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Mohawk musician making it on his own

Brendt Thomas Diabo performing at an open-mic in Montreal
Author: 
By Lauren McComber Birchbark Writer MONTREAL
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
1
Year: 
2012

Right from the start, Brendt Thomas Diabo doubted his pursuit of a solo music career. It was April 2011, and he had just started recording songs for his solo music project called Thomas Doubting.

It wasn’t that he lacked the musical talent – he has plenty – or that he suffers from stage fright. It’s just that, as Diabo puts it, it is simply in his nature to doubt. Hence the name, Thomas Doubting.

“It was sort of an experiment for me. I was mainly just testing the waters to see if I could do this,” confessed Diabo, a 21- year-old musician from the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake.

With his tentative first steps into the Indie music scene of Montreal, Diabo promised himself that if he didn’t reach a certain goal by the age of 22 (to tour outside of Montreal), he would just “stop the whole pursuit and grow up.”

With his 22nd birthday just two months away, Diabo doesn’t see himself giving up anytime soon. He is recording his second EP - which has already yielded a bluesy number called Ride – and has some potential gigs in the works opening up for a wellknown Aboriginal musician.

“Where I wanted to be last year is now where I’m at this year,” said Diabo. “It’s taken a lot of time, money, and dedication to get the ball rolling, but with my new EP being recorded I have a lot more confidence in myself and my music. I’d like to see how far I could take this one.”

Diabo’s interest in music began at the age of eight-years-old. He remembers owning an Elvis fridge magnet and watching all of Elvis’ movies.

“Elvis is the king,” said Diabo, half-joking.

At the age of 12, Diabo’s father taught him how to play the guitar. His earliest musical influences came from his father as well, who listened to classic rock groups like Led Zeppelin.

Diabo’s father also played another crucial role in Diabo’s solo music project: He got his band name, Thomas Doubting, from a list of band names his father brainstormed for his own cover band. It was originally Doubting Thomas, but Diabo had to change it due to the name’s popularity as a band.

Other musicians who inspire Diabo are folk blues bands and artists like The Gaslight Anthem, City and Colour, and Bruce Springsteen. He is also influenced by Country legends George Jones and Hank Williams Sr.

“They are all very vivid and great story tellers,” said Diabo.

At the age of 15, Diabo played in his first band, a punk group called The Renegades. A couple of years later, he played in a Kahnawake hardcore metal band, and later found himself producing rap beats. More recently, he played in two hardcore metal bands from Montreal called Deadwalk and Hatred.

These experiences shaped Diabo to be the musician he is today, which is basically a oneman- music-act. Not only did he write, produce, co-engineer, and promote his first EP “Haunted” all on his own, he played all of the instruments (guitar, vocals, drums, harmonica, and keyboard) heard on the album.

“Haunted” was released in November 2011, and the first single titled 6 Feet Underground was released in June 2011.

“[6 Feet Underground] is dark, along the lines of Tom Waits, but other songs on the EP sound similar to Tom Petty; they’re very pop and upbeat,” explained Diabo. “It’s a mix of light and dark.”

Since 6 Feet Underground’s release, Diabo has not stopped playing shows and performing at open-mics.

“I play shows as much as I can, when I can. In the past year, I’ve managed to meet a lot of new people in my genre of music, so there is a lot of gig swapping,” said Diabo. “Everything is building up brick by brick.

People are liking [my music], wanting to hear more, and asking where they can download it.”

Diabo mainly promotes his music through social media sites like facebook and twitter. His youtube page ( w w w. y o u t u b e . c o m /doubtingthomas27) has received 4,388 hits to date. 6 Feet Underground has received 609 views, received airplay on Kahnawake’s community radio station K103.7 FM, and was featured in a Headrush MMA clothing line commercial.

Not too bad for someone who was dubious about stepping out as a solo music artist in the first place.

When asked what advice he would give to someone contemplating going down the same path, Diabo cautiously answers.

“I honestly have a hard time dealing with this question because I’m just some kid with a guitar who’s been running down a dream and constantly chasing it,” explained Diabo. “But if I were to give any advice, it’s that everyone has got to start somewhere in whatever it is they want to do with their lives. I just hope they’re ready to build what they want from the ground up, because it takes time and work like anything else.”

To download Diabo’s EP “Haunted” for free, go to w w w. m e d i a f i r e . c o m / ?jhp7sjl83vi2763.

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