BIO (click second button to the left to play audio while you read..)
Skyline Drive bring an alluring new wrinkle to Americana music
while at the same time echoing the ambience and spirit of some of the most poignant California country-rock and americana songwriters. The songs deliver with evocative lyrics, skilled picking and lush pedal steel guitar.
Their live shows will find them performing everything from sparse heart on the sleeve singer-songwriter numbers to the high energy southern soul vibes of Allman Brothers and The Band. The core sound of the Skyline Drive sound is Derek Thomas (songwriter, acoustic guitar, vocals, harmonica) and Erik Kristiansen (pedal steel/ multi instrumentalist known for his work with both Ryan Adams and The Backsliders) . They formed a two piece in 2011 after meeting at a show. Weeks after they recorded the album "Topanga Ranch Motel" with a few friends at Derek's cabin in Topanga Canyon. They are now performing higher energy live shows accompanied by Dave Anter and Mike Derricate (bass), Carl Byron (piano, organ) Christos Hansen (drums)
The slower tempo tracks are redolent with melancholy and heartbreak tethered to an underlying sweetness that shadows the sincerity . Thomas's delivers with burnished vocals and sincere thoughtful lyrics accompanying smokey loose ended stories. Welcoming the listener to come in, relax, and fill in the foreground. Kristiansen shines on pedal steel, casting a vibrant landscape, drawling arching melodic lines that blend and support Thomas's stories with playful precision. On the higher energy tracks Thomas draws form his southern american rock influences. The results are pulsing groovy soul numbers with lots of bite and character behind a southern rock spirit.
Listening to some of their slower numbers one can't help but wonder what has shaped this southern California surfer kid into such a retrospective and insightful individual "Much of my musical influences came from my moms boyfriends when I was very young. I never met my blood father and at the age of four my mother took me on a rambling cross-country trip with her boyfriend at the time, a cowboy with an old Cadillac". The soundtrack playing int he vehicle was composed mainly of songwriter like Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt ,Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson. As I grew up I realized that trip had a really strong impact on me however how strong I didn't really realize for many years." When his mother finally did re-marry and he dove deep into his stepfather’s vinyl album collection, soaking up such California sound artists as Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; the southern rock of the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, J.J. Cale ; and such inspirations to his fingerstyle guitar playing as Leo Kottke and John Fahey.
Two years in college at the University of California at Santa Barbara mainly found Thomas on a hillside writing or at the coast surfing instead of the classroom. "The campus was so lush and inspiring. It was very difficult to focus on academics, especially with so much passion for song crafting and all the great beaches for surfing" Shortly after dropping out he took a job at the Maho Bay Camps eco-resort on St. John in the Virgin Islands. The managers were quick to shift his duties from hospitality to entertaining the guests five evenings a week, which helped Thomas sharpen his charms as an entertainer. Upon returning to the mainland Thomas took residents in Kona Hawaii. He chose not to return after attending a wedding and remained living on the beach for weeks. After getting run out of hotel bushes he ended up playing music at the local pubs/resorts and teaching surfing with the Hawaiian Lifeguards.
Directly from Hawaii he moved to Ireland to work as lead guitar player in another band. On his return to the States,ß Thomas landed in San Francisco, where he ginned up a hearty buzz as a co founder of the acclaimed psychedelic art rock band 60 Watt Kid, whose second album, We Come From The Bright Side earned them a four-star review in Rolling Stone. Arriving back to the Los Angeles area, Thomas began teaching both music and surfing under his own terms. His ultimate goal since he was 15 has been to write songs for a living and stay close to the ocean as possible. " I enjoy so many styles of music and different artists, and In really love getting in peoples heads” he explains. "As long as it has truth and allows me to express myself” he explains.
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Erik Kristiansen originally hails from Northern Louisiana. In 1993 he moved to New York City armed with a rocking chair and a Telecaster, and began backing singer-songwriters in bars and coffeehouses in the East Village. He played with several bands including snotty punks Los Dudes, recording an album with them in 1996 before falling in with the thriving “roots rock” scene of the late-‘90s. Kristiansen has toured and recorded with renowned alt. country bands The Backsliders (Southern Lines, 1999), The Dark Horses (Come Along, 2002) and formed a side project with Ryan Adams in 1999 which gave birth to some of the material on Adam’s breakthrough album “Rock ‘n Roll”
The first self release is due out in mid July "Topanga Ranch Motel" was recorded mostly in Thomas's Topanga canyon cabin and self produced by himself and good friend/bassist Mike Derricate. The music they have created with their friends has already impressed quite a few major industry folks. Producer Elliot Mazer, whose many credits include Neil Young and Janis Joplin, hails Thomas as “a very talented singer-songwriter,” while Malcolm Burn, producer/engineer for Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and other notables, praises his “very well thought-out songs that sound absolutely great.” John Lowson ( Roger Waters, John Fogerty) observes, Thomas is “a truly gifted singer-songwriter whose songs capture the imagination of anyone that listens. [Topanga Ranch Motel] is a journey into a deeper awareness of ourselves.”
Skyline Drive now emerge onto the Los Angeles club scene as a band with a sound that echoes of the past while pointing to the future. ". The scenic musical view from Skyline Drive promises to become a favorite destination as its vista expands in the years to come.