When Bryan Thomas decided he wanted to ditch his southern rock style and turn to a genre affectionately known as “hick-hop,” he knew he had a lot to learn. He learned how to bend and flex words from his bandmate, JT Adams. He had to learn how to write a hip-hop hook. Most of all, he had to learn how to get in shape.
Rapping is a tiring, literally breathtaking affair, and Thomas, quite honestly, didn’t have the stamina for it. He had kids, was reaching adulthood (he turns 30 this month) and was, to be blunt, too fat to rap. He then endured a sickly stint in the hospital that led to him having throat surgery. So he quit drinking, stopped taking street drugs and started eating better, including flirting with a Vegan diet, and exercising. Since he and Adams formed the hip-hop/country band Long Cut in January, he’s lost 115 pounds.
“It takes a lot to be able to get all those words in,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “It’s very taxing. It’s been a process. I basically went back in time 10 years. It feels like I’m restarting my life.”
He is, both in his life and in his music career, and both seem to be working out for him. The duo is selling out shows, got a record deal with RAHHH records in October and will release 16 singles in 16 weeks, with the third dropping at Bandwagon press time on Nov. 9. There are more plans for a national tour and an album next year. And Thomas eats what he wants now, including some meat, only in smaller portions. He feels better than he has in a decade.
All this started three years ago, when Adams admired Thomas’ southern rock band and helped out with occasional gigs, especially several in northern Colorado. Thomas had a history, including headlining a night on the Free Stage at the Greeley Stampede at least once a year.
The two became friends. Early on, after Thomas heard Adams freestyle rap – a skill he honed in battles in the Kroger parking lot in Dallas – the two talked about forming a rap/county band one day. Inspiration struck Thomas during his mainstream country songwriting gig in Nashville. He remembered their dreams, wrote a couple songs and called Adams up.
“I told him, ‘I just wrote a badass country rap song,’” Thomas said. “‘Let’s crank out a record.” The two wrote two more as Thomas drove back to Colorado from Nashville, and they hit a recording studio in Brighton. “It was the tone in his voice,” Adams said and laughed. “There was no option.”
Thomas raves about Adam’s rapping ability and said he learned a lot from him, and Adams, for his part, talks about Thomas’ attention to detail and ability to sing and write a good country hook. Both believe hick-hop has a real future in music and want to ride the wave.
“It’s the fastest-growing thing in music right now,” Thomas said. “We believe we are on the tip of the spear of a new genre of music. It’s right where we need to be. You notice the people who are rich – they took a big risk. They weren’t afraid to quit their day job. That’s where we are with this. We got something special.”
The two call Greeley their home base, but they will be on the road for the rest of this year and all the next. They credit Demun Jones with most of their influence and inspiration, and he’s on their first single, but they are making a name for themselves now. Along with the 16 singles, they have a presence on YouTube, Instagram and every social media platform. They feel good about where they are. They are healthy and ready to go.
“You’re learning every day,” Adams said, “and that’s the whole point.”