Tommy K is an independent artist in many genres including Pop, Rock, and Country. Tommy K produced the song “It’s Our Love” which is a perfect wedding song and has been chosen by couples to play at their wedding! I was fortunate to get the opportunity to interview Tommy and ask him about his career and song!
Tommy K Interview By My Wedding Songs
How did you get your start in the music industry?
My passion in life ever since I can remember has always been to make a positive difference in another life. It was during my high school days that I felt music could be my lifelong calling because it truly is an international language. I discovered that a great song can really touch hearts and minds and music has healing qualities too. It wasn’t until I graduated from college with a Criminal Justice degree that I decided to pursue music professionally. I could always use my college degree to fall back on. I joined my first professional band then and never looked back.
To further answer this question and convey a proper understanding, we have to go all the way back to the beginning. I was born into a musical family during the early 60s. My Mom was an accomplished Singer, Songwriter, and Musician, who was very much into Polka music, having been inducted into the Michigan Polka Hall of Fame. She recorded and released several Polka records that were quite popular at that time; “Halfway Louie” and “Posen Potato Polka” by Ruby Kay. Unfortunately, I never did have the opportunity to play together with her during Polka time but do remember attending weddings where I would assist setting-up and tearing-down. I sat very politely and did not run around…always very supportive of my Mom and her music. My older sister could sing; my oldest brother could sing and play guitar and he had a band during the 60s; then my brother six years older than me had a band and played the organ and sang; and my younger brother played saxophone in a band. We never really tried to form a ‘family’ band like the Jackson Five or Hanson, but on Sundays, we would always get together and play and sing at the house.
My mind is filled with memories…so many memories. The piano was the main instrument in our home. My earliest recollection of the first note played on the piano, more or less tinkering around with it, was as a kindergartener. I remember going to church and listening to my brother play “Holy. Holy. Holy!” I thought it was great so I came home and started figuring out how to play it on our piano. I also remember coming home from school, completing my homework, and then playing on the piano. I would figure out songs and would play for hours. It was always runs and scales. I taught myself how to play fast, as I wanted to be the fastest piano player. My Mom actually showed me scales, runs, licks, and chords. I attended three or four music lessons, but it was a group lesson and I did not like it because I thought I knew more at the time so I picked it up by ear. I am self-taught on everything musical (instruments, writing, singing). I wrote my first song when I was about 10 years old and learned how to read music in a band at school so I was able to write it out in sheet music form with the notes. It was called “Dirt Road”. I still have it and am thinking I should revisit it to possibly record on my next release. I also played clarinet beginning in the fifth grade. I really, really wanted to play drums too, but Mom said I had to play a musical instrument…yes, I wanted to play drums but had to play clarinet instead.
Since my brothers had bands of their own and they practiced at our house, I was always listening to the music they played and it was the popular music of the time including artists like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Steve Miller Band, Bob Seger, Billy Squier, Electric Light Orchestra, Bay City Rollers, Sweet, and The Doors to name a few. I sang along loudly to all the songs in the background. I distinctly remember vocalizing to Santana’s “Evil Ways”! My friends were over to the house all the time. One friend heard me sing and he told me I sang like a girl. I thought, oh, that’s cool. So, I gotta high voice and I was good with that. In high school, doctors discovered I had an overactive thyroid and they wanted to give me radioactive treatment to cure it but I said no because I did not want it to mess up my voice. Now, as a professional Singer, Songwriter, and Musician, I can look back at my formative years with pride and wonderment knowing that I strove to be a consummate musician with a sincere love of my profession and complete dedication to and passion for my craft. I feel so very blessed.
Who are some of the artists that you have admired through the years and influenced your music style?
Upon my graduation from college, I joined what would eventually become an immensely popular cover band called BACK TALK. At that time, the band was looking for a keyboard player so I auditioned, then practiced a few times, and then sat in for a few live shows before I got the gig. BACK TALK performed popular music of the time; 60s-, 70s-, 80s-music (pop, rock, heavy metal, dance, alternative, and more) and was an opening act for many popular A-list artists. We not only took tremendous pride in our own musical abilities and those of each band member, but we also took tremendous pride in the joy our fans were feeling while enjoying our music and simply being around us. We were touring everywhere and gigging upwards of 300-plus shows a year; booked solidly Tuesdays through Sundays.
