There are three things you can guarantee when attending a music festival: music, art, and community. Homebass Music Festival
founder, Brian Thomas,
has started a legacy from the ground up based solely on bringing people together with those three elements. We sit down with him today with to get an inside look on the journey he has embarked upon to create this community and the dreams he has for its future.AMF: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how music became so important in your life?Brain
: Wow, that’s a great first question. Ya know, we all kind of grow up listening to music. It’s that one thing that everyone likes some way or another. It naturally brings us together. I think that was how it was so easy for me to fall in love with it. when I first started throwing events when I was 16, I always put together a type of community event without a headliner DJ. It was always about bringing people together, weather it was just my buddy playing for us or we had a head liner. There are vibes and songs that bring me back to that time that has kind of built a foundation around where I am today in music and my career.AMF: Sounds like your consistency with community and with music has led you to the success you have had over the recent years. You said your first event was at 16, that’s impressive. What was that event and how many people were there?Brain
: So my first event was actually a keg party in a field we called it “The Lagoon Crunk Cookout.” Everyone kind of got together and planned on what they were bringing and it was just a big success in the school I was in. After that, as I was going into my senior year I decided I wanted to buy out night clubs and throw teen parties. I approached my first night club called Palms Nightclub, right next to Peabodys over by USF. I kind of just told the owner my plan about how I wanted to buy the place out, take all the liquor off the shelves, book a DJ and throw an event where teens can come together. He gave me the okay for Sunday night because they didn’t do much business that night anyway. After we got the okay a couple of my friends and I got together and did a photo shoot for the invites. We called it “The Black and a White Party” and we sold them to everyone to cover the cost of the event. We ended up selling about 300 tickets. I decided it was something I wanted to continue to do, so I contacted another school saying “hey, what do you guys think about bringing the schools under one roof for a party?” We ended up doing that 3 or more times that year, selling about 400-500 tickets each time. After that, I graduated and what happened then was we handed down the torch to the next group of seniors to keep it going. They came back to me saying “let’s make this thing bigger.” I booked the old Amphitheatre that burnt down selling about 600 tickets and after that it just blossomed. I booked every club you could think of in Tampa. Bringing multiple different schools together. It actually grew so much that we were doing these in Sarasota, Bradenton, St. Pete & Clearwater doing 3-4 events a night. Hitting about 2000 people. From then on out the Brian Thomas Party
just kind of kept going and has lived on. It will always be out there somewhere. As I got older I moved on to more of the nightclub events and DJ shows, but because of the success with my high school parties I had made life long connections with clubs all throughout the west coast of Florida.AMF: Talk about finding what you’re good at young and hitting the ground running. Your whole journey is inspiring, not only for people trying to follow in your footsteps but for anyone out there trying to start something from the ground up. You kind of got into my next question already. I was going to ask you how you got into promoting music events?Brain:
Yeah, you know the following and loyalty that I got from the people in high school who loved my parties and came together as a community carried over with me. We were booking people like Alesso, Avichi, Pauly D
, before the EDM boom took over. Far East Movement dropped “Like a G Six” and everything changed. Everyone wanted a taste of EDM.AMF: So with you throwing and promoting EDM events is that how you got into doing the music festival trips?Brain:
Well, yes, I was throwing events and working in the club selling tables and tickets and I realized that yeah it was really cool people paying 500-1000 dollars for table but why spend that money on one night in the club when you can spend the same amount of money on a whole weekend with amazingly talented artist. I went to my first music festival which was EDC Orlando
2012 and I had also experienced my first camping festival in 2012 around the same time which was Counterpoint. At EDC Orlando
I got all my friends to throw down for a townhome, we booked a DJ to come spin and everyone was just super happy with what was going on. At Counterpoint I was just having the time of my life, and said to my friend “what is better than this” and she told me I needed to check out Electric Forest.
