Tom Williams and The Boat

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There is some bloody good music on this week’s show. Some of it I’ve written about, some of it I most likely will, and some of it’s just nice to hear again. A PUZZLE: Listen to it all and find out what’s what.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This week’s show marked the 24th hour of The Folk Bloke. If I had been in any way prepared, I would have marked the situation with features, interviews, competitions and general reverie. As it was I just talked about how I had psychic powers and played some excellent music.

Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetry Sings

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m just going to leave these here. Do with them as you will.

Tenacious D – Double Team (YSI)

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.

So let’s begin where we left off shall we? I really can’t be arsed with a full day-by-day review of Glastonbury this year, sufficed to say it was brilliant, apart from the near intolerable heat. I made many a wise choice throughout for once, opting for The Flaming Lips over Gorillaz which turned out to be the best stage show I’ve ever seen (as anyone who’s seen them live will attest to) and risked huge disappointment by heading to The Park Stage whilst Mos Def was on because of an unsubstantiated rumour that Radiohead would be playing. Luckily, it soon became wonderfully substantiated (well, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood played anyway).

That weekend also acted as a watershed moment for me as it became the first time I’d ever felt like a proper journalistic ponce after I managed to “network” with both artists and other bloggers. First, I met Matthew from Song, By Toad at the Meursault performance, who I managed to babble incoherently to – I actually became starstruck by a blogger, which strikes me as a little pathetic, but will hopefully act as a compliment to him. The next day, I bumped into Tom Williams of him & the Boat fame. I’d watched them earlier at one of their seemingly endless string of performances and, after he realised I wasn’t a creepy stalker or drug-peddler, his eyes got a little less wide and he turned out to be as likeable a fellow as his emails have suggested to me. Finally, I made yet another correct decision in watching Grizzly Bear (victorious) over the England team (defeated), and ended up behind two of the girls from Mountain Man, who actually recognised me. Unfortunately, it became clear that this wasn’t because my fame had spread far farther than I had reckoned for, but because they’d seen me simultaneously singing and spilling chocolate ice cream onto my prized Johnny Flynn T-shirt in the front row of their performance earlier. Nevertheless, they were absolutely charming and provided added entertainment when one of them suddenly realised that their cousin was on stage. As a member of Grizzly Bear.

The moral of the story – talk to those in the business. They all seem very nice.

Meursault – Crank Resolutions (YSI)
Tom Williams & The Boat – Train Station Car Park (YSI)
Mountain Man – Buffalo (YSI)
Dartz! – Network! Network! Network! (YSI)

Tomorrow I’m starting a journey to Glastonbury. The day after Glastonbury I embark on a transatlantic tour the likes of which Kerouac could never have dreamed of (well, Las Vegas and Florida). As such, this blog may have to take a little downtime as I doubt I’ll have extended access to a computer for a little over a month. So I’m going to post tracks by lots of the artists I’m looking forward to seeing next weekend as a sort of temporary swansong(s). Until next we meet.

The xx – Fantasy (YSI)
Snoop Dogg – Drop It Like It’s Hot (YSI)
Mos Def – Auditorium feat. Slick Rick (YSI)
Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (YSI)
The National – Terrible Love (YSI)
Mountain Man – How’m I Doin’ (YSI)
Wild Beasts – The Devil’s Crayon (YSI)
Midlake – Roscoe (YSI)
Tom Williams & The Boat – Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet (YSI)
Meursault – One Day This’ll All Be Fields (YSI)

It’s nice to have a band to champion, and for me that band is Tom Williams & The Boat. It’s even nicer when said band really starts to do well for themselves, and this group have done just that. With more and more BBC radio appearences under their belt and support slots with Stornoway (who I think are a lesser band myself), the future looks pretty wonderful for the Kent six-piece and that’s only got better as they’ve now announced no less than four slots at this year’s Glastonbury, which apart from being utterly brilliant in and of itself also means I can definitely say I’m finally seeing the band live.

In support of this fantastic announcement, the band have made a video for, and are releasing their Springsteen-powered folk-pop gem ’90mph’ as a single on June 21st. It’ll be available for download on iTunes (along with last single, ‘Concentrate’) and can be pre-ordered from their spiffy new website right now. Check out the song and video below and, if you’re going to Glastonbury too, make a note of them, it’s going to be good.

Oh, and just because I’m thinking of Glastonbury, here’s a track from the man who made me smile the most in the most unexpected fashion from that weekend last year:

King Charles – Love Lust (YSI)

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