It was three years ago that I moved into a house in south Austin with two inviting and eccentric musicians. The garage was made into a recording studio, the living room was bare – which made room for video shoots or other projects – and the overall feel of the house was “ground zero.” This was a place for creativity and activity. Yet, some things seemed to hold back the owner and singer-songwriter, Thawind Mills. We simply called him “Mills.” He would write a few songs, then he would go back to the grind of laborious jobs. That all came to a tipping point when he decided to sell the house in the summer of 2014, to take his music on the road, and to never look back.
My being a flute player in the house was enough for Thawind Mills to ask me to sit in for a rehearsal or two. I obliged, and soon after he sold the house, I was playing flute on his next album, Halo or Horns (2014). Thawind Mills is a different songwriter, in that he doesn’t really like to name-drop famous artists, and his style is very much eclectic. He does his own thing. While he has released seven studio albums thus far, he has written hundreds of songs over the years.
If you check out his Instagram, you will see the many adventures he’s had since parting ways with the 9-5 world. As he last told me, it’s not always easy or fun as it looks. With some hardship, comes adaptation. Along the way, he began to find alternatives to generate revenue aside from music and T-shirts – his own bracelet designs.
While on the road, Thawind Mills began to put his latest album together, Delirious Love Symphony (2016). This work combines charm, frustration, and wit in the telling of love’s trials and challenges. Songs like harmonica-infused “Amazing” and “Still In Love With You” reflect that charm while “Could You Keep It Down” (Catherine Grimes on back-up vocals) and “Jalapeno Rose” show frustration and fascination with the lover’s quirks.
One of the best qualities about Thawind Mills' music – aside from his strong and versatile voice- is his exceptional guitar playing. He often likes to loop his guitar melodies at shows, and it’s really nice to hear the ideas develop. On the album, this is best heard on “Subterfuge.”
While I did not learn a lot about Thawind Mills' life during that short time at the house in south Austin, he brushed the topics of religion and his upbringing. These stories are told in “Pray” and “Daddy.” I think the lyric – “I pray that people with power gain more common sense, I pray that people with common sense gain more power” – embodies the ideology of Thawind Mills. While he was my landlord, he had such a free spirit to share. He is not bound to the saturation of Austin nor to any one town in which he tours. Since his journey began, I’ve noticed he’s met so many people, and it really is wonderful to see someone break free from this conventional world.
If you’re looking for an album with a nomadic feel and the sounds of a working musician, have a listen to Delirious Love Symphony.