Tom Walker, English singer songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about his forthcoming promotional tour of America, performing on the Today show, his debut EP Blessings and his current tour of the UK.

Tom Walker is an English singer songwriter who has spent the last few years honing his sound, which was in part influenced by sharing a house with twelve other musicians, who all jammed together in their home-built, soundproofed studio.

He has a distinctive, engaging sound that immediately conjures up comparisons with some of the seminal and brightest crossover singer songwriters to come out of the British Isles, such as Hozier and Paulo Nutini.

Earning his stripes playing gigs across the UK, including a current sold out headline tour, Tom has also supported Jake Bugg, Maverick Sabre, and Gallant, which bolstered a number of festivals in the summer of 2016 including The Great Escape, Live At Leeds, British Summer Time In Hyde Park and Secret Garden Party. Tom continues a strong start to 2017 with his first European Tour in February and March, two BBC Introducing shows in London and Manchester, a return to Live At Leeds, some May UK dates, first American live dates and both UK and EU festivals. Toms debut EP, released in Spring, was produced by Jim Abbiss.

Currently on tour in the UK, he took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Tom how are you?

Hi Kevin I’m very well thanks, not too bad, how are you?

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

You are very welcome; I have no worries at all.

And just how is life treating you at this moment it time?

Life at the moment is pretty good. We have just returned from playing four dates over in the Netherlands and to be honest with you we were a lot busier than we expected (laughter). It’s been great as the fans over there are really into what we are trying to do, so it’s been good. We are all just a little shell shocked as it was four dates on the trot together with some driving in-between. Plus, I think that we may have got a little excited with the beers on the last night (laughter).

Now on the subject of beer you will be playing The Bodega here in Nottingham on 17th May won’t you?

I will indeed.

Well they brew their own Pilsner lager and let me tell you it is very nice (laughter). And all that it costs is a massive £2 per pint.

Oh man that is just what we are talking about (laughter). That is most definitely better than paying £5 a pint in London. We will most definitely be having some fun with that (laughter). I love a nice Pilsner. We have spent quite a bit of time over in Germany recently and we specified Pilsner on the hospitality rider which was great so I will have to give it a go when we get to Nottingham (laughter). Thanks for the heads up.

I have to say that I have been playing Blessings for a few days now and I think that it’s great.

That’s wicked mate, thanks for that it’s really good to hear.

And just what is the backstory to the single?

Well, when I wrote that song I was living with a few of my mates in London and everyone was really poor because as you know, living in London is very expensive. Anyway we all went out and had a very heavy night on the Pilsner (laughter). I woke up the following day and didn’t have any money to get me to the studio session and everything was looking like it was about to go pear shaped. So I took myself into a corner and started having a word with myself along the lines of ’you know what, I don’t really have much money but we don’t even have to leave the house in order to have a great time’. And it was that train of thought that became the thinking behind Blessings.

The EP was recently released. Are you happy with how well it has been received?

Yes I am, I really am. The release date was put back by a couple of weeks allowing us to do a few things over in the USA so I am really excited that it is finally out there now and the reaction to the tunes so far has been amazing. People have been asking me for new music for a while so I am excited now and just waiting to see how everyone reacts to the EP.

Will you be releasing the EP on vinyl at any time?

Yes we will be but not at this moment. However, we will be pressing a version on vinyl at some time in the future for sure. My uncle is a massive fan of vinyl so even if I just press ten copies he will be happy (laughter).

And will your work ever find itself being released on cassette?

(Laughter) I’ve heard about this cassette craze. I have to admit that when I was younger I was never really into cassettes. I don’t really understand why they are making a comeback. I thought that the Walkman was pretty sic but having to keep winding the tape back, after a while they just sounded crap didn’t they (laughter). At least you can appreciate a vinyl record when you put it on.

Does each cassette come with its own free pencil?

(Laughter) that’s right although I used an old biro to wind my tapes back (laughter). Cassette tapes were the same as VHS tapes for the video recorder. I remember that I had all the Star Wars films on VHS and after twenty watches they were totally unwatchable (laughter). It was grainy and all of the sound had gone. So as far as I am concerned cassette tapes are an obsolete format I’m afraid (laughter). Having said that I will probably be selling them one day.

On the subject of the EP what was it like working with producer Jim (Abbiss)?

It was absolutely amazing, the guy is a bit of a genius to be fair. He has worked with the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and Adele. So as you can imagine he likes to do things properly. We went into his recording studio and recorded the guitars, drums, and bass together with a brass section. It was a totally different experience for me because up to that point I was recording everything on a lap top at home. So for me it was really nice to be able to spend a bit longer on the songs and the result is now much better. Jim really did manage to make a sound for us as well. We already had a sound but he really did find a way for us to record the EP and we needed someone like that.

