Who are Tomar and the FCs?
Tomar Williams got his start singing lead and playing various instruments on the Chitlin Circuit with his family soul band as a youngster. After establishing himself on the Austin music scene as a keyboardist in the late 80s and 90s, Tomar and his brother, Salih, formed the production team “Carnival Beats”. They went on to produce iconic Hip-Hop tracks for Big Mo “Barre Baby”, Mike Jones “Still Tippin”, and many more. Tomar also played keys in and helped lead the Black Ties, the backing band for Texas soul singer Latasha Lee.
In 2015, Tomar decided to return to his roots as a frontman and Tomar and the FCs was born. The band is made up of Tomar Williams (vocals), David Earl (organ), Mitch Fischels (bass), Andy Tenberg (guitar), and Paul Kresowik (drums). In October of 2015, the band self-recorded and released their first EP, “Day by Day”. Deborah Sengupta Stith of the Austin American-Statesman selected it as one of her top releases of the year writing, “Williams shows his own soul chops with searing vocals that drip with blood, sweat, and tears”.
The band opened 2016 with a NYE show at the historic Austin Continental Club They were selected to play an official showcase at SXSW in March, and in June, NPR Music picked Tomar and the FCs out of hundreds of Austin entries to represent the city for their Tiny Desk Concert Series. The band became mainstays around the Austin music scene with shows at The Continental Club, The White Horse, Antone’s, and many more. The band also built up a solid following throughout Texas with regular shows in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas.
“Heart Attack”, the band’s debut album, was released in November of 2016. It was recorded and mixed at Level One studio with Grammy winning artist/engineer Adrian Quesada (Brownout, Grupo Fantasma, and The Echocentrics). Sam Harrell of KUTX.org wrote that the album is, “pure soul, pure energy… Heart Attack, the single from the band’s latest album of the same name, is an electric three-minute ride of some of the purest blues/soul we’ve heard lately.” In December, the band was invited to play a live session before a studio audience for the KUTX After Hours series and record a video of the song “Do You Feel It” for vuhaus.com. Tomar and the FCs closed out 2016 with a return to the Continental Club to headline the NYE show.
In January of 2017, the band was selected as the KUTX Artist of the Month. The band’s songs were featured daily on the station and they were guest DJs on air. They also taped an episode of the podcast, “This Song”. In July, the band released their second video, “Shine Your Light”. The band has had a busy summer that will carry in to the fall with a number of scheduled festival experiences including Viva Big Bend and River Revival, all culminating with an appearance at the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival in October.
You can catch Tomar and the FCs at the Wine Down Finale with Magna Carda on Wednesday, September 27, as well as at South Congress Hotel on 9/7, King Bee on 9/10, Threadgill’s (with Bob Schneider) on 9/16 and River Revival on 9/29.
AMF EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
WITH PAUL KRESOWIK, TOMAR & THE FCS
How did the band come together in 2015?
I (Paul Kresowik [drums]) had formed an instrumental group called the FCs with David Earl (keys) and Mitch Fischels (bass), friends from Iowa, and Andy Tenberg (guitar), an Austin local. Nikolas Bouklas (former Sax player), also a friend of mine, heard about the group and came by for a session. Nik had played with Tomar in a band called Latasha Lee and the Blackties and knew Tomar was looking to branch out. Nik thought it would be a good fit and brought the FCs together with Tomar.
What were your musical backgrounds and projects before Tomar and the FCs?
Tomar grew up playing various instruments and singing with his family band, Sixx AM. He also helped produce Hip Hop with Carnival Beats (another family project with his brother Salih). He also played keys and/or sang backup with Austin bands including Hot Butter Rhythm, Malford Milligan, and many more. I was educated in soul music and introduced to Austin by the Iowa band The Diplomats of Solid Sound (Mitch also spent time with the Diplomats later on). I met Mitch and David, also Iowans, through their Indie Rock bands, The Wandering Bears and The Western Front. Andy was a member of the Austin band Chesterfield and I met him while bartending a funk jam at The Sahara Lounge in far east Austin.
What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned after being in the industry for 20+ years?
It’s important to genuinely like and trust the members of your band. Music is a business, but without true friendship, things rarely last long.
In 2016 you released your debut album, “Heart Attack”. What was it like working with Adrian Quesada?
It was an absolute pleasure! Adrian has incredible ears and is a consummate pro. We were thrilled with the result. He was extremely efficient and generous with his time and knowledge.
Were there any surprises you encountered during the recording process?
Adrian is much more modest and approachable than many people with his musical credits and experiences. Austin is lucky to have him. He also has a dog that drifts in and out of his studio. I forgot the dog’s name but I think it’s a Chihuahua.
You were selected to represent Austin for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series last year. What was that experience like?
We’re big fans of Bob Boilen (creator of the Tiny Desk Concert) and the Tiny Desk Concerts, so it was a surprise and an honor. They selected three other Austin bands from Tiny Desk videos and we all played at the Cactus Cafe. It was a very eclectic show. The room was packed and the energy was incredible. They definitely captured the spirit of the Austin music scene.
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
That’s a tough one. It depends on the night and my mood. However, right now I’d say “Do You Feel It”. Tomar usually breaks it down to one knee at the end and pours out his soul.
What’s been your biggest musical accomplishment to date?
I think making the album “Heart Attack”. We’re still evolving as a band and perhaps we’ll be able to make some better records down the line, but it definitely captured our sound at that time. It’s also all original music, which I think is an accomplishment for a newer band.
Who is your favorite artist right now?
Besides Adrian Quesada? I know several of us are listening to Chance the Rapper. He’s been making some great music the last couple of years. We’re also doing a show in October with Durand Jones and the Indications. We love their new record and that should be a great show.
What’s your favorite spot in Austin to perform at?
That’s a three-way tie between The White Horse, C-Boys Heart & Soul, and The Continental Club. There are so many more Austin venues that we love though.
Last song you had on repeat?
We’re thinking about covering Marvin Gaye’s “Distant Lover”. So I’ve had the live version on repeat. Tomar brought it to our attention and people absolutely lose it when Marvin starts the melody. Incredible stuff.
If you could switch places with any living person for a day, who would it be and why?
Anthony Bourdain. I really enjoy travel and eating. He seems to do quite a bit of both.
How did you get involved with Austin Music Foundation?
Andy Tenberg was instrumental in that regard. He’s known Alex Vallejo for many years and has consulted AMF and Alex on numerous band related questions.
What does it mean to be named AMF Artist of the Month?
It’s wonderful! AMF is an exceptional resource for us and the Austin music community. To have ya’ll recognize us out of all the amazing Austin bands is truly humbling. Hopefully, it will get us a few new listeners as well.
What’s next for you? When can we expect new music from the band?
It’s a busy fall with shows at 3TEN, ACL Festival, and F1. We’re also working on a second record. We’ve recorded the basic tracks for several tunes and are currently refining them. We should have the record out later this year or early next year.