Tom Odell, singer songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about playing at Madison Square Gardens with Billy Joel, having lunch with Sir Elton John, the release of his second album and his forthcoming concert at Sherwood Pines Nottinghamshire.

Thomas Odell is an English singer songwriter. He released his debut extended play, Songs From Another Love in 2012 and won the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award in early 2013. His debut studio album, Long Way Down, was released on 24 June 2013.

Odell grew up listening to Sir Elton John. He also cites David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Arthur Russell, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Rodríguez and Bruce Springsteen as influences.

Whilst putting the finishing touches to his second album, he took time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Tom how are you?

I’m good thanks Kevin how are you?

I am very well thank you and thanks for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s my pleasure and I hope that you are having a nice Wednesday.

So how is life treating Tom Odell?

Its good Kevin, I’m well, in fact I’m very well. I am enjoying life and I am currently making loads of music. All is good at the moment and thank you for asking.

Later this month you are undertaking a tour of National Forests throughout England. Are you looking forward to that?

Yes Kevin, I am really excited about it and I am really looking forward to getting back out on the road as this will be our first tour since last year.

I am hoping to catch your show here in Nottingham at Sherwood Pines and I have to tell you that the setting is superb.

Yes Kevin I have heard that. When we first got in touch with the Forestry Commission and we started to come up with ideas, it soon became clear that they take quite a lot of care over the shows that they put on. I am really excited because it will be a totally different show from anything that we have done before.

And this will be an ideal opportunity for you to showcase some new songs off your forthcoming second album.

That’s right Kevin. Before we put out the second album I really wanted the chance to play the new songs live to everybody because with the first album I didn’t get the chance to do that. It was a case of recording the songs and then immediately touring with them. Whereas this time I thought that if we did this tour of the forests it would provide us with the ideal opportunity to play the new songs live.

You will be following in the footsteps of some big artists who have played there, Jessie J and Paul Weller for example.

That is great Kevin, I love Paul Weller. I was lucky enough to play a show with him last year, he’s a good bloke is Paul Weller.

So just how close are we to the release of your second album?

We are still in the final stretches but it is nice that we are sticking to the plan. I really wanted to do a tour before we put the second album out. I wanted to be able to gauge just how the new songs feel in a live setting because since we toured the first album the live show has become much more important to us. I wanted that to influence the second album and it is already Kevin.

Can I put you on the spot and ask if you have a title for the album as yet?

I couldn’t possibly tell you stuff like that Kevin (laughter).

You can’t blame me for asking can you (laughter).

(Laughter) not at all, that’s nice. I am pleased that you are interested.

Were you pleased with how well your first album, Long Way Down was received?

Yes definitely Kevin. The truth is that I had no expectations for the first album whatsoever. I just made it and like everyone else in that situation I had great big dreams and you just get it out there and wait to see what happens. It has been amazing to be able to tour it. As a songwriter it is always a good feeling when the audience know the songs. I have been writing and playing the piano for years now and the reaction towards the first album has given me a lot of confidence.

Is there any wiggle room with the new album, for example if one of the new songs doesn’t go down too well with your fans, do you have the opportunity to take that off the album and replace it with something else?

I have to say Kevin that I am very proud of all of the songs on the second album; I am very sure of them. It is funny in that you can play new songs live and you can get a terrible reaction to them the first time that you play them, but then after a while they can become the most popular songs on the album. I can remember the very first time that I played Another Love and it got totally ignored so it is funny how some songs gain a sense of importance over a period of time. I won’t treat the tour as some kind of judging panel, it’s not like that. It is more for my benefit and for the benefit of a few loyal fans. I wanted them to be a part of it first as well as I didn’t want to suddenly say here is the album.

I wanted it to be like it was back in the 60’s and 70’s when artists would do that and get their fans involved. They would never hide a new album away and then suddenly release it. It would be an ever evolving process. Over the past two years of touring the first album I would always be writing and I would always play the new songs that I had written that week. Now that the second album is entering the finishing process it is nice to be able to play the new songs live to an audience and get a sense of where they are at.

On the subject of song-writing, last year you won the Songwriter of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards ceremony. How did that feel?

That was great Kevin. I really do feel very proud of that award. I think that it came at the right moment because I had just started writing the second album. As a writer it filled me with a lot of confidence. From that moment I felt surer of myself and as you will know, song-writing is all about confidence Kevin. It came at the right moment and I was totally overjoyed to receive it. That award is a little more special because it is put together by other writers; people who I have a lot of respect for, as artists and writers.

When you are asked the question you always say that Sir Elton John has been your biggest musical inspiration. Have you met Sir Elton yet?

Yes I have Kevin, I have been very fortunate to get to know him actually. I have been up to his house and had lunch with him. For me it is crazy, it is all very surreal to me (laughter). He still has the energy of a 21 year old artist. He is still so inspired.

Does he like your music and what you are doing?

Yes he does and he has been so very supportive. I am fortunate in the fact that I can talk to him and ask him how he got to this point in his career. Sir Elton is one of the most wonderful people that I have ever met. Whenever I see him I feel so inspired because he is such a fantastic song-writer and I just hope that I can be a fraction as successful as he has been.

Talking of all things surreal, haven’t you just played at Madison Square Gardens in New York with a certain Mr Billy Joel?

(Laughter) that’s right Kevin. Billy Joel is another of my heroes together with Sir Elton, and out of the blue he invited me over to New York to play one of his shows with him and it just so happened that it was at Madison Square Gardens. It was amazing because I got to hang out with him. To be in a position where I was able to sit with him and also take some advice from him was truly amazing.

You have played the Dot To Dot Festival, The Rescue Rooms, Rock City and last year the Splendour Festival here in Nottingham. How do you find the audiences here in Nottingham?

I have to say Kevin that the Nottingham audiences have always been very supportive of our work. We have some friends up there in Nottingham and we all think that it is a wonderful city.

In a few words how would you describe your music?

I don’t know Kevin, I don’t know, I think that it is all about the songs. If anyone is still listening to my music in twenty years then that is my kind of dream you know. I have to say that we are really looking forward to this forest tour; I feel that we have really grown so much as a band and it is going to be great to be playing some of the old songs. Andy Burrows is playing in the band now and he is the most wonderful musician and one of my greatest friends. The band has grown such a lot and I can’t wait to see it playing on the tour.

On that note Tom I will thank you for taking the time to speak to me and wish you all the very best for the tour.

Thank you very much Kevin, that’s very kind of you. Bye.