King Tuff: A small-town guy gets on national television
John, Kyle, Judith, and Luke Thomas party like rock stars at the Los Angeles store of designer Yves St. Laurent.

King Tuff: A small-town guy gets on national television

BRATTLEBORO — Judith and John Thomas of Brattleboro plan to stay up long past their usual bedtime on Wednesday, Dec. 17. Their youngest son, Kyle Thomas, and his band, King Tuff, will appear on “Conan,” airing at 11 p.m. on TBS.

Although King Tuff's recent album, “Black Moon Spell,” achieved near-instant renown upon its Sept. 24 release - it was CMJ's “most added” album on college radio the week of Sept. 23; it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Heatseeker's “Hot Shot Debut” chart the week of Oct. 11; and it took the No. 1 spot on CMJ's College Radioplay chart for the week of Oct. 14 - John says he is not entirely surprised about his son's upcoming television gig.

“I knew if Kyle ended up on TV it would be on 'Conan.' He [Conan O'Brien] tends to have edgier bands on his show,” said John.

John recalled an early indication of his son's talent and potential.

“I saw an early version of King Tuff at the Weathervane [a former Brattleboro bar and music venue]. I was watching them play, and there were these drunks” nearby, making noise, he said. “I said out loud, These guys should shut up, because this band is great. They're gonna be on the cover of Rolling Stone some day!”

“I always believed Kyle would go somewhere with his music,” Judith said, then added, “It's great to see other people recognize what you've seen in your kid all along."

John chimed in: “Kyle busted his ass to get there."

“We found out in early October,” Judith said, during King Tuff's recent U.S. tour, which brought Kyle and his band, currently based in Los Angeles, to Easthampton, Mass., allowing the close-knit family to spend time together.

“We knew then,” she said, but only announced it on social media in the last week, because “we were sworn to secrecy."

Asked their first response on hearing the news, John and Judith said as one, “Holy shit!"

John reported feeling “complete joy,” and Judith elaborated with, “I thought, That's awesome! I was really excited for him because he had always hoped to be on 'Conan.' Of course he didn't tell me that specifically, but I have my sources."

“You need sources when you have kids. They don't tell you anything,” John added.

John and Judith noted that both of their sons - Kyle and his older brother, Luke, who designs logos and art for his sibling's albums, and produces art and illustrations for a variety of venues, including Pitchfork magazine, the Burger record label, and couture fashion house Yves Saint-Laurent - have a lot of pride about being from Brattleboro.

“They're really happy they grew up here,” Judith said. John added, “They always said Brattleboro was an incubator for their artistic exploits."

As young teenagers, Kyle and Luke, along with their friends Nathanael and Caleb Matthiesen, produced a few different weekly programs offering music, commentary, and phone-in guests on radio free brattleboro, the now-defunct community radio station.

As young adults they joined the Tinder Box art and music collective, formerly located on Elliot Street where Head Room Stages now sits.

During an interview with the brothers for the 2010 Winter Dew Tour (which was supposed to have happened at Mount Snow), Kyle said of Brattleboro: “There's a freak magnet here that attracts weird people and nobody's ever really been able to explain it.”

Judith, reflecting on her son's upcoming appearance on “Conan,” said, “I think it's cool that some kid from a little town in Vermont is going to be on national TV.”

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