From Mogadishu to a Hard Rock Band

Drive On Podcast
From Mogadishu to a Hard Rock Band
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Brad Thomas served over 20 years in the Army as a Ranger during the Battle of Mogadishu and later went on to the Delta Force. Brad has since left the Army and is pursuing his passion for music while helping veterans at the same time.

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Transcript

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let's get on with the show. Hi everybody today my guest is Brad Thomas. Brad served over 20 years in the Army as an Army Ranger during the battle of Mogadishu. And later went on to the Delta Force. Brad has since left the Army and has pursued his passion, music, to help other veterans, which we'll talk about later on in this episode. So welcome to the show, Brad.  

Brad Thomas:    00:00:41    Thank you very much for having me, man.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:43    Yeah, absolutely. So let's talk a little bit about your background.  Why you got into the military? Did you always want to be in the military or is this something that you kinda fell into somewhere along the line? How did that happen?  

Brad Thomas:    00:00:56    I had zero desire to be in the military. From the time I was a little kid, I was in love with music and playing music and creating music. And my parents took me to see a whole bunch of live music when I was really young. And so that was kind of my passion and all the way up until about the time that I was 12 and started reading books about Vietnam and Rangers in Vietnam, and the war side of things started to really kind of excite me. And anyway, I still was continuing to pursue music well into my late teens, very early twenties. And there was a culmination of three things that happened: December of 1989 (1) the Rangers jumped into Panama and it was on TV and it was like, wow, that's pretty cool.  

Brad Thomas:    00:01:50    (2) The band that I was in was kind of in a position that it could have moved up and done something just kind of fell apart and you're as strong as your weakest link. So I was in a situation where I [thought do I] start over again and take two more years to build a group of guys to play music, or what do I do now? And the third thing was I had a buddy that had joined the air force and he was home. I think it was his first time being home after he joined. and it was like on a Christmas leave or Christmas vacation, whatever you want to call it. And he told me about these guys that came around to recruit from his basic training class to rescue pilots that were trapped behind enemy lines. And it was like a special unit. And it was kind of a combination of those three things that led me to the military actually.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:02:46    Yeah, that's interesting. And I always like to hear a background story of where people fell into what they ended up doing in the military, because it's never the path that you always think that you're going to take; you started off with your passion for music and then next thing you know, here's this guy talking about rescuing downed pilots and all that kind of stuff. And you totally change your mindset on that.   

Brad Thomas:    00:03:14    Once I was 18 and registered with selective service, then the Army recruiters, the military recruiters would just start calling “Hey, what are you going to do?” And the Army guy was pressuring me hard to like to join and be in the Army band. And I'm like, yeah, dude, I don't think that you guys play the kind of music that I play. So I don't think that that's even, he said, well, what do you like to play? And I'm like, well, I'm in a thrash metal band and you know, it's been going for a few years now. So it's like, well we have a band that tours and does all this stuff and anyway, it wasn't of interest to me. So I blew that guy off every time he would call.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:00    Yeah. So, what got you into going into the Army Rangers and eventually into the Delta Force, what about the Rangers, where you started off?  

Brad Thomas:    00:04:11    Sure. So originally, because my buddy was in the Air Force and I literally knew nobody that was in the military. Nobody from my family had been in the military. None of my extended relatives were in the military. So I was completely kind of sheltered from what that was and what it was like. I went to the Air Force recruiter and he and I went back and forth for probably a month. And he flat out lied to me and actually signed the paperwork. And with the premise that he was going to give me some sort of contract to guarantee the right that I could try for this special unit. And so he told me, well, if you sign, then I can work a contract for you et cetera, et cetera. So anyway, I was leaving his office one day after about a month of kind of every week going up there and arguing with the guy and everything else.  

