Bio: Kirk Thurmond wants to take you on a ride to remind you why music means so much to people. He wants to give you music, that years from now, will still mean something to you. At age 12, Kirk borrowed a friend’s guitar for a weekend, but returned it a year later. He’s since gone on to share the stage with the likes of Ernie Halter, Green River Ordinance, Mint Condition, and more. Kirk jumped on the scene with his first album, Born in the City, as a straightforward acoustic-styled singer-songwriter. While initially desiring to craft pop music for a more discerning audience, Kirk has returned to the sounds of timeless music from years past – music that reflects community, the lives we live, and the struggles we all face. After finishing Born in the City, Kirk reentered the studio with a new perspective and the goal of taking his music to the next level. Kirk has spent countless hours over the past 18 months making sure his music and his message are on point. With a gift of playing by ear, Kirk spent this time touring nationwide playing acoustic guitar for other artists, and he was featured on the national TV series Troubadour, TX. Now focusing on a solo career, Kirk wants to help steer the music of this generation back to what it should be – creative, real, and moving.
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Favorite Dallas Hangout: Oaklawn Coffee
AHD: Congrats on the huge December release! Tell us all about your new album.
KT: The new album, ONLY LOVE, is my first full-length album. Basically, I wanted to make a record that spoke to love as a thing that goes beyond what we really think it does. The love of God that is Jesus Christ has saved me from a life that could have only resulted in my own destruction and the continued pain of others. It’s been said that “Where justice ends, love carries on”. I wanted to really start to take a look at that with this album. Musically I just wanted to make sure that I was creating timeless songs, by really tapping into some solid artists and their writing styles. We followed a lot of Michael Jackson on this record.
AHD: While writing Only Love you said you wanted to go deeper and be more intentional in your writing. Why the emphasis on honing your message this time around?
KT: Before I was writing an album called Goodlove/Badlove. I had called it my “honest look at the duality of love and how both sides can teach you just as much”. If I’m being real about it, that album was just going to be one big pointed finger at the people I felt like had hurt me. An excuse to write a bunch of “justified” hurtful songs and slap the label of artistry on it. Somewhere along the way, it all started to feel pretty dirty. Right around that time my life had started to turn around, to mean something more. I wanted my music to do the same.
AHD: You’ve said love is the one thing you know changes lives for sure. How has that truth made its way into your music?
KT: The truth of love is an interesting thing to write about. You start using lines in songs that break the love song rule a bit. Some of the themes sound familiar and then you notice it’s a bit different. In “There For Me” there’s a line that goes, “I wanna be in love but love is not enough”. In love songs, love is usually enough for that person, or at least it will be for the next 3 minutes. In this song, I’m talking about that part of love that’s able to go on when you don’t really feel safe. It faces the question can you love this person when they are unlovable? Do you know the truth about love?
AHD: Inspirations and covers abound on your site. What do you take away from the acts that inspire you most?
KT: Great musicianship blows me away! It’s truly inspiring to see a person use talent that they themselves could not have possibly developed. I’ve recently been telling some friends of mine that your job as a musically gifted person is not to go out and make the big moves. Your job is to hone your craft. It’s been gifted to you; now take good care of it. I like to see people like Michael League of Snarky Puppy hone their craft in a way that takes chains off the imagination. There’s a video of Cory Henry, Michael League, and Nat Townsley covering Stevie Wonder’s “Creepin’”. That video doesn’t tell you anything about status or big breaks. It’s three guys in small studio having a lot of fun with a great song. It has way less to do with skill and a lot more to do with imagination.
AHD: For this album you teamed up with AHD featured artist Steve Rokks. What was it like working with Steve, and what did the creative collaboration add to the album?
KT: Working with Steve is great! It’s been really cool to see our working dynamic grow over the years. It’s turned into this thing to where I know his strengths and he knows mine. It’s not like this run of the mill “you do your job and I do mine” mentality, we maximize the song based on what we know one another can do. We don’t play off of each other’s strengths, we play on them.
AHD: You’ve talked a little bit about music going wrong, and trying to steer it back. What do you think of the current state of music, and what does it need most right now?
KT: To keep this simple, music is being made based on what someone somewhere thinks someone somewhere else likes…so that they can have their money. The “art first” approach to music has faded out in popular music. There are a lot of genres that are still generating great acts that make contributing music; pop is not really one of them right now. What needs to happen? Guys, music is a service. It’s a contribution. Music cannot only be for us as musicians, it’d consume us as an all out false idol. We need to make it an expression of love and a celebration of the gift of art and imagination. Think how exciting radio would be if everyone started there.
AHD: What are your favorite places to work and play in the Dallas scene?
KT: One of my favorite places to play has always been Prophet Bar. Such a great room. Down the list are City Tavern and House of Blues, I’ve done some really nice shows there. I’m a coffee addict, so the most frequent places you’ll see me will be Oak Lawn Coffee, Cultivar, and Oddfellows. Oak Lawn Coffee is probably my favorite place in the city right now.
AHD: Where can we find your latest album, learn more about your story and tour dates?
KT: I am playing with Brad Cooper at the Prophet Bar on January 26th! My latest album can be found on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. For more info about or from me, I’d just check out my website, www.kirkthurmondmusic.com.