Tracey Thomas is a bit of a rarity in the music business. She recently celebrated 30 years of making music throughout Northeast Ohio and released two albums at the same time: “Queen of Nothing” and “Ghosts In The Woodwork: The Best of Tracey Thomas.” In the ’80s, as the lead singer of Unit 5, Thomas found herself in the heart of the Akron new wave and punk scenes. Today, she is a folk-pop singer/ songwriter with seven albums under her belt. Along the way she’s shared the stage with everyone from Judy Collins and Black Flag, to Melanie and The Black Keys. Buzzbin Magazine: In the early ’80s, you were an integral part of the “Akron Sound” with your band Unit 5, alongside bands like the Bizarros, Hammer Damage and Tin Huey. Take us back to what it was like for you. TT: We were all pretty young and loving the attention we were getting. We were working with some of the best bands around, and they took us under their wing. I failed to see the importance and the impact it would have on the rest of my career. I was making life-long friends and creating my story as a singer. I was living totally in the moment. We all knew it was the place to be at the time but we had no idea it would leave such a legacy. BB: You went solo with your “Standing Alone” release in 1994. What was it that pushed you to make that jump? TT: It was a very weird time for me. It was both exciting and dark. I was breaking up with the band I was working with, Persona 74. We had written some fantastic music, started recording our album and then it all fell apart — drugs, drinking and all the typical stuff. Our producers decided rather then shelve the tapes, that we should use them [for a] solo record. I saw the situation as an opportunity to get the music out, rather than leave it on the shelf at the studio, so I made changes, recorded the rest of it and put it out as “Standing Alone.” Of course, credit was given to the guys who worked on the record, but it caused a big fight that lasted years. I was the “Madonna” of the Akron scene for a while. My own best interest was my concern at the time and I’m sorry for it now. We have long since let that go and we speak without tension these days. BB: Over the years, you’ve moved in and out of the spotlight, releasing music on your own terms. What is it that motivated you to come back again for “Queen of Nothing?” TT: I had a lot of songs that were unfinished or uninspired, but I felt they could be something if I had a new take on them. One day I just pulled them all out and my producer Ryan Humbert and I pieced them together and shaped them and before I knew it we had something magical happening. We wrote seven of the songs in two days! It just seemed meant to be. I think this record shows growth, overcoming, accepting ones place in life, and in the end, a declaration of one’s independence. BB: Pick one song off your new album “Queen of Nothing” and tell us why it’s important to you. TT: In the past, I always worried that if I had a “voice” in my relationships that I would be swept under the rug. The song “Space Enough” shows that I am finally able to stand up for myself, be myself and still be respected after all those years of worrying. BB: Alongside “Queen of Nothing,” you’re also releasing “Ghosts in The Woodwork: The Best of Tracey Thomas.” How does it feel to have a “best of album” and to look back on the last 30 years? TT: It’s very humbling. I am hoping that hanging around long enough to have a “best of” spanning 30 years shows that I wasn’t the dumb blond, Debbie Harry clone I was mistaken for in Unit 5. I also hope it shows that I am not just a dark, brooding, middle- aged singer/songwriter either. BB: What have you learned from being a musician for 30+ years? Anything you’d still like to do? TT: Of course! I want to see a UFO. I want to live on a houseboat. I want to drink a $1,000 cabernet directly from the bottle. I would like to meet David Tenant and see if he smells nice in person. I’m sure he does. LOTS of things! Money and fame were never important, but I chose my passion and I did it the way I wanted to do it, in a way I could handle and still have my life to show for it. I turned down a lot to keep control and I’m not sorry for it at all. I have learned that money doesn’t pave the path to knowing and joy. Passion for the journey and learning to go with your inner voice paves a path worth following.