Brad Thomas:    00:05:04    And I just didn't want to, I didn't know how it worked. So I thought in the middle of basic training and they're like, Hey, you're a good cook. You're going to Alaska to flip burgers. You know, like, I didn't want to do that. So anyway, I was leaving one day and the Army recruiter pulled me aside and he said, Hey man, what are you doing? What's going on over there? And I said, well, I signed up, but the guy won't give me a contract. He said he would, and he's not. And he goes, well, what do you want to do? I can give you a contract today. And I said, I don't know, like Delta Force. And he was like, okay, you can’t do that. You have to do something first, like special forces. And I said, okay, I'll do that. And he goes, well, you can't do that either. You got to do something first, like a Ranger, and that's literally how it started.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:51    Okay. So it was a bit of a crash course in Army MOSs and how to get into the military, which I have to imagine is not the most common thing to know about either for other 17, 18, 19 year old kids who are trying to join the military, unless they knew someone who was in the military, they probably didn't know about that either. And so, the recruiters probably could pull a fast one on you if they wanted to get you in there.  

Brad Thomas:    00:06:24    That was also at a time when the military wasn’t looking for people, they were very selective and there were drawdowns and everything else. I mean, even though Panama had happened, we weren't at war. They could be very selective about who they chose. So it was, don't say that you use drugs. If you've got any alcohol related events, you're not getting in. If you've got any criminal activity you're not getting in and, et cetera, et cetera. So anyway, that was kind of the start point.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:06:55    Yeah. And that's a big difference too, fast forward post 9/11, where there were at a point at some years where they're accepting just about everybody.  

Brad Thomas:    00:07:08    You know, total criminals and everything else. The same thing happened. I joined in May of ‘98. That's when I actually signed up that summer, Desert Shield kickoff. And so all of a sudden we were ramping up sending all kinds of troops over to Kuwait as a staging area for what would become Desert Storm. And so over that summer, I joined in May. I couldn't get in until November of ‘90. And over that summer, the flood gates opened because they realized they needed more people. And so they let everybody, anybody and everybody in. So by the time I got to basic training in November of ‘90, it was exactly like there was a criminal element. There were all kinds of characters there that probably had no business being in the service.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:08:00    Right, right. So you go through basic training and then, as I mentioned earlier in the episode, you were in the battle of Mogadishu, which most people probably think about the book and the movie Black Hawk Down from that time period. Obviously once when Hollywood gets their hands on something that you're getting a different version from what actually happened, but not enough to take away from the movie because that was a great movie. I like to hear what happened during that time period from your perspective?  

Brad Thomas:    00:08:37    Well, again, I think whenever people ask me about Mogadishu, I have to start at the beginning and without making it a long-winded thing; I try to generally give people information that they don't know. They don't know from the movie or the book. It wasn't things that were included in that or just kind of basic facts about people thinking one thing and it's actually another, but I try to remind people that it was a peacetime military. Most of the people that I served with were on one term, a four year contract, they were in for college money. And the GI bill was a very attractive thing for people that couldn't afford to go to school. So people were signing up all over the place to get their college paid for and things like that.  

Brad Thomas:    00:09:27    So, we weren't led by warriors. We were led by people that I think even at the most senior level, most of the Vietnam people had moved on by then. So anyway, it was just a different flavor. When I talk about the actual Mogadishu mission and the things that we were doing, I try to explain as an example: nowadays you go out to do a patrol. Everybody has a radio, you've got multiple things overhead that you can tap into to give you situational awareness. So there was nothing; there weren't individual radios, once the bullets started to fly, you can't communicate verbally. We didn't have <inaudible>, we didn't even have earplugs. So you're talking about a volume of fire in RPG explosions and things like that, that it made communicating completely impossible.  

Brad Thomas:    00:10:28    So there was no real game plan for that. What happens if this, how are we going to disseminate information to our subordinates or to get the battle moving to get people to go from one place to the other, et cetera, et cetera. And so it was very chaotic. Most people didn't know what was going on from moment to moment and people were getting shot, people were getting killed and all of that was kind of happening at the same time. So the majority of my time on the ground, I literally didn't know what I was doing other than trying to engage people that I knew were definitely trying to engage us.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:11:13    It's interesting. I've always thought that communication is one of the greatest assets that you have in the military and being able to communicate whether it's with another ground force on the ground with you fighting the same battle or even to air assets, helicopters or aircraft or other things like that. Being able to communicate is huge. You know, if you don't have that, that's definitely a big problem. And it sounds like that was probably a primary problem for you guys on the ground.   