I think that it sounds unique and working with him was an absolutely pleasure for us. His studio out in Essex really is sublime. There are five separate rooms so that you can separate all of the amps, a drum room, a live room, a massive set of monitors which is great (laughter). The whole experience was really awesome.

Just You And I has now had over 1 million streams so people must be picking up on what you are trying to do. That must make you feel good?

Yes it does, it’s great, it really is nice. At one of the recent gigs in The Netherlands everyone was singing along to it and I have to say that it really did catch me off guard. I just wasn’t expecting it. I really wasn’t expecting the reaction that song got online which is fantastic. So it was a surprise, but a good surprise none the less (laughter).

You have mentioned that you have recently been doing a few things over in the USA. How are things working out for you over there?

I have to say that things are going really well over there. We are represented by Epic over there which really is amazing. When I was over there I got to meet L.A. Reid and actually played for him in his office at Epic Records which was absolutely crazy. Los Angeles is a very surreal, movie star, everything is happening type of place. I’m just a lad from up north so it was all a bit of shock basically (laughter). It was a really cool experience and I love the place. The weather is fantastic, far better than back at home in the UK (laughter).

Do the American fans appreciate what it is that you are doing?

Yes they do. While we were there we played a couple of gigs and the reception was really good. We are hoping to go back over to the USA in order to do a radio and promotional tour and hopefully we will be driving across America. That will be wicked (laughter). To be able to drive across America in order to do a radio promotional tour is an artist’s dream.

Whilst you were over there you performed on the Today show. How was that, did you enjoy it?

(Laughter) I was so nervous, it was totally nerve wracking. I had never done any TV stuff before. I was totally fine right up to the moment that they started counting down from ten (laughter). There were about forty people in the room all with cameras and all sorts of other stuff. But I got through it; it went really well and I did enjoy it. It actually got us some brownie points over there. Everyone was so nice to us so it will be nice to be able to do it again sometime soon over there.

History has shown that the American market is extremely difficult for UK artists and bands to crack.

Yes it has, and I have to say that it is a difficult task. I have been really surprised with the reaction to the tunes out there. So we really must be connecting with people and yes, it really is quite a shock but a nice shock (laughter).

Are you enjoying being out on the road here in the UK?

Yes I am, I love it. It doesn’t matter where we are, I just love being out on the road, playing every night, it feels really good. I feel that I am now becoming more tour hardened if that makes sense.

What can we expect here in Nottingham when you get to The Bodega on 17th May?

The main thing that you can expect is loads of new songs that people haven’t heard, which is really cool (laughter). The tour has basically been me and Ally who is my drummer, and if I am honest with you I don’t know as yet if we will have a bass player with us when we play in Nottingham. We have got ourselves a whole new lighting rig which we are lugging around with us which is absolutely amazing. I think that it makes it a proper show and not just a gig. For me it is a real step up from the last tour; it’s a touch more professional one might say (laughter).

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

Yes it was, I’m not very good at anything else. It was this or most probably a chef but I really did always want to be involved in the music business in some way, I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. Then one day it all fell together nicely. I obviously worked hard, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t do anything, but yes, just as I was about to give up it came to my doorstep which was nice.

Who would you say has musically inspired you?

Oh god there is a lot of people. I really do like Paolo Nutini because everything that he does is just awesome. He might take four years to release an album but when he finally releases something it is pure quality and he creates a different sound for each album. I love the sound of his voice. With each album you feel as though you are getting to know him more as an artist. So I would have to say that he has inspired me.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?

Headlining Glastonbury on the main stage that really would be sic (laughter). I saw Adele perform there and it was just absolutely unbelievable. I’m not even a massive Adele fan, it was just surreal. The energy on that stage was just at another level. It was the best concert that I have ever been to in my life. Glastonbury is brilliant, what more can you say (laughter).

What was the first record that you bought?

(Laughter) oh god, no please don’t do this to me. I am ashamed to say that the first record that I ever bought was the Bob The Builder CD with the Bob The Builder soundtrack on it. I think I was about nine years old at the time (laughter).

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

Now this will make up for the previous answer. I saw AC/DC live in Paris. My dad took me and it was at that moment that I realised that I wanted to play the guitar. Once I had seen Angus Young darting around the stage like a headless chicken, I knew that was what I wanted to do. The whole day was an unbelievable experience.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That was One Day Like This by Elbow.

On that note Tom let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been great. Good luck with the rest of the tour and I hope to see you at The Bodega.

You are more than welcome, no worries Kevin. I will see you at The Bodega for a nice Pilsner. Cheers for now and I will catch you later.