Once I got home I did my research on Electric Forest
and realized it was all the way in Michigan and I was like man how do I get there?! Do I drive my stuff there do I fly there and wing it? At the same time I was renting buses for clubs and I called them up and asked how much would it cost to go to Michigan and back. I got it down to where it was 150 bucks round trip extra from buying a ticket to the festival and the bus sold out in a week. I started putting together hotel+bus passes for festivals all under Music Festival Trips. Afterwards, between that experience and renting out the townhouse for EDC Orlando
I was like you know what would be sick, if we bought out this whole resort and did like a community based event at the resort for people specifically going to the music festival. So, then you are surrounded by a bunch of like-minded individuals throughout the weekend. The party never ends and you are stress and worry free because everything is taken care of for you.AMF: So, after booking out floors in hotels the idea came up to book he whole resort, is that how Homebass came about?Brain:
Yeah, so, I kind of stuck with EDC Orlando
, one because I’m a Florida boy and it’s in my home and two because it was where we were growing the most. The event was growing at a rapid pace, so that means our event was as well. We sold out at 150 the first year then 600, then finally capping at 1,400. At the point the sales director pulled me aside and was like, “listen Brian you are growing super-fast and successful, I think it’s time you look at a full resort buy out.” I wanted to throw in all the additional activities that later make up Homebass
so it makes sense if we just booked out the whole resort. So, I brought a team together and we were all discussing what we could name it and “Homebass”
landed on the table and it fit perfectly, and we just kind of went for it. I contacted a new resort and he was like so you think you could fill this place up, and I told him yes. He was doubtful. He asked me at least 5-6 times if I thought I could do it. He actually called me today and said, “Brian, you did it man, you sold 700 rooms you convinced me you can do it, man.” We are the first people to be able to buy out that resort and completely sell it out. We sold out a month in advance our first time around too.AMF: Well, it’s no doubt you will have a loyal following. The concept of putting everything under one roof to bring people together so they can have a stress free fun weekend is game changing. You guys built a community at a resort and then gave people amazing line ups to experience around the actual festival they came for.
Brian: It really is absolutely insane to see where we are now, the resort is fully behind our entire project. We are planning on doing three or four of these next year. I think since we’ve put the experience first and made the music a plus it’s all stayed together for us. You only have to experience one day at Homebass to know we are for the people.AMF: Did you ever imagine it becoming this big? Where you started a festival within a festival?Brain:
I didn’t know it would happen as fast as it did but I always based my life around wanting to move up and grow and move forward. Whether it took time or moved fast like it did, I was always focused on making sure I was going up. I just got blessed, I never imaged myself booking acts like Slushii
and being in constant contact with amazing labels like Dirtybird.AMF: Well your foundation and drive is truly an inspiration to a lot of younger people in the industry like myself trying to figure it all out. It’s been an honor just to be able to have this conversation with you.Brian:
Thank you, yeah we’re all a community, ya know, that’s my whole goal. It takes puzzle pieces like you to be able to make it all happen. You getting the word out and following your dreams by doing it is the kind of passion we need in this industry. It takes us all to make it happen, I love how Pasquale calls the attendees headliners, the people are the true headliners.AMF: That leads me to my last question. What should people expect going into Homebass this year? First timers and vets?Brain:
If it’s your first festival, I recommend being with a group of people. It’s super easy to get caught up in meeting new people and losing track of the important stuff like drinking water, eating a good meal, getting some sleep. It’s good to let your group explore what floats each other’s boat but always have a Homebass
of where to meet back up together. If you are returning attendee, STAY HYDRATED and be welcoming, help people out who aren’t as experienced as you and show them the community energy Homebass was started off of. Also, one thing I think people don’t take time out to do is the workshops and other events put on besides the music. Arrive early at least one day so you can explore, you never know what you’ll find or learn or who you could meet.
There is no doubt about it, the success Brian
has was accomplished by the hard work he has put into it all. Basing his whole entire dream around bringing a community together to express themselves through music and community is what will allow Homebass
to continue to being a beautiful festival within a festival. Homebass
will be held November 7-10th, 2019, at the Grand Orlando Resort. If you want to catch a Brian Thomas
Party, you can find tickets to any of their events on their website. There are also some rooms available so book before they sell out! See you there.