Brad Thomas:    00:11:49    For sure. And I don't think that because of where we were as a military, that we even knew enough to say let's develop a contingency in case this happens. I think it was because we do live fire training. We do things like that. And the leaders are giving verbal communication and nonverbal communication. And even at nighttime, we've got a means to signal our position or whatever. It might be, things like that. And all of a sudden we're in an environment in the middle of the streets, in the middle of the city and the entire city seemingly is against us. And so what do we do? Do we jump over the wall and get inside of a building and fortify that and hold it down. And until we can get other troops there, what's the plan? And so we didn't even really have a contingency plan. And again, it's not that we went in half cocked. It was that the military wasn't in a place back then, like it is now, it wasn't an experienced war fighting machine.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:12:57    Yeah. The other thing that I found interesting watching the movie and I'm sure it was different in real life, but from the movie, one of the things that I took away was, looking at the individuals who were fighting against the Americans. You know, it was another one of those situations just like Afghanistan and Iraq, where the combatants were not wearing uniforms, they were not clearly identified as these are the bad guys, they blend in with the civilian population, just like anybody else. And that I can imagine would be kind of a shock as well to somebody who's going over there.  

Brad Thomas:    00:13:43    Yeah. I think the Rangers at that time were a very hard physically disciplined, mentally tough group of kids for the lack of a better term. But we were really a young group of kids. It was running around, it had been put through a lot of physically and mentally challenging training. but as an example not knowing what you don't know, like I was never educated about the law of land warfare. What if there's a woman in the middle of the street that's pointing out your position to enemy fighters? So, we were very good at making people quit that weren't mentally and physically hard as nails, but we weren't really training and educating our troops the way that we should have been had we really known what we were doing. And so it's hard to just say, Hey, Mogadishu the battle,   

Brad Thomas:    00:14:46    without understanding the mind frame of where people were. So when I was in that situation, all I could think was, man, don't make me have to do this. Like, a woman and a crowd of people and men and women all mixed together and okay, do I just let everybody shoot my guys and us, or how do I deal with this situation? And so even after the fact, nobody, because there wasn't any sort of PTSD counseling, there wasn't any sort of exit. Hey, what did you think of your deployment? You know, there wasn't any of that stuff. Most of the guys went on to think that they had done criminal things or that there were things that happened that weren't necessarily to spec. And that's an example too, of again, I think that guys going overseas now probably have a lot better of an idea. Not that I know where they're going right now, but they probably have a lot better idea of those types of things than we did back then.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:56    Yeah. I know before I went to Afghanistan that there were briefings on briefings, on briefings of everything from their culture and other language type things and rules that we were supposed to follow as far as rules of engagement and all that kind of stuff. So stuff that you were talking about, which was sort of confusing over there, we did cover a lot of that. And so that might've been a lesson learned from that experience where you guys went over there and weren't really sure. Hopefully the leadership learned from that and passed that on to the future generation. So that way we didn't have to deal with that problem where we're second guessing ourselves saying, can I pull the trigger or whatever; we actually had a whole checklist of things that we had to do before we could pull the trigger. And it was like, kind of like ingrained in our heads that we knew what we were supposed to do. And so, even things like you're talking about an unarmed person who was pointing out your position to the enemy fighters, like what do you do? You know, how do you stop that? You know, that's a tricky thing  

Brad Thomas:    00:17:08    For sure just dealing with people, are we flex cuffing people, are we allowed to, what are those types of things? And much later in my career, when I got to Delta, that was completely different, you're getting a briefing from everybody on the legal aspect of things, define, kill capture, define the ROE to an Nth degree so that you knew exactly what you could and couldn't do. And we would talk about different situations and then our training mirrored that too. So we wouldn't just, Hey, hear this stuff. We would actually go out and practice a lot of it. So we had the ability to do that. And that was a great thing.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:49    So when you went to the recruiter and you said you wanted to go Delta Force and he's like, well, you can't do that. And then you gotta start low and work your way up. You were in the Rangers when you went over to Somalia, is that correct? 

