bad nuzzle up against each other nowadays. Technology is such that just about anybody with rudimentary technical skills can make a great-sounding record. It used to be it cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Now you can make a record in your bedroom on your laptop for the cost of software and a good microphone. As a result, there’s TONS of music out there, and it’s all fighting against each other to be heard. So sometimes making new music is like climbing a mountain to punch an echo. But for me, and for Bret too, it’s not just what we do, it’s who we are. I couldn’t stop writing songs any more than I could stop blinking my eyes.
Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?
A: Pete Townshend and Woody Guthrie.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
A: To remain vertical, employable and word-hungry.