When I first joined BACK TALK, it did not take long for fans of the band to make it known that they liked my voice more than the regular singer’s voice. So, the regular singer decided to leave the band. I grew up shy so I could be found singing behind my piano or keyboards while performing live. Slowly, I stepped away from the keyboards while singing and fans loved it. I was overwhelmed by the response and actually found my confidence. This was truly a magical discovery. It was not until the mid to late eighties that I realized I could really sing and nail the vocal parts of Steve Perry in Journey. During early BACK TALK days we played a few Journey songs and fans were knocked out by my performance. They would show their support during performance of the song live on stage with loud roars of approval, and then after the show personally congratulating me on my vocal performance and also letting me know they wanted more Journey music in our sets. It would be a transition from BACK TALK to a band I founded called, The Rock Show Band in the early 2000s that really solidified my confidence in my vocal range; especially on Journey songs. And, it was during this time that a legendary local mid-Michigan radio personality, Johnny Burke, who had attended quite a few of the early BACK TALK shows and a couple of The Rock Show Band shows, called me personally to ask if I could do a Journey Tribute show for his radio station. Historically speaking, this is how The Rock Show Band Journey Tribute, The Rock Show Band Tribute To Rock (Cover band), and ultimately Tommy K were introduced to a mass music public.
I have come to understand and am so very appreciative of the fact that I was placed into a position since my birth to have been around so much music. I listened to a healthy variety of different musical styles and genres while growing up. And, furthermore, I have played a multitude of covers in a popular cover band and played arena rock songs in a recognized preeminent Journey Tribute band while continuing to write, record, and perform my original songs. From slow ballads to fast rock; heavy metal to country; alternative to top-40; new age to polka; and, so much more. Every song I have ever played had its very own identity. So, taking this musical history into account, each song that I write has that ‘crossover’ genre appeal and feel. It is definitely something that I am not conscious of or that I feel that I should do, it is just that I am very blessed that it comes so naturally for me and is something that really feels right. I must confess too that much has been based upon my distinctive vocal quality. My songwriting is unique to me and it is my style. I write songs that are based upon my life experiences like my current single to radio, “It’s Our Love”, which is finding its way onto Country, Adult Contemporary, and Classic Rock radio station playlists around the US, Canada, and Europe.
Your song “It’s Our Love” is becoming a popular wedding song. Can you tell us the backstory of the song?
“It’s Our Love” is a love song, a ballad. It came about when I was on the road touring and my girlfriend at the time moved from Michigan to Illinois to take a professional job. I would be playing shows on the weekend and traveling to see her during the week and it popped into my head of writing a song about a long-distance relationship. My band never performed near her because we were always booked elsewhere around the country.
“It’s Our Love” is about that special someone you are always thinking of while away on the road and one day wanna be with them forever. Interestingly enough, the current rendition of my single to radio entitled, “It’s Our Love” is not its first recording. My cover band at the time, BACK TALK, released one album on cassette in 1990, which contained the very first version of “It’s Our Love” and it was recorded as an arena-rock ballad. “It’s Our Love” has enjoyed success with live performances since then, and has been and is a popular song when played live at many a wedding. It wasn’t until I met Bobby Randall, former founder of ACM/CMA Award-winning country music band SAWYER BROWN, that, “It’s Our Love” skyrocketed to where it is today. Bobby and I were acquaintances, who lived near each other and who saw each other at my live gigs that he attended. “When I heard Tommy K sing and I heard some of his songs”, states Bobby Randall, “I said I have to produce this project. It’s too good to pass up. The music should speak for itself. Tommy K rocks!”
Bobby suggested I record with him, so I reworked several of my songs and then met in Nashville, TN. Bobby Randall is a credited producer on my TOMMY K “Someday Someway” four-song EP. My “Someday Someway” EP was recorded and engineered by Nathan Smith (Dolly Parton, Little Big Town, Kathy Mattea, Sara Evans, Steve Wariner) at Mainframe Recording Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. GRAMMY Award-winning and Latin GRAMMY Award-nominated Ron McMaster, with Capitol Mastering in Hollywood, California (now retired), provided his pioneering and most sought after and respected Mastering talents. I am so very blessed to also have had many of Nashville’s most notably talented musicians, including Bobby Randall – Acoustic Guitar; Jon Conley – Guitar (Kenny Chesney, Luke Combs, Allison Moorer); Mark Oliverius – Keyboards (Lorrie Morgan, Joe Diffie, Pam Tillis, T.G. Sheppard); Duncan Mullins – Bass (Porter Wagoner, Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers, Kathy Mattea, The Statler Brothers, Luke Bryan); Wes Little – Drums (Little River Band, Terri Clark, Robben Ford); and on-the-rise Singer/Songwriter Melissa Lee – Backing Vocals providing their remarkable talents on my album. My “Someday Someway” EP was released in December 2017.
