Thom Sonny Green might be best known for manning the drums for Alt-J, but under wraps he’s been producing everything from Miley Cyrus, to sparse, Boards of Canada-nodding electronica. After reserving his own music as a tour bus hobby for years, the sticksman is finally lifting the lid on a solo project that couldn’t be further removed from his day job.
“The first tour of America [Alt-J] did was in a splitter [van], and I can’t remember how long it was, but it felt like around a month,” Thom says, taking a quick sofa break between rehearsals for his debut live show. “I was in there for six or seven hours a day, and I just put all my effort into this. I find touring pretty difficult, so you’ve got to put your mind somewhere, otherwise you lose it,” he reasons. “It really helped me with anxiety and stress. It meant I had control over something.”
Aptly titled ‘High Anxiety,’ Thom sees the entire record as a positive outlet. “I’m prone to being anxious,” he explains. “It comes on randomly, and on tour I can be a lot more sensitive. The actual sounds themselves make me feel really comfortable more than anything. I don’t like flying, as well. I hate flying, and we’ve had a couple of really bad experiences on tour with the band; it really fucks you up when you’re stressed at the time. I do this while I’m flying as well,” he adds, “and it’s a comfort blanket, I guess.”
“You've got to put your mind somewhere, otherwise you lose it.”
— Thom Sonny Green
Well used to headlining major festivals with gigantic production budgets, he’s looking forward to getting back to basics. “I do miss those small shows,” he agrees. “There's something nice about them. It's a lot more nerve-wracking, because you can see everyone, but it's a lot more intimate. You can't really hide behind anything. Especially when it's just you. But it's a challenge,” he shrugs, “which is good.”
And as for Alt-J, the band are in the middle of a well-earned break. As well as allowing Thom to focus on 'High Anxiety', it's also given bandmate Gus Unger-Hamilton ample time to open up a lovely restaurant just around the corner from DIY HQ. Frontman Joe Newman, meanwhile, is on his holidays in sunny Australia. “It's really important that we've taken this time off,” Thom says. “We might be coming here to write, actually,” he adds, indicating around the East London studio he's rehearsing in alone today.
“We're thinking about it [the next Alt-J album],” he adds, though is careful to emphasise that there's no pressure forcing them to crack on with things before they're properly ready. “We really want to do it, and it's quite daunting,” he says, “but as soon as we start, it'll be fine. All we ever want to do is write interesting things, so we might write an entire album with an acoustic guitar and a tambourine,” he jokes, cracking a smile. “We'll see.”
Thom Sonny Green’s debut album ‘High Anxiety’ is out 19th August via Sudden/Infectious.
Photo: Mike Massaro
Taken from DIY’s August 2016 issue, out now. Subscribe below.