On Monday 13th February, we’ll be hosting a free show at the Old Blue Last with a headline set from the brilliant Tom Williams & The Boat, and most excellent support from My First Tooth, Screaming Maldini and Free Swim. In preparation, we tracked down Tom for a chat about his set, and his forthcoming new album ‘Teenage Blood’.
Hello Tom Williams & The Boat. How are you today, and what’ve you been up to?
Hello Hello. I’ve been forever finishing artwork for the new record, which is very exciting, but also emotionally draining. I bloody hate Photoshop and it’s been mucking me around. All done now I think… there’s the CD version, the 12’ version, and also a 7’ single coming out the week before the album. Phew.
So, you’re playing a show for us a little later this month - what can those attending expect from your set?
Oh, you know, the normal. Gloomy, apocalyptic doom folk, sugar sweet noisy guitar pop, and the odd rhyming couplet.
Will you be playing much from your forthcoming album?
Yes definitely! The set is mostly new stuff at the moment which feels so good. We play three or four from [previous album] ‘Too Slow’, but it’s great to have the luxury of being able to pick from a slightly larger pool of songs. Bring on album number three!
How have the new songs been translating live?
Yes very well I think. There are a couple that are more difficult, just because they’re lower vocally, but as long as we have a sympathetic sound engineer, that doesn’t disappear off for a smoke at the wrong moment, then we should be fine.
To what extent do you take your live performances into consideration when writing new material?
I certainly did at the end of writing the last record. Songs like Get Older and See My Evil were definitely written and designed to get people away from the bar, and pay attention. This album was written in a bit more of a vacuum, but we did try and change keys etc to make sure we could still belt them live. There’s more electric guitar too, on my part, so we’ve got a bit noisier as a result, which is always a bonus.
Is this record much of a departure from your debut?
Well it’s still me singing, and it’s still the same guys playing on it, but I think the influences have shifted slightly. Whereas the first album might have been influenced by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave and Tom Waits, the new album is a bit more The Band, Tom Petty, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, and ‘Loaded’ era Velvet Underground. They’re all still off the same shelf, in that they all have impeccable songwriters at their helm. If you haven’t got a decent song, then you don’t stand a chance.
The press release we’ve got here says it dwells on love lost. That doesn’t sound very cheery?
No a lot of the album isn’t, but that’s what you’ve come to expect from us anyway isn’t it?! There are, however, some really positive songs on the album. The record ends with a country lilt of a song called ‘Emily’ that’s about a boy being asked to dance, at the village fete, by the girl he swears he’s always loved. The song ends with about a minute and a half of the refrain ‘Oh Emily’ in sweet, cooing, backing vocals. Kind of like a rolling credits. I thought it was important to end a gloomy album, on a more positive note.
You’ve been funding the record via PledgeMusic, and one of the pledges is ‘One of Tom’s paintings.’ Are you a prolific artist?
Yes I am! I studied Fine Art and graduated last summer. The painting’s still for grabs by the way so better plug away eh?! They’re all big abstract colourful things. [via tomwilliamsart.co.uk]
How have you found the whole fundraising process? Is it something you’d do again?
It’s been amazing, the response has been great and it’s been a very heartening experience. Certainly something I’d try again.
Finally: you’re releasing ‘Teenage Blood’ quite soon after your debut. Is the aim to release a new album every year?
Haha I’m not sure. I’m always writing, so there are always a lot of songs around, but it’s finding the time to tour a record properly, rehearse new songs, and then record them. I wrote over 130 songs for this last album, and we recorded 23 to eventually make a 10 track album which was pretty exhausting. The Boat would probably kill me if we started that all again too soon. We need to play these songs a bit more first I think!
DIY Presents… Tom Williams & The Boat, My First Tooth & More will take place at the Old Blue Last on Monday 13th February. Find the listing on Facebook here.
The band’s new single ‘My Bones’ will be released on 27th February.