By Tiffany Green

STAFF WRITER



After fourteen years, some line-up changes and a hurricane later, HalfDown Thomas will release their first professionally produced album, Beautifully Strange on February 17, 2009.

The band started their musical journey over 14 years ago while still high school students.

George White and Wesley Smith, the two original members, got together while both were at Good Hope High School.

The others, singer Randy Ayers and drummer Mark Underwood followed in 2000, and Halfdown Thomas was formed.

“We did two self produced CD’s at a studio in Birmingham,” White said. “It was an attempt to get up and started.”

But with the newly professionally produced CD, the band will finally have their chance to be heard.

“This time around it is a real disc,” White said.

Their big break came in 2004, when the band entered a battle of the bands competition in Birmingham. They did not win, but through the experience they were introduced to 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson.

In 2004, they were signed to a management deal with the 3 Doors Down label. Henderson helped to produce the album.

But fame had to wait when mother nature hit with Hurricane Katrina.

The band was in Mississippi with Henderson, getting ready to lay down the tracks, when the hurricane hit, leaving the studio and the master recordings for the album under 12 feet of water.

The band met again in 2006 in the same studio, now remodeled after the hurricane damage and again problems arose.

The band along with Henderson re-recorded the tracks in about three weeks, only to find a computer glitch had rendered a large portion of the tracks unusable.

Henderson had to go on the road with 3 Doors Down, so HalfDown Thomas was willing to work around his bands schedule and wait.

After waiting three years, they finally got their chance.

“We had to deal with Chris being in a real band,” White said. “We had to suck up our pride and deal with it. He believed in us. We literally sat and waited three years because he was as passionate as we are. It allows you to have confidence.”

In 2007, the band once again met with Henderson, but this time in Nashville, at his new studio.

“Getting the incredible opportunity to meet Chris Henderson and Rock Ridge Music CEO Tom Derr has proved to be the best thing to ever happened to HalfDown Thomas,” Smith said.

Henderson enjoyed working with the band as well.

“This band is so easy to work with,” Henderson said in a press release. “From a production standpoint, they provided me with a wide open palette, bringing some amazing riffs into the studio, then taking my suggestions to the next level in their continuing songwriting endeavors.”

The band thought it an honor to work with the successful 3 Doors Down.

“Rock Ridge Music’s commitment to our success is unrivaled and we are excited to see where their direction will take us. Chris is the hardest working guy I know. When we were working with him, he’d only get four to five hours of sleep before he was back to work. It was fantastic being in the studio with him. He’s very down to earth and he gets what we are doing,” Smith said.

White said he was glad Henderson took the time to work with his band.

“They’ve been so amazing about recording the album three times,” Henderson said in a press release. “It was not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way that things went down. But they took it all in stride and they made it fun.”

“We just want to make a name for ourselves,” White said. “We are living the dream. I just want to sign my tax form ‘musician’.”

Smith agreed. “I want to make a living at this, he said. “I want to make it a career.”

White said the CD will have a limited run at all Wal-Mart stores from Huntsville to Birmingham.

“As long as we are moving forward, we will have a career,” White said. “We want to just be real. We want people to show up at our shows cause they want to hear us.”

To contact HalfDown Thomas or to see where they will be playing, visit their Web site at www.halfdownthomas.com or their myspace account at www.myspace.com/halfdownthoms.

The band will have a CD release party on Thursday, Feb. 19 for those ages 18 and up at Zydeco in Birmingham.



‰ Tiffany Green can be reached by e-mail at tgreen@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 221.



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