Decathlete Thomas Hopkins Leads Left Hand Lions
Former Olympic Hopeful Turned Attention to Making Music in Santa Barbara
Thomas Hopkins, the lead singer and songwriter behind the folk/Americana band Left Hand Lions, actually arrived in Santa Barbara seven years ago with a different dream: to run the decathlon in the Olympics.
“Music was only in my life in the form of open mics and busking on State Street,” explained Hopkins, who medaled three times at the national championships but hung up his spikes after three years of training professionally with the Santa Barbara Track Club in order to pursue music. After he teamed up with guitarist William Adams, the Left Hand Lions emerged in 2017, playing gigs at the Brat Haus, the since-closed German sausage joint on State Street. “We just played for free beer and sausages and the exposure in a high-traffic area in town,” explained Hopkins, who was later joined by percussionist Dylan Carmody and bassist Curtis Worden.
They started playing a wider variety of venues and released a short album called Westward in 2019, whose song “Fire Girl” won Best Folk Music Video at the American Tracks Music Awards. Left Hand Lions were halfway through a new EP when the pandemic hit — they even had a short tour canceled last April — and are about to focus on that project again.
“Now we’re just counting down the days until we can sit back down with our producer to finally finish our EP,” said Hopkins, who just recently booked the sessions and is also starting to line up live shows. “It’s going to be a heck of a firecracker with a new rockin’ gritty sound.”
He’s learned other lessons from the pandemic as well, which he called an “eye-opener” for the music business. “By disrupting the way that music has been made and performed for several millennia, this pandemic has created a fork in the road for music,” explained Hopkins, who believes that a lot will go back to the way it was, but that much will remain different. “It’s almost like a small renaissance. Virtual shows, drive-in concerts, and every other workaround inspired by the pandemic aren’t going away, and some people prefer these mediums. It will be interesting to see how these forms of performance develop over the next decade.”
See lefthandlions.com and follow on Instagram @lefthandlions
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