Brad Thomas: Yes. 

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. So, then eventually you decided you wanted to try for Delta, how did that progression take place? 

Brad Thomas:  I was actually talking about this earlier. I did a podcast with the officials of SOCOM like CSM and all those. So it's actually really cool, but we talked a lot about kind of the professional development piece and how that moved along. But again, being kind of an idiot as to how the military worked and everything else.  

Brad Thomas:    00:18:37    First of all, I kind of expected the Rangers to be something a little different than what it actually ended up being. And that kind of happened to me my whole career. I would get to a place and I would think, okay, this is going to be the thing that I think it's going to be. And it never really fully met my expectations. And my expectations may have been completely unrealistic based on things that I had seen in Hollywood or on movies or read about or whatever it might've been. But I realized very quickly when I got to the Rangers that even though my ultimate goal was to be a Delta Force operator, I can't just get there. I have to be the best that I can be at what I'm doing right now today.  

Brad Thomas:    00:19:25    So when I walked into the Rangers, as an example, you've got about six to 12 months before they send you to Ranger school, which is a prerequisite to be a team leader or in any sort of leadership position in the Ranger regiment. So, okay. Now they're basically preparing me, mentally physically, to be able to do my job. There is a brand new Ranger, but also to prepare me to go to Ranger school and be able to successfully complete that. So thinking about what I need to do to be in Delta Force is nowhere in my lexicon at that point. And it just turned into, I just need to be as good as I can be right now today. So when I talk about the progression of what it took to get to the elite level military, first of all, I tell people like being tier one doesn't mean you're better than anyone else being in a tier one unit really just has to do with your recall status, how soon you can be out the door, if something happens and how you're funded.  

Brad Thomas:    00:20:31    And so the funding on the tier one side, isn't something public. So people can't see where, or what dollars are being spent on or things like that. So it doesn't mean better. It doesn't mean that because I'm in Delta Force, I'm better than somebody else; doesn't mean any of that. I try to liken it to the NFL and I think that's just an example that most people understand, right? So in Brad's brain, when Brad went to the recruiter, Ralph was like, Hey, I just want to be in the NFL. And the guy was like, well, wait a minute, did you play Peewee football? You know, did you play high school football? And so I would kind of correlate the Rangers as being like a kind of a division, high school football. And then I went to the recon detachment, which was a smaller group of more highly trained, special skills group of maybe about 20 guys.  

Brad Thomas:    00:21:34    And that was like college level football. And so you don't just go to the NFL. You've got to do a whole lot of work before that. So I got to Delta for selection after eight years in the military. And that's probably pretty average. I think under that, there are not a lot of those guys who got there probably on the early side of how long it takes. Most people are like that in that eight to 12 year window. So, you're talking about people that have been around the block, they've done stuff. Whether nowadays they're deploying with other units, they're doing a lot of those things, but it took a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work and a lot of being really good at being a Ranger, to get to that next level. So if you can't perform here, you're not going to perform there.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:22:27    Interesting. And that progression is true in a lot of things too and not even just in the Army, in general, they have a crawl, walk, run phase for four things, and you don't start off running on a live fire range when you've never shot a weapon before. You have to start off in that crawl phase and learn the fundamentals and learn how to do all that stuff. So that way you can crawl and then walk, and then you can run down somewhere down the line. So same thing, it seems like with that career progression and I think that probably applies to a lot of things in life too, where sometimes people will see the success stories. It looks like it's an overnight success where this person's business takes off and it's flourishing and they're doing great. And they're like, oh, well, I want to be that guy. You know, I want to flip the switch and automatically have this multimillion dollar business, but what they don't see is all the hard work all the years and years of maybe either failures or other hard work that went into them getting to that stage. And so sometimes things are disheartening too, to see someone else be so successful and not realize how unsuccessful they had to be to be that successful, you know?  

