By Bradi Murphy | Arts & Life Editor
Toops has performed at Common Grounds a few times before and looks forward to returning. His recent experience on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” has helped him create songs filled with love and heartbreak in his new album “Tried & True.”
Have you ever been to Waco before?
Yes, I’ve actually played twice at Common Grounds so far. I love playing in Waco. Common Grounds has been such an advocate, I think, for me as well as a bunch of other up and coming/indie artists. I’m grateful to be a part of it.
How do you hope to connect with your audience?
I love to look out at a concert and see people stop in their tracks. You can almost tell they are taken to another place or [a lyric] has hit them real deep, and they can’t escape that moment. That’s my goal in any live show. My favorite shows are the ones that turn into a conversation.
Is finding and losing love through your journey the kind of message you want to convey through your lyrics?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily a certain message I’m trying to convey as it would be trying to display the sacredness of every moment. The message of the new record, if there is one, is that all of life is sacred and that this moment is just as sacred as the next. I think all moments, and all experiences are an invitation into something really beautiful.
What influenced you to write these songs?
I feel like most of my songs almost demand to be written. The last couple of years for me have had a lot of peaks and valleys in different ways. From being a small indie artist to appearing on a reality show, “The Bachelorette,” that was watched by millions of people.
How has being on “The Bachelorette” influenced you and your songwriting?
I’ve definitely written more love songs and more breakup songs after being on “The Bachelorette,” he said laughing. That was a big catalyst for me, actually, because when we filmed the show and it aired, there was about a two and a half month delay and … a few months where I couldn’t share anything with anyone. It can be really, really difficult to bottle everything inside, especially when millions of people are interested in it. The way that felt the most cathartic was disappearing in my house and making music.
Is there anything you regret about going through that experience?
No, not at all actually even in the midst of some of the most crazy times. In a lot of ways, the show gave me an invitation to really grow and evolve as a human and understand myself better. Coming out of it, I definitely felt myself shaken to the core, but that season has been so worth it on so many levels, and I am so grateful for that experience.
What work goes into making a new record?
The most important work that goes into making a record that I’ve found is living – really living life, and then taking time and space to put that life down into words and melodies. It takes a lot of work, but for me, I wouldn’t do anything else. I heard a guy say, “You should try to do something in life that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning,” and then I think [it should] also [be] something that you can fall asleep to at night. You can lay your head down on your pillow and still feel good about it. That seems like a pretty big gift in itself.
What pushes you to continue performing when challenges or obstacles come up?
I think what continually inspires me is when a stranger… sends a Facebook message or an email … or shows up to one of my shows and walks up to me and says, “your music has meant so much to me, and it’s gotten me through this really hard season.” Music has such a way of giving meaning to so many experiences in life … and when I look into the eyes of my listeners, … I say to myself, “‘of course it’s worth it.” The doubt of the journey only leads to sweeter moments of encouragement along the way.
What are you most looking forward to with your performance this Thursday?
I’m just really looking forward to making music with my friends and making a bunch of new friends.
Toops also gives his fans the opportunity to listen to one of his new tracks before anyone else by texting 320-300-4355. After they fill in their information, fans can continue using the number to text Toops personally, and he can respond. Toops hopes that this will reduce the gap between the artist and the listener.