After Welsh singer-songwriter Rod Thomas, who goes by the moniker Bright Light Bright Light, burst onto the U.K. music scene in 2012 with his debut solo album, he signed with Rocket Music Management, a company co-founded by one of his heroes, Elton John. The arrangement ultimately didn't work out and the two parted ways professionally, but they remained friends. So for Bright Light Bright Light's new solo album, Choreography – out July 15th – Thomas asked John if he'd like to sing on the track"All in the Name."
"Playing a song that I’d written with my hero is mind-blowing,"Thomas explains to Rolling Stone. "He sang on my record and then took me on tour. Originally it was seven dates, and it went really well, so he extended it and it ended up being 55."
Choreography, Bright Light Bright Light's third album, draws inspiration from Eighties and Nineties movies (in fact, the project's name refers to a line from Gremlins) and features a throwback electropop style that will feel immediately familiar to fans of Wham! or Pet Shop Boys. When Thomas got the opportunity to promote Choreography by performing live on U.K's super-popular Graham Norton Show, he asked John if he'd be interested in joining him. "He said yes, and we got to go on the show together," Thomas says. "It was an insanely A-list cast of Jodi Foster, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and there's, like, me!"
The pair's friendship continues, and Thomas says he made two mixtapes for Elton John's recent birthday: one labeled "greatest hits," the other "greatest shits," which included "really, really awful bargain-bin artists ... with reggae ballads, B sides and terrible remixes.
"[Elton] rang me: 'Oh, my God, it's amazing,'" Thomas says. "It was a lot of fun to put together and it’s insane to think that Elton has heard them. ... He's the biggest music fan in the world."