Brad Thomas:    00:23:47    Yeah. Everybody wants to be the next Post Malone and YouTube viral sensation without putting in the years of hard work that it takes to get that level of ability and talent and everything else, you know? 

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, for sure. 

Brad Thomas: A lot of our culture today is very much like I just want to skip to the front of the line. And even I was in that scene basically in what I told the recruiter was Hey, I'm ready to be in the NFL.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:15    Yeah, no, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, no, you thought you were and you wanted to be there and it sounded great. It sounded like kicking in the doors and doing all the cool stuff sounded like it was awesome and that's exactly what you wanted to do, but the recruiter knew and other people knew too that you just weren't ready for that. Looking back now, I'm sure you realize that you weren't ready for that either at that point in your life.  

Brad Thomas:    00:24:43    Exactly. You know, that's how I say it was a little bit disappointing when I got there and it was like, okay, I was expecting it to be more of that more of something or whatever it might have been, but it was also a good reality check, you know?  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:24:58    Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. And I'm glad you brought that up too, because it does make a lot of sense. And I think people, especially getting out of the military, people who might've done their four years or their 10 years or 20 years, whatever they'd done in the military, they might think that they could just hit the ground running on top of the corporate ladder or wherever they decide to go. Sometimes they might need to have a little slice of humility there and take it down a notch and say that maybe they're not quite ready for that top level. Maybe they need to take a step back and see what it's like in the civilian world, in the corporate world or whatever they're getting into before they can accelerate and move up that ladder, you know?   

Brad Thomas:    00:25:44    So I also think we're at a unique time with the number of deployments a lot of guys and gals have from the service. And it became, in my mind, it became a metric for how good someone was; oh, that guy's got 18 deployments or this guy's got 12 deployments. I know people that are every bit of that. And I try to tell the younger people as they're getting in and now we're kind of toning back from war and the deployments and everything else, but the corporate world, the business world, the music industry, you name it. Like they don't care how many people you killed or how many deployments you went on or what awards you have or anything else. And the same thing applies everywhere else in life. You've got to start someplace and you've got to work and sacrifice to get to the next level, whatever that might be for you.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:26:48    Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. I briefly mentioned earlier in the episode that you're now pursuing your passion for music, and you talked a little bit about how you were into music before the military. When you were in the military, did you keep up with the music that you're into or did it kinda fade away while you were in the military and then you picked it up later? How did that progress?  

Brad Thomas:    00:27:18    I didn't have the time to devote to it that I did prior to, but when I initially joined, I basically got rid of, or I think I had my parents sell all my stuff. I tried to get rid of it and sell it to friends and things like that. And about six months into my time in the Rangers all the people that I was serving with at the time knew that I played music and music was a huge part of me and I was in a bar. And, one of my buddies whether he was trying to call me out or put me on the spot, I think he knew that I could play and maybe I had a guitar and an amp some stuff then, but he went and told the band that Hey, this guy almost like, “make a wish,” right?  

Brad Thomas:    00:28:08    Like this guy just wants to be up on stage and play one song before he dies of cancer or whatever. It was almost like that type of thing. So I'm drinking and I am at the bar and all of a sudden I hear the band calling my name. Hey, come to the stage, what the hell is going on. So I go up to the stage and, I mean, the guys talk a little bit about what songs do you know, what you know, that kind of thing. And we played a tune and by the end of it, people were shaking my hand and going crazy and all that. So that kind of fueled the whole thing. And there were also some things, musically the soundtrack of our lives at that time in a very unstable, uncertain environment, the soundtrack was Alison Chainz, Nirvana, and Stone Temple Pilots, and all this really great Soundgarden, what was really great, powerful music that that's still pretty powerful and endures. And that was something that I didn't really necessarily understand the mark that it made on me then, I was still into, at that time, I was still into the mid eighties thrash metal stuff, and that had kind of faded out and grunge and other stuff had taken over MTV and in all of that. So anyway, that was kind of how I started the whole rekindling process.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:29:36    And so, after getting out of the military, how did you get back into music and start a band and all that kind of stuff, how did that happen or did it just sort of fall into it? Where were you expecting it to happen? Or was it something that came out of the blue?  

