Rav Thomas could quite possibly lay claim to the title of one of Melbourne’s hardest-working musos. With a staggering 450 live performances under his belt since 2009, the singer-songwriter’s days of local fame are likely coming to an end as Thomas takes on the rest of Australia on the back of his Like A Game Show Host launch. And while he’s certainly no stranger to topping the Aussie music charts, Thomas claims he’s absolutely blown away his latest gem shot straight to number one on the ARIA Physical Single Charts last week.
“It’s pretty unbelievable, I’m really happy about it,” he grins. “We had an EP last year called Lily and that actually spent seven weeks in the charts. Its highest position was at number two.
“So,” he continues, “the natural thing for me was to do another single after that and then maybe another EP or an album. Except, Like A Game Show Host is quite different to Lily, which was much more polished… whereas this one represents what I am live. It’s also quite a positive, up-tempo song and it has a great optimistic vibe. It’s a love song but it’s much less polished and pop than Lily, whereas most of my back catalogue has been ballad-driven.
“In the space of time between Lily and Like A Game Show Host there has definitely been a bit of an evolution for me.”
The only dilemma at the moment, according to Thomas, is what to follow up the single with. Seeing how rapidly the music industry tends to change, Thomas says it’s one of the biggest issues that artists face at the moment in order to stay relevant.
“I’m not sure if the logical thing is to do an EP or an album,” he contemplates. “It would be expensive to do an album and then to have that big responsibility of having to push it properly as well. Everybody has a different opinion on the subject and it can be quite difficult to know whose advice to take. People are becoming more conservative in these times because the music industry is changing so quickly.
“Then again, there’s the option of doing the EP, which could be easier to promote. It’s not a matter of actual songs, because we’ve got plenty of those – probably enough to fill a box-set!”
Which would be because Thomas has been honing his craft since the tender age of eight. A full-time singer-songwriter who openly admits he’s never done a day of work in a nine-to-five job, Thomas says while he’s been lucky to be able to make a living from music, it hasn’t always been easy street. “I’ve been a singer full time forever now!” he says. “I’ve done nothing else with my career but music, which is a rare thing to say.
“I’ve been involved in various different things as a singer and a guitar player as well as a piano player over the years. The fact that Lily and Like A Game Show Host took so long to reach the charts and make an impact just goes to highlight how long these things can actually take to happen… When you’re trying to build something so relentlessly for most of your life, it can be a long road.
“So many people in the industry right now have no idea what’s happening. The album thing being an example, things that used to be set in stone once as a natural progression for an artist, those handbook rules are now changing so quickly.”
Luckily for Thomas, the stage is where his heart is at, the singer preferring to take to the road and get his music out there the old fashioned way.
“The scene in Melbourne is so brilliant,” he enthuses. “The weird thing is that during my whole career, everyone has always said that things were better in the old days – but I don’t know if that’s true or not! Because when I look around I only see the best musos in Australia here.
“The scene is very local – there are a lot of Melbourne bands playing every night so the venues are always full no matter who you are, or whether you’re a large act or small. If you’re not very proactive about pushing yourself and working hard and building up your fanbase, filling a decent size room is always going to be tough. So, I guess the flipside of having such a rich scene happening is that on any given night you’re competing with some many different artists and other forms of entertainment.”
Sometimes this might even include Man Power Australia, which is all good when you’re actually the musical act on the night, as Thomas laughs. Having supported some major Australian artists over the last few years – ranging from Vanessa Amorosi, Thirsty Merc, Kate Cebrano and Mental As Anything – Thomas is no stranger to mingling with Aussie rock heavyweights. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with some amazing people over the years,” he admits. “But sometimes you just never know what you’ll end up with because when they put you on a tour or into a show, you think to yourself, ‘this could go either way!’
“There’s been some major names I’ve been fortunate enough to play with, like Evermore, Jimmy Barnes, Diesel and Brian Cad and Russell Morris. Sometimes you go into it thinking it’s going to be an absolutely perfect combo and it’s anything but, or it’s the other way around and when you never thought it would match up, it actually does. Brian Cad and Russell Morris were certainly not really my demographic but it was one of the most amazing things ever that truly matched up.
“Another crazy one was Man Power, which certainly had the visual quality for the women there! It can be a hit-or-miss situation, but I’m happy to say it works out pretty well most of the time.”
RAV THOMAS launches his brand new single Like A Game Show Host – which hit #1 on the ARIA Physical Singles chart – at The Espy Gershwin Room on Friday November 26. Support on the night comes from Jo Dawson, Jakk’s Azimuth, Hayden Calnin and Rush Colour. Tickets and info from espy.com.au. Like A Game Show Host and Rav’s EP Lily are out now.