Home* Discography * Tour dates * Links * Pictures * Writings * Interview * Contact * Mailing list * Buy Tom's records

The original interview with Tom was published in Destroy The Sun (if you can read it...)

Patrick Gunn - Where were you born and raised, and how did your writing both for Raw Bone and your music come out of your surroundings, if you feel it did at all?

Tom House -  I was born and raised Durham, North Carolina. My folks were one generation off the farms. My mother's family which had larger influence when I was growing up, female and church dominated. Most of them worked in the Erwin cotton mill and they were a stern and serious people. My father's family a little looser. He had two brothers and they all played music. My father though not very educated read all the time and pushed and instilled that love in me early.

There was a dichotomy men drank and were bad and women went to church and were good. That bare bones tenet I think stays with me even though I've distorted in my own ways of course through all these years. I consider self somewhat atheistic and can see anti-Christian bias much of my work (along with strong contempt for hypocrisy of "moral" society which kind of goes along with it)  Also will note schizophrenic embracing some of very things fire my angry and creative juices (and yes the two ran concurrently for many years  and probably still do  to a degree) I think that's why I am no more didactic than I am. I usually see the other side of dilemma also. My parents argued a lot and were basically philosophically opposites and I was oldest son and championed by both.

 Also, basically Piedmont North Carolina a large part settled by Scotch-Irish immigrants and a somewhat dour people. My brother doing some research found a great grandfather on my father's side named Anguish  who was listed as being a "small man who played the fiddle and was fond of drink". I rest my case.

Your music has a very dark vibe, which in every review I have read of your work has been picked up on, where does that come from for you? Is it deliberate or has it simply always been that way?

I do not try to color my songs one way or the other. Ideas come from wherever ideas come. I usually run with them as I can. It's rare a song arrives full-blown. I've got cases of verses, choruses, ideas dead where they stopped. The rest of the story I have to find. And that's the work of writing. And I have to be true to the story for it to work for me. That addresses some of your later question about the state of modern music. I find it phony and manipulative. That's what the radio demands. Stories tied up neatly with positive slant and moralistic values. (And that's if the story says anything at all---most songs are so stupid you can't even grant them the integrity of any intelligence)

Some songs I've rewritten many many times. Sometimes I'll find an early version of a song that I've finished and maybe played for years and I can't believe how I got from that early version I find to the song I now know.

What do you think of the current stae of music in America?

I find mainstream radio unlistenable with few exceptions, country, rock, or pop. And I hate oldie or classic rock stations too  though my daughter loves it and I've come to understand that it is great music and for people who haven't been listening to it for 35 years it probably is the best music they hear. Trouble is there is so much great music out in the world now. So many talented people. Hear some of it on college and NPR stations. Lot of it you just have to root out.

How long have you been playing music? Who are your influences

From early age was interested in writing and words and also acoustic guitar (never went through playing in bands stage) Mind was most blown by seeing Bob Dylan in 1964 in Raleigh. He was touring with Joan Baez and walked up to stage with just the guitar and harp and ripped through songs circa "Bringing it All BackHome" I was also big fan of early Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Buffy St. Marie. Followed threads back to earlier more primitive music like Dock Boggs, the Stanley Brothers, Charlie Poole. I think that's how I kind of evolved the style playing the oldtimey sounding music coupled to the more poetic beat-inspired lyrics Also have been a big fan of British/Irish folk music through the years and I think that sound bleeds into my music from time to time.

Also would have to throw in major influence of moving to Nashville in the early 70's. There's a site on the net listing NC songwriters and states I'm "living in Nashville with all the other poets" and it is easy to knock the Nashville that gets out to the world but for years I could go out anytime see Townes Van Zandt, Dave Olney, Steve Young, Steve Earle, and I could go on and on. A more immediate circle I've run with including Mark Germino, Rob Stanley, John Allingham, among others are still unknown and in some cases couldn't care less but have spent their whole lives writing songs that defy convention in style or content. It's been a great town to live a life. I'd recommend it to any songwriter who wanted nothing to do with the music industry.

I started playing the guitar when I was about 15. I quit after a few years and actually sold the guitar to Don Schlitz who went on to write "The Gambler" for Kenny Rogers  for $50 to go to Woodstock  which I did though I had no idea what it was and actually got there on Wednesday and left before the music ever started.

It was when I was in a facility for disturbing young men. I was 21 I saw a guy playing songs he'd written and it was the first time the concept ever occurred to me. So I bought the guitar I still play to this day and started writing songs.

I also wrote poetry and actually concentrated on that for years, publishing hundreds and giving readings. I wrote songs only to have em to play when I went out to the bars at night with my friends/ there were a multitude of open mics all over town. In a way I was lucky because I didn't care I never even considered toning them down or trying to make them conform anyone else's definition what a good song was.


Tom House