A CHRISTIAN ROCK GUITARIST
An Endorsing Artist of Epiphone/Gibson Guitars
Interview & Article By Adriana Rubio
Photographs: Courtesy of Richard Thomas
“Jesus saved me from the hell I was in and is the reason I'm a dedicated Christian artist”.
Richard Thomas also known as Rikki Lixx, former lead guitarist for “Operator” and “Rev Theory” is going solo in a complete new direction since 2012: Christian Rock!
But before getting into Richard’s new direction, I would like to introduce him to some new audiences out there through readers of this blog from different countries around the globe. Who knows where in the world this charismatic and talented guitarist would be touring next!
To start with I want you to know that Richard Thomas was very open to do the interview and I’m so glad he did. It’s one of the most sincere interviews I had in a long time. I’m so proud of Richard and really love the way he talks about almost everything. He Rocks! Enjoy!
Richard Thomas was born to be a musician. He was in first grade when he started playing the violin as the first instrument he tried.
“I was in first grade so it didn't get too serious. It just introduced me to playing music”.
But around second grade things turned out different for Richard as he fell deeply in love with Guns’N’ Roses, an experience he still keeps so vividly and talks about it so proudly and without stop.
“I'll never forget hearing GNRs ‘Appetite for Destruction’ around 2nd grade. I fell in love with it and Slash's guitar playing. I knew right then that I would do exactly what he was doing when I grew up. I got my first guitar in 3rd grade but didn't really get serious with it until I was 10”.
“I'll never forget practicing the song Sweet Child O’ Mine in the basement for hours and hours and days. The riffs came easy but it was the solo that took forever to learn (laughs!). I basically learned it by ear with a little help from tablature. I pretty much learned everything by ear through improvisation which I got really good at fast. Anyway my band ended up playing it for our 6th grade talent show”.
“When I was in elementary school I had a band called Twilight's Misery with my older brother Mike on drums and a couple friends. We almost called it Metallic Rose (laughs!!!). Obviously our favorite bands were Metallica and Guns and Roses. Looking back we were really right on track to being an Avenged Sevenfold with the same style and influences. It is funny because I ended up touring with A7X in Operator and Rev Theory. M Shadows is actually one of my best friends. And for the record I think Avenged Sevenfold is one of the best most talented bands to come out in a very long time”.
“Twilight's Misery faded because everyone started growing up and had other things pulling them in different directions. I never stopped. I was on a one track mission”.
When Richard was around 15 / 16 years old, he started going to music camps and special guitar training camps travelling to different cities all over the country. Thomas won a scholarship to the Berkeley Guitar Sessions in Boston with a blues improvisation demo he made.
“Things like that kept spirits up along with the undying support from my family. I moved around to different high schools because none seemed to have enough music for me. Eventually through audition only I got into The Creative And Performing Arts High School Of Philadelphia (CAPA)”.
“I passed the audition by playing a classical piece on the guitar and shredding through some scales on the piano. While at CAPA I also played the upright bass in the orchestra. I continued going to camps over the summers like Governor's School, a classical guitar camp in Miami, studying jazz etc”.
“I finally ended up dropping out of CAPA a week into senior year. I realized through all my experiences that getting out there and getting into the mix was the only way to make it in the music industry”.
As you can see things were not easy for Richard to get out there like a rock star by miracle. It was all about being focused, hard work, and auditioning, studying, learning and non-stop practice. Richard was serious also about learning to engineer and produce and he slowly built his own recording studio.
Richard Thomas was in many projects and bands like “Jealous Type” in Philadelphia, another one called “Automatic Black” on Arista replacing Stevie D. He was continually learning and gaining experience here and there until he finally got the call from Hollywood to audition for Johnny Strong’s band “Operator”, a signed act of Atlantic Records.
“I was about 23 years old at the time. I replaced DJ Ashba who is now in Guns and Roses and Sixx AM. Operator is Johnny Strong's solo project and always has been. He writes and records everything. By the way, I'd just like to add that I've worked with many, many artists and Johnny Strong is by far the most talented artist I've ever worked with”.
For those who don’t know… Johnny Strong is a multifaceted artist, musician, songwriter-composer and gifted singer, he plays all the instruments. Aside from his musical projects, Strong is a respected Actor, Martial Artist, a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Knives maker. For more info on Johnny Strong you can find an interview with him and some other relevant articles I wrote about his movies, music and more by searching on this blog. You’ll get Richard Thomas words genuinely right about Johnny.
“Soulcrusher was already done by the time I joined the band. They auditioned a million guys and Strong thought I was the best fit. And of course I nailed his guitar solos note for note so he brought me on board. I did record guitar solos on Operator's cover of 'It's So Easy' by GNR because I was in the band at that point”.
I know Richard truly enjoyed working with Johnny Strong so I couldn’t resist asking about the tours and… what about ‘A possible reunion…?’