Brad Thomas:    00:29:59    I think in the early 2000s, I started accumulating more gear and guitars and things like that and had a little more time to be able to devote to it and things like that. So in between deploying and other stuff that I was doing I had downtime that I could spend and dedicate to doing that. So by the time the mid 2000s came around, I was playing in bands in Fayetteville and ended up 2007 to 2010 was actually in a band that was opening for all the national acts that came through Fayetteville. And so got to open for like Seven Mary Three and Evans Blue. And I'm trying to think Vanilla Ice was one of them, although I didn't get to play that show, but all the national acts that were coming through there, we would get to play with. And that was really kind of like, okay, I'm back in this, I need to do something. It was original music. It wasn't my original music. And then by 2010 came time for me to kind of separate and move to where I was going to move and I moved to New York and then I started the whole thing over again there.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:31:18    Okay. So, the band you're in now, what's the name of the band?  

Brad Thomas:    00:31:23    Silence and Light  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:31:25    Silence and Light. Okay. So, tell us about how that came about and how that band formed and what it is that you're doing now, as far as with veterans and everything like that.

Brad Thomas:    00:31:39    So after 2010, for a handful of years, I was just enjoying doing what I was doing and having fun and meeting people and hanging out and all that kind of jazz and my wife and I, she would see this accumulation of music equipment and be like it's a shame you're not doing something with this. And at the same time I wasn't necessarily struggling, but definitely that sense of purpose that I had when I was in the military, wasn't as strong. Like, what am I doing? How can I fix whatever it is? You know, there's veterans suicide, it's skyrocketing, and there are all kinds of things. Do I start a foundation? Do I run for president? You know, what is it? And so my wife finally I already said it, but she was like, it's a shame.  

Brad Thomas:    00:32:33    You're not doing something with this. And it didn't dawn on me then. But the next day I was traveling into New York City to meet my buddy, Jason Everman, who was a Ranger, served about the same time that I did, and then went on to be a special forces guy and did some other stuff. He played in both Nirvana and Soundgarden prior to joining the military. And he and I had been friends for a long time. I was going to meet him and we were going to go to a Mastodon concert and beforehand we're at the bar and having some cocktails and they just said Hey man, I want to do this thing. I want to start a music project, whatever it is, if it's a band to band, it's me and you, whatever, I want to do something. And I want to take the proceeds from that and contribute those to veterans  

Brad Thomas:    00:33:19    and first responder charitable organizations. I don't want to stand up a foundation and ask people for money. I just want to be able to do this. And also be an example to guys that are struggling and guys and gals that are struggling and looking for some sort of purpose to say, Hey, if I can do this with all of the baggage that I've got from deploying, if I can do it, you can do it too. So that's really how it started. I set up a social media page and then it kind of grew organically where each of the guys that ended up coming into the band was connected through social media, we would get together in person, kind of hang out and feel each other out. And RA is, can you play Kenya?  

Brad Thomas:    00:34:01    You know, all that kind of stuff. And that's really how it grew all the way to the point of having a multi Grammy award-winning producer contact us and say, Hey, I want to help out, what can I do? And you know, that was an awesome experience. So, we're getting ready to launch our second album and get all that recorded and finished up and drop that. And hopefully the same deal. People buy a song. We're taking the proceeds of that 100% of the proceeds from that we're giving them, to two different special operations veterans, first responder, charitable organizations.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:34:41    So, you're saying all the proceeds from those songs go to these special operation, non-profit organizations, that directly help veterans who they support, right? 

