The 405 are delighted to premiere Bright Light Bright Light’s fantastic new EP, Tough Love.

Following his vibrant Choreography album, Rod Thomas’ new music explore the theme of being “cruel to be kind” – both to ourselves and others. Sparked by recent articles about mental health and social media, his new songs are about checking in with yourself and knowing when to be tougher or kinder on yourself in life and relationships. With his penchant for pop, the EP features reflective lead-single 'How I Feel' and the full-bodied 'Uh Huh!'. Andrew Darley caught up with charismatic artist ahead of his European and US tour to talk about his new music, choosing his tour setlist and what performing with Erasure earlier this year taught him.

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The idea for the song ‘Tough Love’ came to me when…

I had been reading multiple articles and posts from people on social media about mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community. Especially in an age where everyone’s so attached to social media, and you interact with so many people, it’s easy to forget to look after yourself and be honest when you need to take a step back. It’s about looking after yourself, realising when a person or a situation isn’t good for you, and distancing yourself from them or it.

After I wrote it, I felt…

Like I’d done a juice cleanse without having to give up coffee.

I named the EP after this song because…

The idea of “tough love” is multi-sided. Giving tough love to someone who’s been holding you down, giving yourself tough love when you need to step up, and then also on the flip-side, not being too hard on yourself all the time and remembering to have fun. I wanted the songs to tap into the different approaches to love, relationships, interactions, and the phrase just seemed to work.

The music on Tough Love is different to Cinematography because…

It’s not written about scenes from 80s films, but about things happening in the social world today. No Mannequin-inspired dance moves this time.

The song that changed the most from its demo to the final version is…

Probably ‘Anybody Else’ as Rob Davis had the backing track written as a demo for someone else. We were emailing one day and I asked him to send over any unfinished ideas to see if we could make something new, he sent that and an hour or so later I sent back ‘Anybody Else’ and it worked. I have no idea what his original idea was but I’m guessing that’s the most different from any original “demo”!

The lyric I’m most proud of on the EP is…

“Days feel long, and peace of mind is just counterfeit cos you’re still there on the inside” from ‘Tough Love’

My happiest moment making this EP was…

There were so many actually. I loved working with Ian Masterson again on ‘One’, he’s a true electronic pop genius. Working with Rob Davis for the first time was a real high point for me because I love his catalogue (‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ / ‘Toca’s Miracle’ / ‘Groovejet’), and when I put down the beat for ‘Uh Huh!’ I basically improvised it over the top and it just seemed to write itself on a gorgeous sunny day in Brooklyn – it felt pretty great!

Touring with Erasure taught me…

That music really is the answer. Their timeless songs that speak to all these different people from all walks of life have given them all such joy, or such catharsis, for all these years. They’re the most lovely people, and I want to be doing that when I’m as far into my career as they are. Also: you can never have enough neon.

The best part about touring is…

Meeting people on the road and seeing how the music connects. And record shopping in non-major cities where people don’t mark record prices up as much and you get some real bargains.

To unwind on tour, I…

Watch vintage horror films.

When travelling, I like to find…

Obscure film soundtracks, Grace Jones 12” singles and old disco gems on record in independent record stores.

Choosing the support acts for my tour was…

Quite hard actually, as there are so many people across the country working hard to make their own kind of music. It’s hard to pick one band and not feel like you’re letting another down. But there are some great people opening for us on the tour!

Deciding the songs to play on this tour has been…

Again, quite hard, as there are three albums, multiple EPs and new music now. That’s why I added the solo piano set to kick off the night, so I can let fans request certain songs so they can still hear them. I try to make a setlist that flows energy-wise for the full band set, and any songs that don’t work in that, I can do in the solo piano bit!

I hope this tour...

Is amazing fun to be part of for everyone who comes.

Tough Love is out tomorrow. Tickets to his tour can be found here.