“Touring with the guys in Operator...Johnny Strong, Paul Phillips, Wade (The Spade) Carpenter, and Dorman Pantfoeder (we called him DP) was the best time in music in my life so far (as far as touring goes). I absolutely loved every second of it and I miss it but I don't see a reunion in the future. I'm very busy with my solo career and Johnny Strong is as well. I talked to Strong recently. He has another movie coming out this year and he is almost done another Operator record”.
Richard moved out from Operator to join Rev Theory after Atlantic Records dropped Operator off. It was time for Richard to look for new pastures.
“The way I got in Rev Theory is that they saw me performing with Operator and set their sights on getting me in their band. Of course I had no intention of leaving Operator but when Atlantic dropped us I was contacted by the singer of Rev and management. They asked me to come for a jam with them so I did. On the other hand Operator was Johnny's project. He did everything. And as a song writing artist myself I knew I had to move on”.
Richard Thomas joined Rev Theory, a signed act of Interscope Records when ‘Light it Up’ was already recorded, but he nailed the solos and no one knew the difference. Richard toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd amongst others, and released a couple of more records while on Rev Theory. But there was a special sentiment about Operator plus a serious drug problem that needed assistance.
“Touring with Skynyrd was amazing! All of the tours were great but I have to say the two best tours I ever did were the Avenged Sevenfold & Operator tour and the Avenged Sevenfold & Rev Theory tour years later. I love those guys. Great band, one of the best bands”.
“After touring 'Light It Up' for a long time we released the 'Live At The Gibson Showroom' which of course I was a part of. The final record I wrote and recorded with Rev was 'Justice.' After a couple years of touring that record Interscope had to drop us because kids were stealing our music instead of buying it. I was also not really happy playing in Rev Theory. I mean don't get me wrong we had some good times and of course I love touring and performing. I guess it was a combination of a lot of things as to why I parted ways with Rev Theory. I don't think I ever really got over leaving Operator. Ha it’s kinda like a marriage splitting up”. (Laughs!)
“Interscope loved us and pushed us really, really hard for 5 years or so. Millions and millions went into promotion. The only reason Operator and Rev Theory weren't both massive simply comes down to money and the fact that people stole our music. Sure some people bought records but it wasn't enough to recoup the millions and millions spend on each project. That's why bands get dropped, even popular ones with tons of fans worldwide”.
“Also I had a massive drug problem that needed to be dealt with. Luckily Musicares took care of me and sent me to rehab. A big thank you to Musicares!!!
Richard went to rehab, got clean and started a complete new life musically and personally. He found himself for the first time accepting Jesus in his heart and is happily working as an independent artist.
“I'm very happy as an independent solo artist. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and got saved. Now all I do is make music glorifying the one true King, Jesus Christ. Life is good”.
“Jesus saved me from the hell I was in and is the reason I'm a dedicated Christian artist, follower of Christ and whatever that entails. The Good Lord has me writing and recording music for Him non-stop. I released 3 records in 2014. Wrote and recorded them alone in less than 10 months”.
“I write, record, engineer, produce, mix and master all my music by myself in my recording studio, just me and The Holy Spirit. I haven't put together a band yet. No plans to tour as of now. The future looks very big and bright though”.
“There are a few collaborators besides The Holy Spirit. My uncle Joe has been helping me and mentoring me in Jesus and everything that entails for years. So my first solo record, 'Truth' my uncle Joe co-wrote the lyrics on the whole record”.
“Then on my second solo record, 'King Of Kings' I did everything except for a few songs. A family friend and also a man of God, Jim Redmile, co-wrote 2 songs on the record. 'The Messiah' and 'Lord Of Lords.' I also collaborated on the song called 'Power Of Christ' with my very good friend and man of God Anthony Grieve”.
“And finally we come to my new and third record, ‘Spiritual Warfare'. I'm most proud of this new one. It's the heaviest of my three solo records by far".
"With Spiritual Warfare it was just me and The Holy Spirit. I did everything. All I do now is follow God's Will for me through The Holy Spirit and I've never been more happy in my entire life. So I give all glory to God in Jesus Name everyday and into eternity”.
Guitarist Richard Thomas is an endorsing artist of Epiphone/Gibson Guitars.
“I've always played Gibson custom Les Paul's and Gibson acoustics since I was a kid. I got an Epiphone/Gibson endorsement years back. So thanks to Jim Rosenberg president of Epiphone I have an arsenal of bad ass guitars. Epiphone did a ton of full page ads with me way back. They used me to promote The Prophecy Les Paul Custom in all the major guitar magazines”.
“I mainly use the Prophecy Les Paul Custom and Masterbilt acoustics these days. Epiphone recently sent me their G-1275 which is a double neck Gibson SG style Epiphone guitar. I used it on tracks 3, 7, 10, and 11 on Spiritual Warfare. It's a great guitar!!!”
TO PURCHASE RICHARD THOMAS CDs:
-King of Kings
-Sinners Prayer (feat. Tyler Thomas)
THANK YOU SO MUCH RICHARD!