Brad Thomas:    00:35:00    Yep 100%.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:35:02    So a hundred percent. So as to the listeners, if you didn't catch that a hundred percent of the money for these sales go to helping out veterans. So definitely check it out. I'm gonna have links to all of this stuff in the show notes, too, so you guys can go check out all this stuff in veterans support, Brad and his band and his music, and help out the veterans and listen to some great music along the way, too. 

Brad Thomas:    00:35:33    If people ask all the time, how can you help and contribute to the band? First of all, our first album costs about $35,000 to record, and that came out of our collective pockets. That's everything from hotel to travel to rehearsal time and hotels and travel for that to the recording costs of studio and paying engineers and paying mixers and everything else. So we're basically saying we're putting in the money. All you gotta do is buy it. And we're going to take a hundred percent of that and give it back. But if people want to help the band, they can get on our website through our social media, through Google, you can find us everywhere. If you buy merchandise, that's something that we're using to help recoup some of the costs and be able to, at least maybe we make enough so that we can pay for the studio and mastering, or things like that. But, it's a music business for a reason. It's a business and it's not free.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:36:37    Yeah, absolutely. So, things like t-shirts and hats and all that kind of stuff go to help support you guys so that all of this cost seems pretty expensive to lay out that money.  

Brad Thomas:    00:36:51    Yeah. We sell a lot of t-shirts to recoup that. And the last thing I'll say, at least before we sign off, is the different charitable organizations contributing to, there are two, one of them is called Warrior's Heart, and you can check out Warrior's Heart.org, but it's a physical facility in Texas. And I think they're actually getting ready to stand up the second one. It's not just for veterans. It could be for first responders. It could be from people that we're helping, fight the COVID battle and things like that that have just lived through stuff and have post-traumatic stress. And the reason that I love Warrior's Heart is that it's kind of a holistic approach on how they help people that are struggling. Number one PTSD isn't usually just something going on in somebody's head, it's tied up in a big ball of nasty shit, like alcohol abuse or drug, or substance abuse of some sort.  

Brad Thomas:    00:37:48    And so they get people clean. They help people get clean, they start PTSD counseling, and then they use art as a form of therapy. And I absolutely love that because when I play the guitar I'm in that flow state, it's the only thing I can do aside from maybe cooking or grilling that I just am kind of doing my thing. And I don't have anything else in my head. And so it could be sculpting. It could be welding a huge thing. It could be painting artwork, writing music, you name it, but they use that as a form of therapy. And that really resonated with me. So that's one of the organizations, the other is Marine Raider foundation. And that really started because one of my band mates, a former Mar SOC Raider and they directly contribute to the families of the fallen. And if they need to get travel across the country to attend Memorial services or need hotels paid for that type of thing, they take care of all of that. So, that's what we're doing, that's who we're contributing to. And I don't think for the next album I don't think we're going to change who we're contributing to, but so it should still hold up by the time the album releases.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:39:07    No, that's awesome. And those sound like two great organizations to be supporting. You've mentioned Warrior's Heart, how they use art therapy as the form of counseling, or therapy that they do there.  You mentioned how when you're playing the guitar,  you're in that state, that kind of flow state where you're just not worried about other things in the world. And you're there playing guitar kind of present in the moment,  

Brad Thomas:    00:39:39    Like my pacifier.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:39:42    I mean, you say that probably jokingly, but it's almost like that because I've done the same thing where I would pick up a paint brush and I start painting and, next thing a couple of hours have gone by and I'm like, I don't even realize it because I'm just so focused in that moment. And you know, some people may not think that art, whether it's music or welding or sculpting or painting or whatever it is, they may not think that that is something that's going to work for them. But I just say, give it a try and try different things too. Because you know, one form of art may not resonate with you, but another one might, and it's definitely something worth trying, especially if you're having trouble focusing, staying in that present in that moment. It's really a great opportunity to help yourself and create cool stuff in the process.  

