Tom Abbott - 10 Questions Music Interview
Tom Abbott is on the Board of, and an artist in Operation Encore, a Veteran Music Project. Currently a Pilot for Southwest Airlines, Tom spent 22 years as an Air Force Fighter Pilot, flying A-10s and F-16s in combat and peacetime operations all over the world. Operation Encore, a 501(c)(3), supports Veteran singer-songwriters in honing theiR skills and getting their music published.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
While at University, I lent a "friend" $100. He dropped out, and told me he was unable to repay the debt. So, I went to his house, walked through the door, saw him sitting on the couch smoking a bong, and spied an old Harmony F-hole guitar sitting on a stand. I walked over, picked up the guitar, nodded to him, and walked out. It's been downhill ever since. Best $100 I ever lost.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Playing to a crowd of 500 soldiers inside a hardened hangar in Saudi Arabia, all of us dressed in full combat gear, and armed, the day before the Gulf War commenced.
What has been the high point of your music path?
My Pilot Band warmed up for Quiet Riot during their USO Tour in South Korea, and a month later I got to play onstage in a packed house with The Charlie Daniels Band during their USO Tour, playing a guitar lead right next to Charlie on Fiddle.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I start with a good idea, or a good story, then write the music to get feeling I want. Then I write the lyrics to tell the story. Sometimes I have a musical idea, that gets fleshed out into a song structure, and that leads to the lyrical idea.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Making a living! I'm fortunate in that I have a separate career that allows me the time and money to make music my sideline. As a Board Member for Operation Encore, a 501(c)(3) Veteran Music Project that helps Veterans get the their music out there, I deal with lots of artists struggling to make it in the business.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Jimi Hendrix, because it would mean he was alive! :-)
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
We go through the set-list, pausing on each song and trying to hit the more difficult parts of each, or the parts we weren't happy with from the last gig. Then we usually take one song, and try to figure out if we're squeezing every bit of feeling and soul that we can from that song. It ends up improving that song substantially.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
My first song on our first Operation Encore CD, called In Tent City. The song was about my experiences as an A-10 pilot in the first Gulf War. It practically wrote itself as I was flying from Phoenix to Nashville one night as a Southwest Pilot. In the studio, however, I had lots of inputs from the Engineer, and my friend, the founder of Operation Encore, and the song changed quite a bit. It was my first studio recording, and a great lesson in the give and take of songwriting, the putting aside of ego, and the beauty of collaboration.
What's coming up in the future?
Operation Encore continues to interview and add new Veteran Artists, and play gigs all over the country, so that keeps me busy, as well as gigging with my Band - all former or current Air Force pilots.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
This music interview was brought to you by BWH Music Group.