Tomar and the FCs have only been kicking it as a band since 2015, but in those four years the soul band has infected Austin with their tunes and live performances. Front man Tomar Williams says, “I can honestly say Austin has been really, really good to us, overly good to us. It’s been amazing.” The city even declared February 7, 2018 Tomar and the FCs day.
Tomar and his “funky Caucasians” the FCs have been steadily growing a fan base here in Houston starting with monthly shows at Big Top Charlie’s, coinciding with Fistful of Soul, and eventually filling the Continental Club, where they will return this weekend. The band has even recently signed with Houston’s Splice Records further cementing their ties to Houston.
Williams has lived many facets of the music business in his long career. He was raised in a musical family, constantly playing music with his six siblings and frequently touring the famous Chitlin’ Circuit from the young age of 11. His parents are musicians and music dominated their household.
One year, with his tax return money, Williams' father went down to a pawn shop and bought a variety of instruments for his children without telling his wife. Williams remembers, “He told us “Don’t you tell your mom.” but it was in the garage and my mom would have to go to the garage to wash clothes so eventually she would find out.”
Find out she did and the parents went on to encourage all of their children to participate in the family band. “ I guess my dad was looking at it like, if I put instruments in these guys hands, then they’ll probably stay out of trouble.” says Williams.
The family band would pile into their station wagon and fine tune their vocal harmonies on the road. “We didn’t do the radio, we were the radio. My dad would always orchestrate it. He would start it out, give everybody a part to sing and a note to sing. If you didn’t stay on your note he would look in the rear view mirror and get a rise like “You didn’t stay on your note.” It was fun and that’s what we did as a family.”
Williams started out on drums but when his sister overheard him sing the family pushed him front and center and he has been singing with his brothers ever since. The siblings have had many ventures in the music business from owning a nightclub in Luling, working in the family record shop and producing rap albums in the studio in the back of the shop. The brothers worked on a string of major rap hits, many with Houston roots.
Working and living in music is what Williams and his whole family are all about and they don’t discriminate among genres, “It didn’t matter, music is just music in our house.” says the artist. “We just love the music we love the whole art of it.” His family continues to play together and incorporate the next generation, “That’s the best part when you can go full circle.” says Williams.
Though Williams has been singing since he was a little boy, the artist says, “My voice evolved into something in the past five years, so a decade ago, I hadn’t embraced my voice to where it’s at today. I don’t know if that comes from age or me just pushing it a different way but all of a sudden my voice evolved into this completely different voice.” The singer remembers his parent’s first reaction when seeing their son live with the FC’s and the shock they expressed at his vocal evolution.
One time even Williams didn’t recognize his own voice, “I was in the car and I turned on KUTX,and I’m not joking, I caught the last 25 seconds of a song that I swore up and down it was James Brown.” It turned out to be a song Williams had recorded with Adrian Quesada that he had not heard the final mix of.
Williams was backing his sister in law, Latasha Lee, on keyboards and admits he was constantly encouraged by others to try having his own band. The singer admits he had reservations, “I said no, I’m going to sit back here for a little bit and just chill. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do Tomar.” He adds, “I knew what I was doing. In time I knew I would definitely get, not the confidence, but the guidance where I wanted to go when I decided to do it.”
His friend and sax player for the band, Nicholas Bouklas, suggested to Williams that he hook up with some young guys he knew from Iowa who were playing lots of Booker T and the M.G.’S and The Meters tunes. Bouklas reassured the singer he remembers, “He said, “Just do one rehearsal and if you don’t like it just walk away.”’
Williams admits, “We were just throwing spaghetti against the wall.” Everyone in the room, and the building, quickly realized they had a good thing brewing. FC’s drummer Paul Kresowik describes it, “I think on both sides of it we were a bit skeptical at first but we met up and from the first moment I think all of us were excited about the project. It was just one of those serendipitous moments where we all look at each and said wow this could be something.”
The singer describes the melding of the band, “They are learning a lot from me and I’m learning a lot from them and we put it together and that’s what you get from these songs. We put our heads together, sometimes we knock heads you know and I think sometimes that can be a good thing because it brings the best out of one another you’re just not going to settle for the first thing you hear or the first thing you lay down you’re going to challenge one another.”
The band has been burning up the scene since gaining momentum. Splice records founder Shaun Brennan describes his awakening to the band, “This is a matter of every time they play, they are going to double their fan base.” Shaun had heard the band at Big Top on a sparsely attended evening and immediately felt something. He says, “I did the right thing of any super fan and bought the album.”
He invited them to play his River Revival festival, an annual festival that takes place on the Guadalupe River. After the group wowed their audience at the festival, Brennan immediately reached out to them about joining the Splice family. Tomar and the FC’s will release their third album this fall on Splice Records. Brennan says, “My whole goal was just to see if I can capture what they do live in a recording and see if we could get that energy on the album.”
Williams says the band’s new album, tentatively titled Rise Above, will see the band go beyond their patented soul sound to include some rock and even bluegrass styles. They plan on releasing singles and a music video in the up
coming months to give fans a taste of what to expect.
Williams continues, “We are really excited to get it out there for the people and hopefully people will receive it in good standards. We are looking forward to making our presence felt in Houston because Houston is a big music market and Houston, they love their soul music. They love their Suffers, their Archie Bell and if you are included in that number you can do pretty well in Houston.”
Tomar and the FCs will perform with The Nathan Quick Band Saturday, April 27 at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, doors open at 9:30 p.m. $18-29