Brad Thomas:    00:40:45    And you don't know how it's going to connect with other people. And that to me has been one of the unintended consequences of releasing music is the number of people that hit me up and say, man, I heard that song and God that it connect with me and I'm in the middle of the gym, on the treadmill and started crying when I heard it; it was just this release, but to hear people say things like that, or I just love the way those things make me feel when I listen to it or whatever it might be. So that's an unintended consequence, but we're glad that it does connect with people. The other thing I'll say is, I didn't start this so that I could be like a famous rock star guy or anything else.  

Brad Thomas:    00:41:30   I like my quiet life and everything else. And ultimately I became the person doing all the media and all the talking and everything else. So, the reason I put myself out there publicly was so that other people could say, man, that guy has deployed eight times from Mogadishu all the way through multiple times that then GWOT and I've got a lot of damage. I've got a lot of trauma and things that I've lived through and dealt with and lived through the dark days and everything else. And if I can find purpose in giving back to the community that I served in, and that I loved so much, it's super fulfilling. And I can tell people that if they find something or a way to give back or a way to contribute, they're going to feel a whole lot better about the whole experience.  

Brad Thomas:    00:42:24    But the whole point of me being public about it was to say, I can do this. You can do it too, because I'll put my combat resume up against anybody's and you know, the things that I live with and dealt with. So I wanted to be an example and the Rangers have the whole Rangers lead the way and lead by example not do, as I say that kind of thing. I wanted to be that person and say, look at me, use me as an example of someone that you can try and emulate that way.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:42:59    And I think that's a great place to close. I think that that message is really perfect for the listeners of this podcast. You know, we try to make sure that people know that they're not alone and that there's other people who have gone through similar things and that there is a way to come up better on the other side. And sometimes it's just a matter of finding that sense of purpose. You know, you might lose that after you get out of the military and by finding some way to give back, like you're doing, or like what I'm doing with this podcast, or what thousands of other people have found to do to give back to other veterans or just their communities other things that you could do find something that gives you a sense of purpose, makes you feel good and passionate about what you're doing. Once you have that, there's no stopping you, you know? And I really truly believe that.   

Brad Thomas:    00:44:02    Just be healthy, positive, creative; it doesn't fix all your problems. It doesn't solve all your problems, but it starts you down a path that's a very healthy, positive and creative thing.   

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:15    Yeah, absolutely. Well, Brad, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. You said you had a website; I'd like to have you mentioned what the website is and any social media handles you might have before we close this out, just so people know where to find you.

Brad Thomas:    00:44:31    Sure. So Silent Sunlight Official on Instagram, Brad Thomas Official on Instagram. We've got a Facebook page for silence and light. We've got a website which is silent sunlight music.com. We've got CDs that we're selling on Amazon. So if you're a person that likes a physical copy of something, you can get CDs on Amazon, you can stream our music anywhere you would stream it. It's on every music channel known to man. So, I try and tell them this, like if you sell a song on iTunes for 99 cents, you don't get 99 cents, you get about 63 cents. And so when you buy something, that's obviously contributing a lot greater than streaming something and unless you're streaming in the millions, it's not a really lucrative thing. So we tried to encourage people to buy it, but we also didn't want to make people buy it. And we'd rather people be able to have it and access it. And those that get the point go on and buy it. If you don't want to buy it, stream it. We don't care. You know, you're contributing either way.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:45:43    Wonderful. Yeah. So definitely you don't have to buy it and that's coming from me. Brad's not telling me to say that at all. You don't have to buy it, but buy it. Thanks again, Brad, for coming on the show, sharing your story and showing that there is hope for people who are struggling, who have had a tough time, and that they can find a sense of purpose of their own and come out with a better life afterwards, you know?  

Brad Thomas:    00:46:16    Absolutely. And thank you for having me on, thanks for letting me come on your platform and thank you for what you're doing in helping get the word out for people like me too. So thank you.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:46:28    Absolutely. Thank you very much. All right. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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