Tommy Joe Ratliff chats to Pressparty about his "amazing" fans, his journey with Adam Lambert and his career highlights to date
1. You originally auditioned for Adam Lambert’s band as a guitarist, but joined as a bassist and are now back to guitar. What would you say are your main musical influences and have you been able to incorporate them into your current work with Adam Lambert? Is there one particular record or song that changed your life or how you think about music?
To be honest, I've always been a guitarist. It took a little while to get the finesse for the bass, since I use a pick and was a guitar player playing bass (which really upset a lot of traditional bass players haha!). My influences for the bass were Twiggy Ramirez, Simon Gallup and Cliff Burton.
Adam's first album 'For Your Entertainment' was sort of his homage to glam rock. So my style of bass playing worked well for the live show. Switching back to guitar has been so much fun for me. My main influences on guitar have always been Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Slash, Kirk Hammett and of course Prince. When I first heard the songs, I knew they were going to be SO much fun to play live and I already had ideas right off the bat. It's hard to say what my favourite song is, because there are so many different styles on the album and they're all really fun to play and think of guitar parts to fit live.
I love the darker 90s sounding stuff so much and they feel amazing to perform. But getting to play the songs with a little more funk in them is really exciting. It's great feeling being locked in with everyone on stage and jamming on all of these songs. If I HAD to pick a favorite, I'd say 'Shady', 'Trespassing' & 'Kickin' In' are my favourites to play.
3. Having Nile Rodgers contribute to 'Trespassing' must have been inspiring as a guitarist and musician, have you been able to meet up or work directly with him yet?
I've met him via Twitter and we have messaged a lot back and forth, talking about getting together and jamming, which I'm really looking forward to someday. I come from a blues background, so there has always been funk in my guitar playing. But no one can lay it down like him haha! I'm really excited to see what I could learn from him. Not to mention he just seems like such a genuine dude.
4. Now that 'Trespassing' has been released in the U.S. and is set to be unveiled in the UK in July, what are you hoping this new era will bring? It has a lot to say lyrically (it raises the topic of gay marriage on the poignant song, 'Outlaws Of Love') and its recent appearance on the US Billboard 200 at No.1 made Lambert the first openly gay recording artist to debut at the top of the albums chart - do you think this represents a shift in attitudes and awareness of such issues?
I'm certain this album is going to make Adam's fan base ten times larger than it already is. He really worked his ass off on creating 'Trespassing' and I'm so proud of him. He took his time, and now is able to come out swinging with this amazing album. 'Outlaws of Love' is a beautiful song, it's definitely a tear jerker and hits home for a lot of people. I think it has such a strong message and I'm glad it's out there to be heard now.
Yeah, it was a risqué performance, hence the title of the song and album haha! I think that's why people will relate to 'Trespassing' well, because it's all over the place. A lot of it is about having fun with your friends and being crazy, some is dark and about getting through hard times showing people that they're not alone.
6. You’ve performed in front of thousands of people, shocked the world with that kiss and are enjoying a career as a successful musician with a voice people will listen to, but what would you class as the defining moment of your career to date?
There are so many, I don't even know what I'd say. Playing all the TV shows, playing on stage with my friends and doing this for a living has just been so surreal. I never take any of it for granted, I'll never forget the day I got to quit my day job the second I found out I was hired for this band... it was glorious haha! I had no idea it'd be this wild of a ride.
The first time I was asked for an autograph and a photo blew me away. I was like, "you want a picture of me?". Adam's fans have been so unbelievably amazing to me. It's a great feeling knowing that people out there respect you and love you for playing music.
Since I auditioned, we just clicked. We talked music and movies and became close friends, and have just become closer over these past few years. We have a lot in common and neither of us are afraid to say what's on our minds. We're both pretty open with everyone, which is probably why we don't fight or argue at all.
We've been playing together for some time now! I like it because it feels really comfortable. He's a great entertainer and we both like to put on a good show. But, I think being friends definitely helps with the chemistry on stage because if you know who you're playing with, it makes it fun. All of us in the band are like a family so we look over at each other and crack up sometimes cause we kinda know what each other are thinking.
Watch Adam Lambert wish Tommy Joe a happy birthday below:
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