Genre Rock, Pop Rock, Classic Rock, Guitar Rock
Comparison The Beatles, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, Oasis, Coldplay
About Tom Fuller Band
Not many lifelong Paul McCartney devotees can say Macca’s longtime drummer and guitarist guested on their latest album—to net the talents of drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. and guitarist Brian Ray the songs have to be first-rate. In just 7 years and 3 albums critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter Tom Fuller has matured into a sophisticated tunesmith with a flair for penning cinematic, anthemic, pop-rock with introspective and spiritually-uplifting lyrics. The Chicago native’s third and latest, ASK, released September 5th in the UK and recently in North America on Redcap Records is his most realized vision.
Tom’s pushed his singing dynamically to embrace the full emotional spectrum and he’s written his strongest batch of tunes to date—the esteemed UK magazine Classic Rock made the infectiously hooky “Ask” track of the day. The broad appeal of Tom’s music has made his band, the Tom Fuller Band, compatible sharing stages with a diverse array of established artists such as Fastball, Rusted Root, Robin Trower, Blues Traveler, UFO, King’s X and the Guess Who. ASK is produced by longtime producer/mentor Rick Chudacoff, (Alison Krauss, Smokey Robinson) mixed with Cenzo Townsend and Dave Bascombe (U2, Bon Jovi) at the famed Muscle Shoals studio and mastered at the hallowed Abbey Road Studios.
Tom’s compositional sense on ASK references the British Invasion pop-with-chops heritage with imaginative arrangements, rich harmonies, and sweetly-complex chord sequences. He merges this kaleidoscopic approach with a vulnerable humility; his lyrical approach manages to be both intimate and mystical, at times referencing the confessional storytelling style of James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Harry Chapin. The production aesthetic staves off any revivalist tags, there is a deeply detailed sonic tapestry that calls to mind the atmospherics of modern greats like Wilco and Coldplay.
The compact power-pop of “Ask” and “Lovers” reveals a natural talent for writing in a more singles-driven format. “Ask” recalls the concise catchiness of Tom Petty with hooks that are instantly familiar—one listen and you’re singing along. The driving rock of “Lovers” has a mystical grandeur with majestic Byrds-y 12-string guitar touches and enigmatically romantic lyrics. “I love astrology, tarot, and all the Mantic Arts. ‘Lovers’ is a tarot-reading song with the four symbols the lover, the fool, card lady, and the queen of cups,” Tom explains. “It’s about someone who just met somebody and is scared to death because they have a fear of falling in love. I didn’t complete the song, I left it open for the listener to interpret.”
Engaging tunes like “Keeping Time” and “Garden Dreaming Days” stretch out symphonically with thoughtful peaks-and-valleys arrangements. “Keeping Time” gently unfolds with a wistful fingerpicked guitar and Tom’s gently plaintive vocals, sincere but with longing. “The key line is ‘The fire and passion of any dream will let no one or thing come in between.’ I was in a relationship and what I was doing with music wasn’t that important; she didn’t understand how important this really was to me, it was heartbreaking,” Tom candidly reveals. “Life does go on, and with another day you can fill up the backpack with hope.”
On “Garden Dreaming Days” Tom challenged himself to write in an impressionistically romantic style with achingly beautiful lyrics like: Park Bench Memories/Gazing at the sky/My black umbrella/Can help if it cries/I come here to escape/Whenever I’m feeling sad/Garden Dreaming Days/More Time I Wish We Had. Tom’s a self-taught musician and mainly a guitarist by trade but he scored this poem by writing on the piano. “A couple of sections violate music laws; I’m not a trained guy. If it feels good to me, I run with it, I don’t give a shit about the rules,” Tom says. Paul McCartney ace guitarist Bryan Ray played soaring, teardrop guitar leads, emotional and gorgeously life-affirming.
Tom grew up playing in rock n’ roll in bands but had to leave it behind to make a living. As an adult he returned to the grounding and cathartic act of writing songs for himself to make his way through some personal demons. “There was this calling of a journey of getting alcohol out of my life and it left this huge gap that drove me to pick up a 6-string and deal with my emotions,” Tom says. “I didn’t know jack shit but I just took these baby steps that came together when I met my producer Rick Chudacoff—when the student’s ready the teacher shows.”
Also integral to Tom’s growth has been his band whose interplay, high level of musicianship and song-first sensitivity are all over ASK. This is Tom’s strongest effort not only because of the growth in Tom’s writing, but his vocals have an emotional resonance and confidence not heard on previous albums. ASK is a high watermark for Tom’s maturation as an artist and his growth as a person—it candidly and poetically reveals the depth of his inner journey with big hooks and a lot of heart.
A song like the rock operatic “Hell Fire Angel” with labyrinthine twists that connect winsome folk-guitar passages to raw-nerve rock n’ roll desperation mirror Tom’s impressively dramatic ascension as an esteemed songwriter and metaphorically alludes to his victory over alcohol. It’s a powerful arc from obsessing over Paul McCartney albums as a boy to recording with the former Beatles’ longtime sidemen as an adult. “The ‘awe’ thing kicked in the first day over lunch. The guys were talking about the new songs they’re doing with Paul and they were talking about learning ‘Paperback Writer’ and all the complex harmonies. I was getting chills like these guys can just call him up like it’s going to the beach.” Tom pauses, marveling at the scene before concluding, “I’m a lucky guy.”