Jamie Lawson chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Ed Sheeran, his massive hit Wasn’t Expecting That, his musical inspirations and his forthcoming tour of the UK.

Jamie Lawson is a British singer-songwriter and musician. He was the first artist to be signed by Ed Sheeran’s new record label, Gingerbread Man Records. He is currently best known for his hit single Wasn’t Expecting That and his self-titled album which peaked at number one on the UK Albums Chart in 2015.

2015 has been a great year for him having supported Ed Sheeran on his X Tour in March and April, and also supporting One Direction on their 2015 On the Road Again Tour of the UK and Ireland.

Whilst preparing for his 2016 tour of the UK, Jamie Lawson took time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.

Hi Jamie how are you?

I’m alright thank you. How are you Kevin?

I’m good thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today?

No worries, it’s my pleasure.

And tell me, how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Pretty well thanks although I have to tell you that I am a little tired as I have just done a three week run of these weird Radio Jingle Bell Balls (laughter). I didn’t really know about these things but they do them all over the USA so that is what I have been doing for the past three weeks (laughter).

I understand that you got to play with some cool people whilst you were over there in America?

(Laughter) that’s right Kevin I did. I got to play shows with both Fall Out Boy and Great Big World so whilst it was hard work it was also great fun. It was very nice to be able to meet these people and also to play with them.

So whilst it’s been good fun I detect that you are glad to be back home?

That’s absolutely right Kevin (laughter). I have one more thing to do for Radio 2 then that is it until I start rehearsals for the tour, so it will be feet up for me (laughter).

Was it always going to be a career in music for you?

Yes I think so. I didn’t seem to be any good at anything else that’s for sure. I don’t know if I was good at this either but what I will say is that it was something that I really enjoyed. I think that I made the decision very early on that I would rather do something that I enjoyed rather than something that I wouldn’t enjoy but which would simply pay my way. So yes, I think that it was always going to be something music related.

Are you looking forward to getting back out on the road here in the UK?

Yes Kevin I really can’t wait. This will be my first tour of the UK with a full band. I must admit that I am getting really excited about the tour. I did a solo tour in November which was really good because people have now started to know the songs and they sing along. However that was just me and them so it was quite an intimate tour. Hopefully the next tour will manage to take that up a step and so I am really looking forward to it.

You are playing here in Nottingham at Rock City on January 18th. Are you looking forward to it?

I am Kevin, I am really excited about it, especially when you see who has played there before. Rock City is a venue that has a great reputation.

I have to say that I think that Wasn’t Expecting That is a beautiful piece of work.

Thank you Kevin that’s lovely of you to say.

I don’t know if you have heard this or not but certain quarters of the UK Music Media are already saying that Wasn’t Expecting That is going to be as anthemic as Lady In Red?

(Hysterical laughter) that’s brilliant. I love that Kevin. I haven’t read that but I wish that I had. I really don’t know what to say about that.

Well the song is already being played at weddings so you are already well on the way.

Yes that is very true. I get an awful lot of requests asking if I can change the last two lines of the song. I haven’t done that yet but I am now seriously considering it (laughter). Maybe I will at some point.

You first released the song back in 2011 did it frustrate you with how long it took to break here in the UK?

To be honest Kevin I thought that I had missed the chance. At the time when it broke over in Ireland I had big hopes of the song making it big in England, big in Europe and perhaps even hitting the USA. When it didn’t I was a little bit heartbroken I think. I thought that I had missed out on my one chance. So the fact that it has come around again because of Ed Sheeran and his involvement, it is just a massive surprise and a really welcome one at that. I am very grateful to Ed for giving me the chance to get the song out to the world. I always thought that it would connect as it did in Ireland which has now finally been proved.

So tell me, who or what was the inspiration behind the song?

It came out of a conversation that I was having with some friends when I was over in Ireland on tour. During the conversation someone just said I wasn’t expecting that and for whatever reason it just stuck. The following day I started writing the song and it was the second line which came first. It very quickly became a challenge for me to see if I could get a couples whole life into one song lasting three minutes. That was my challenge to myself. There are bits of me in it, there are bits of people who I know in it, and yes, it just worked.

You have mentioned Ed (Sheeran) who signed you to his Gingerbread Man Records. Did you know that he wanted you before you signed for him?