Since then, three of the four songs on my debut solo album have been released as singles to radio and have enjoyed ‘crossover’ success. As it turns out, each song on my solo album has a country music feel, so “It’s Our Love” is doing very well at Country Radio across the United States. It is a very humbling experience and an exciting one as well to achieve a Billboard Top-10 Chart success with my debut solo album during its very first week of release. I have many fans around the world to thank for their love and support.
Listen to “It’s Our Love”
Can you share any stories that couples have shared with you playing “It’s Our Love” on their wedding day?
Gosh, there are so many heartfelt stories I have heard over the years that are truly beautiful but also so very humbling for me. It seems no matter wherever I travel, someone stops me to explain in great detail that they played my song “It’s Our Love” at their wedding and when they did so how truly special it was. I am always thanked! I have performed at many weddings and have found many Wedding DJ’s have “It’s Our Love” in their setlists. I recall a couple who were so enamored with my original BACK TALK version of “It’s Our Love” that they not only used it in their wedding but when they heard the new Country version, they decided to renew their vows to my new version. Many couples simply thank me and say “It’s Our Love” is THEIR song…THEIR wedding song and is incredibly meaningful to them. I am so humbled to hear that. What an honor and privilege it is for me to have that opportunity to gift someone with something of mine they think is so special to them.
Do you have any new music or projects on the horizon?
I do! I am currently writing and pre-producing tracks for a new popular music album, sort of a follow-up to my debut solo album. I am also in the early stages of putting together a Polka album (maybe covering my Mom’s Polka songs while including my original Polka songs) and in the early stages of a possible Contemporary Classical, Classical, New Age piano album to be released to raise funds and awareness for charity.
Because live events are at a standstill, what are some of the things you have been doing to keep busy?
During this time I have been honing my musical chops on instruments, strengthening my voice, always writing new songs, and going to great lengths to stay healthy during these difficult times. I also continue to fully support “It’s Our Love” to Radio and Press with promotional opportunities that include On-Phone Interviews and Performances, Internet Interviews and Performances, and In-Studio Interviews and Performances (when permitted). Physical autographed CDs are available for on-air giveaways too. I just purchased a new home so I have been building an in-home recording studio that includes rehearsal space.
When live events start rolling out again, can you divulge any potential tour dates or places?
Honestly, I am probably like every other musician who loves performing live for others…am definitely looking forward to returning to live performing no matter what opportunities exist. Certainly would be interested in performing 200 plus live gigs per year, as well as touring outside of the US around the globe. Wherever I can go I WILL GO! I believe I am very fortunate that many of my canceled dates in 2020 will be returning in the future.
If you were going on a road trip today, what music artists would be playing on your radio? Any surprises?
I have been listening to a lot of country music lately because most country songwriters tell great stories; Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, The Chicks, and Taylor Swift to name a few. I recently sang “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin at a Celebration of Life service and everyone was surprised that I spun a recorded version of a meaningful Dolly Parton song too.
When you look back over your entire career, what do you want to see?
I hope and pray that I have made a positive impact on an individual life. It goes well beyond simply just hearing that a fan heard one of my songs on the radio, or just played one of my songs off my album, or saw me live in concert, or calling someone to sing them “Happy Birthday” which I do all the time. Each individual is uniquely different. I call, sing and all are initially surprised but afterward are so touched. And, there are the many times, those truly yet very difficult times when I am asked to sing one of my songs in-person or over the phone to individuals at their end-of-life. It is most humbling to note that my songs have been reached for by individuals in difficult times. This type of connection is for me beyond-words-special. What an honor and privilege it is for me to have that opportunity to gift someone with something of mine they think is so special to them.
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