“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Thomas says via phone from his New York home when asked about how he met Elton John. Thomas brings Bright Light Bright Light to town tomorrow night to play a “club set” at the Gay Games Festival Village where he’ll team up with two backing singers for a performance that takes place at 8:30 p.m. He met Elton John a few years ago, but the two didn’t become close friends until 2012.
“We are good friends, which is a weird statement to make,” he says. “We got on well and were always talking about doing something. I sent him the track and he really liked it. I asked him to sing on it and he agreed. It’s very organic and natural and heart-warming to have that kind of relationship with someone who you’ve grown up listening to. When I wrote the song, I improvised it on the piano. When I was producing it, he rang and so I heard his voice while I was thinking about the song. After that point, it seemed like it might work.”
John and Thomas have voices that sound similar and they mesh well on the song, which features percolating synths and orchestral flourishes. Thomas originally sang folk music but then ventured into synth-pop territory with Bright Light Bright Light, which he formed in 2009.
“Your skills improve,” he says when asked about the transition from folk music to synth-pop. “I just got better at making the sounds I wanted to make. It was a learning process and I needed to invest in the equipment I needed. But I’m very much about the song and the story and lyrics as much as I’m into the production.”
It’s been a busy year for Bright Light Bright Light (Rod Thomas). The guy has released two albums, one of which features a song with guest vocalist Elton John. That tune, “I Wish We Were Leaving,” a moody pop song about “a friendship that crosses the line and then goes wrong,” has become such a big hit, John has enlisted Bright Light Bright Light to tour with him in the fall when he plays arenas in the States and in Canada.