I guess that we had been talking about it for a little bit, so yes, I suppose I had an idea that he wanted me to sign to his label. I had opened for him at a secret show which I think was the moment that got Ed thinking about signing me. However it wasn’t until we did the UK Tour that we started talking about it seriously. But at that point the label wasn’t up and running; he got it up and running for me in a way. So it took a little while but here we are (laughter).

So just what is it like for you to be working with Ed?

Ed is great. It’s interesting that Ed has said a few times that the attraction of him working with me is that he knew that he wouldn’t have to work very hard. He knew that I would be able to go into the studio and make the record that I wanted to make and that would work. When Ed started talking about the label and I spoke to him about the record that I wanted to make, I found him to be on-board very early on. All that Ed had to do was to facilitate the right people to work with and then I simply went into the studio to make the record and I have to say that it has been absolutely great in that way Kevin. He is a very good boss (laughter).

I have seen Ed on YouTube this morning covering the song.

Yes I know, but he always gets the words wrong (laughter) but bless him for doing it.

Has he paid you any royalties for covering the song?

(Hysterical laughter) that’s a good point Kevin and to be honest, I don’t know. I will have to ask him (laughter). To be honest Ed has done more than enough for me so I would quite happily give him the song.

I recently caught you on TFI Friday and I have to ask you, just what was it like being in the studio with a certain Mr Ronnie Wood?

The whole experience was great Kevin. Bless Chris Evans because he has been very supportive of the song from early on. He seems to really like the song and what I do. It’s great to have that kind of support from people like that. That show is crazy and I have absolutely no idea how they pull it off (laughter). But it was really nice to be a part of it.

Are you currently writing for the second album?

Funny you should ask me that Kevin because I am actually starting to think about songs and starting to find the time to write whenever I can. It is actually much tougher than I thought it would be to be able to find the right head space. Especially when almost all of my down time is spent moving from one place to the next. That is quite hard and it is not really that creative. Having said that I am trying to get into the habit of it and I am finally settling into this lifestyle which is still quite new to me. So what I will say is that I am certainly thinking about it but I haven’t got very far yet.

How does it feel knowing that you have written and performed a song that literally stops people in their tracks whenever they hear it?

To be honest Kevin I had never thought about it like that. I get a lot of messages now from people who have been through similar circumstances or their parents have been through similar circumstances; telling me just how much the song helps them, moves them and brings back happy memories, which to me is the most important thing. I am really honoured that my song can do all of that for them; I think that it is incredible. Whenever I was in a certain mood I would always go to music; music was my fall-back if you like, so I am really chuffed that people are finding that sort of comfort in my songs. That means a lot to me.

Not wanting to put a downer on things but just how do you follow a record such as that?

Good point Kevin, who knows, maybe I don’t. I don’t know (laughter). I may not be able to, however if you listen to the rest of the album I think that it stands up. People go into the album with Wasn’t Expecting That as their favourite song, and then come out with something else. I personally think that the album is definitely strong enough but whether we get the chance to put those other songs out there and onto the radio is another matter entirely. But I will let it be what it is and I am really happy with how things have gone. The album went to number one and for me 2015 has been an incredible year so let’s just hope that the next song gets listened to too.

Who has inspired you musically along the way?

I am a big R.E.M. fan and I love Crowded House. Back in the day I was a massive Jackson 5 fan and I love people like Radiohead and Jeff Buckley. I think that Ron Sexsmith is a fantastic songwriter and I also like 10,000 Maniacs and American Music Club. There is a lot of different stuff but it is basically down to great lyric writing and beautiful melodies. No matter what form it comes in, if I can find a great song with a fantastic melody then I am a happy person.

What was the first record that you bought?

That was Michael Jackson’s Bad album which is still to this day a really great record actually, apart from the track Speed Demon which is terrible (laughter). But I won’t hold that against him (laughter).

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That was Don McLean and then my second gig was The Manic Street Preachers (laughter). So there you go Kevin, there is quite a leap between the two. We were very lucky in the fact that Don McLean came to Plymouth. I was then and still am now a huge Don McLean fan. I still listen to him whenever I can.

Let’s all be thankful for the invention of the cd as we can now hear American Pie in its entirety as it was written and performed. Back in the day I bought the 7” single and had to flip it over half way through the song.

(Laughter) of course yes, the record company split it into two halves.

On that note Jamie let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s been a pleasure Kevin, thank you. Please do come and say hello in Nottingham.