When asked to describe himself, Whitmer Thomas—comic, musician, skateboarder, infamous Blink182 stan—will tell you, “I’m always gonna be the one whose mom called him ‘the Golden One,’ right before she died.” This is where his debut HBO comedy special, The Golden One, finds Whitmer: age thirty, investigating this sense (curse?) of destiny-as-identity. It’s been thirteen years since he left Alabama for LA, becoming a linchpin for LA’s young, independent comedy scene with Power Violence, the monthly show he hosted with friends. But he became haunted by the question: had he already peaked, just like his mom, singer in a local band with big ambitions that never made it out of the Flora-Bama Lounge in Gulf Shores? Rather than shy away from all that messy self-mythology, Whitmer tapped the source of it all through writing this one-man show featuring his own original music. Songs from The Golden One, a companion album of songs from the special, features Whitmer’s darkwave bangers, synthesizing relatable-content: millennial anxieties, therapy-speak jokes, and the annals of his own childhood tragedies.
Al Menne has a voice unlike any other. Soft and emotional with lyrical intimacy that calls back to Transatlanticism-era Death Cab for Cutie, fitting as they both share the same Pacific Northwest roots. Now based in Los Angeles by way of Seattle, Al has spent the last eight years as the lead singer of Indie-Rock band Great Grandpa. In-between responsibilities with Great Grandpa Al stayed busy, they’re a frequent collaborator on friends and peers projects, writing and featuring with Christian Lee Hutson (ANTI-), illuminati hotties (Snack Shack Tracks/Hopeless Records), and Whitmer Thomas (Hardly Art). They’re also a touring member of Christian’s band for headline tours and supporting slots with Bright Eyes. On top of all of the collaboration, Al has brought peers in to help with their own solo project recording with luminaries like Christian Lee Hutson and Melina Duterte (Jay Som), on new music that will become their upcoming debut-album. Whether intentional or not, their ability to expand and grow is something some could only hope to achieve in their lifetime, building the most beautifully heartbreaking music with people who mean more to them than anyone.