There follows an interview I’d forgotten I’d done (the perils of the emailer) that got posted rather a while ago over on This Is Fake DIY with the affable and ever-so humble Tom Williams (of The Boat fame). As a side note, I feel as though I said a few things that Tom fun fundementally disagreed with, or at least had no idea about. So, yeah, sorry about that, Tom. Need to sharpen up the ol’ interview filtering skills methinks.
Yours has been one of the most meteoric rises for a new band of the last year – how does it feel to be in the middle of all that?
It doesn’t really feel like that at all, has it really been? It’s very difficult when you’re in it, it still feels amazing but it’s not easy to get to grips with the complete trajectory or context of your achievements which is a shame, but I think pretty necessary.
What do you credit to your sudden success?
Haha, um… really not sure. We do sound a bit different to other stuff, I mean hearing ‘Get Older’ play listed on 6music and played from 7am to 7pm sounded amazingly weird, it’s a pretty abrasive record and stuck out a fair bit. What I find more interesting is the group of people that felt it was worth taking a punt on, I find that really amazing.
You’ve always had a DIY aesthetic, running your own label, releasing your own material, offering free downloads – do you feel your new-found fame will stop you from continuing that?
No I think that’s a really important part of it all and I think it helps people feel part of something that’s important. It’s about writing your own blogs, signing CDs and vinyl with stupid messages, replying individually to people on Twitter. Silly small incidental things which seem kind of natural for us, people appreciate that stuff too and it’s also nice to know the people that come to our gigs etc, it makes it all worth while.
You still often play shows in your hometown [Tunbridge Wells], did the music scene there inspire you onto what you’ve achieved so far, or is it just a desire to keep playing when you’re not touring?
Tunbridge Wells is a chance to play to friends and family and just try and relax a bit, although I always find those shows the most stressful! We’ve had so much of support and love from our local scene that it would seem treacherous to not play there as much as possible. All the guys that run The Forum, local label Unlabel (who help us release all our vinyl) and local studios etc. have all been a big part of our story so far and I hope they will be in the future too.
Your debut album, Too Slow, has a real emphasis on storytelling – do you write the music for the stories, or do they evolve independently?
I tend to write the lyrics first which might explain that, although there of course exceptions to that rule. It is quite hard, however, to write a song that doesn’t develop some kind of timeline through it’s 3-4 minutes, or maybe it’s just the song writing I’ve been brought up on. It’ll change in the future I’m sure, as my record collection evolves but stories is what I’m in love with at the moment!
There’s a definite sense of social consciousness that comes out throughout the album – how do you perceive Britain today?
I made quite a massive effort to not make any sweeping statement about the economical / political / social state of Britain, rather focusing on individual’s plights. I’d hope that any view on how Britiain or the UK functions or succeeds / fails is implicit in the well being of the individuals in the songs.
Do you feel there’s a lack of British artists truly commenting on the world around them at the current time?
I think it’ll come, out of great hardship comes great songs and everything’s feeling very 1970s at the moment.
You played five sets at Glastonbury last year – why so many? Any plans to beat that number this year?
Haha we’d love to, hoping to sort that kind of stuff out asap. I think if we play again this year we’ll just play one or two. It was so exhausting but so so much fun, playing everything from the Avalon Stage to tiny tents in the Green Fields with sound systems powered by bicycles, we went for the complete Glastonbury experience.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2011?
I’ve got a mountain of new songs the boat need to get their teeth into, we’re recording on the odd weekend in Boat HQ in the heart of Kent, in a massive open barn that’s also a working brewery so the recordings are sounding very different but fantastic. Lots of gigging, lots of festivals, lots of recording and lots of good times.
Tom Williams & The Boat – Denmark (YSI) Removed by request.