Performer Scene: Stu Thomas

How did you get into playing the guitar?
I remember a neighbour gave me a beaten up old classical guitar. The neck was separated from the body and had been glued back, but it had separated again. It had one string, the lowest one. I would call it the low E string now, but I didn’t know those things then. I was 10, 11?? I worked out things I heard from the radio in this contraption. Eventually, my Mum bought me a small, budget acoustic guitar, an Audition, and I went from there.

What was your first good guitar and how did you get it? (Do you still have it?)
The first good guitar I had was a Vantage fretless bass. VS600B. I paid it off on lay-by with money that I earned working at a takeaway chicken shop. I played tons of early gigs with this and sang lead vocals too. Talk about challenging…My next bass was a Washburn and it was black, and had frets.

What were your early musical influences?
As far as I remember … my Mum’s records was comprised of crooners, country, some cool pop like Nancy and Lee, The Carpenters, and later ABBA. I liked it all. We used to listen to AM radio all the time too, especially in power blackouts. I liked all music. I heard Creedence blasting from jukeboxes in suburban pubs. I saw music on TV. I borrowed tapes from the library, and heard all kinds of stuff from experimental to pop. Then I hungrily searched for stranger sounds on the local WA uni radio, and found a world of weirdness to treasure right there. African, Indian, Jazz, Alternative, Reggae etc etc …I borrowed records from friends and shared endless smoky nights listening to T-Rex, Stones, Led Zep, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zappa, King Crimson, and beyond.

Favourite piece of gear?
It’s a tossup at the moment between my Burns Barracuda baritone guitar or my Maton Blackwood Jumbo acoustic electric. The Barracuda is handy as it’s a great bass, but if need be I can do shows with it as a guitar / bass, pulling out chords and/or solos depending on the vibe.

What gear that you still use today has been with you the longest?
A delay machine by Ibanez DM110. A rack type thing, all jacks ins and outs and it can get up to 7.2 seconds delay.

What are your top 3 guitar albums (or songs)?
If you’re asking which are the top 3 guitar albums I was on, I’d say “Ya Gotta Let Me Do My Thing” by Kim Salmon & The Surrealists. “Escape From Algebra” by The Stu Thomas Paradox. And, “You’ve Been In My Mind” by Dave Graney & The MistLY. But apart from that: “The Man Who Sold The World” by David Bowie because it features Mick Ronson, my favourite guitarist. He does some very out-there, energetic and melodic rock electric guitar. “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic. A warm mixture of rock, funk and blues. Heavy and psychedelic. Eddie Hazel was THE MAN. Great guitarist, in the wake of Hendrix, but holding his own. “I Advance Masked” by Andy Summers and Robert Fripp. An exploratory album by two guitarists with distinct styles. Very un-Rock, but there is really nothing like it. No classification can do it justice.

What’s your latest release/recording?
Our new album is out now. It’s called “Counting To Infinity” by The Stu Thomas Paradox out through Off The Hip Records, Melbourne. It’s a fine slice of Rock-noir Devilry and a vivid snapshot of our live show. It was captured in two live studio sessions (of two-hours each) between 2018 & 2019. Alongside our own hot-rock originals, we have a penchant for playing cool, obscuro songs from films. We make these forgotten gems our own with doses of trash-guitar fuss-twang goodness. The Stu Thomas Paradox is Stu Thomas, Billy Miller (Ferrets), Eduardo Miller Phil Collings (Surrealists). It’s available exclusively on Bandcamp at this time:

Any upcoming live/streaming gigs?
Sun Sep 13, I’ll be streaming solo via Stageit doing a set of Lee Hazlewood songs.

The Stu Thomas Paradox was booked for 20 Sep and 18 Oct at Misery Guts Bar in St Kilda. Not sure if they will both happen. Kim Salmon & The Surrealists have a livestream album launch for their new double LP on 27 Sep from Memo Music Hall.

What’s YOUR scene?
Promoting my new album. Doing bass sessions for others. Preparing new arrangements of old songs of mine I find. Painting and drawing. Reading lots: Brecht, Patrick White, Don Walker, William Gibson, Ballard. Playing my Maton Blackwood. Listening to heaps of vinyl.

About Stu Thomas

Stu Thomas is a multi-instrumentalist, sinner-songwriter, vocalist, performer, producer, and has worked with some of Australia’s greatest bands. He plays solo or with band as THE STU THOMAS PARADOX, and plays baritone guitar/bass for Dave Graney & The Lurid Yellow Mist and for Kim Salmon & The Surrealists.

Born in Canberra, raised in Perth, Stu picked up music from an early age, playing 2nd trumpet in the Xavier Swing College Band. He taught himself guitar and bass, and decided music was his true calling.

In the late 70’s Stu formed bands and played where possible until 1990, when he headed to Melbourne, fronting primal-pop trio Organism.

They survived a year, were touted by JJJ, released a self-titled cassette, then broke up. Stu played on, and has since appeared on over 70 releases, on world stages, on TV, and film soundtracks.

Stu’s first solo release was the Resonance EP (2003), followed by debut album Devil and Daughter (audrey) (2004), a darkly acoustic affair (re-issued globally in 2007 by Spanish label BANG!). To perform this music Stu & the Celestials were born, Stu fronting on vocals and nylon-string. In 2005 Stu took a different tack, forming hot-wired voodoo-surf group THE STU THOMAS PARADOX, with Stu wielding a wild, reverb-laden baritone guitar. STP has appeared across Australia, NZ & Europe, sharing bills with Ed Kuepper (Saints), Mick Harvey, Dave Graney, Kim Salmon, Steve Lucas (X), Thomas Wydler (Bad Seeds), Penny Ikinger, Harry Howard (These Immortal Souls), Darling Downs, Silver Ray and Ron Peno & The Superstitions. 2nd album Escape From Algebra (2010) was self-released, following first single Shake Your Derriere (Bar Hum Bug). 2011-19 saw STP play in all Australian states. In 2014 Stu wowed Australian audiences with a tribute show to the great Lee Hazlewood, which proved a tremendous success. A CDEP called Stu Plays Lee came out to coincide with these shows, followed by an 8-inch lathe-cut vinyl version called Stu Thomas plays Lee Hazlewood (2015). Counting To Infinity album by The STP was released in 2020 by Off The Hip.

About Martin Cilia 85 Articles
Martin is an Australian guitarist and vintage guitar collector. Apart from his solo work he is a member of The Atlantics, Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs and is currently guitarist in Mental As Anything.