Ladies and Gentlemen, this next artist we're going to introduce to you was one of the first pop artists we truly fell in love with. Back in 2012, we saw Tom play a gig in Nottingham and were blown away by his incredibly catchy melodies, stellar songwriting, and popstar aesthetic.
Hearing Tom's music was one of the reasons Popshade started. He was one of our first interviews, but it never went live. During that interview, we spoke about a few songs, that are only just seeing the light of day now. And believe me, they've been more than worth the wait...
Hey Tom, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Popshade, why dont you start by telling us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I’m a singer songwriter originally from Nottingham and now based in sunny Battersea, London. I’ve been making a living playing live for 9 years now and have played well over 1000 gigs in that time, everywhere from a kitchen in Nottingham to a private island in the Caribbean. Since moving to London at the start of the year I’ve secured weekly residences at two fantastic venues - Bunga Bunga and Barts, and have been building my fan base down here. Definitely a good move for me.
I love upbeat pop music and have beens striving since day one to make songs that give people a good feeling. Some say it’s romantic pop, which I’d happily go with. There’s a lot of longing in the songs but also a lot of hope.
You’ve just released your She Kissed Me EP, which is full of brilliant summery pop tunes. How long have you been working on that?
I’m pleased you like it. Well, the songs on there have been around in one form or another for the past five years.
Welcome To The Family was written last year, and came really quickly, and I don’t think I’ve altered it since I wrote it initially and demoed it into my iPhone.
She Kissed Me is a song that’s been around for about five years now as a demo. When I was sending songs back and forth to my producer Neil, I sent him this one as an afterthought, and he came back to me immediately saying “That’s the one! We’ve got to record it.”
A Singing Bird Will Come was a tricky one for me. I’ve had the music and melody for a good few years and could never decide what to write it about. I knew it was a good one and needed a great hook. Then one day on Twitter an account I follow, which was something like Old Proverbs, posted “Keep a green tree in your heart, and maybe a singing bird will come”. I really liked the message, and knew then that I had to write a little philosophical song. It gets compared to Jack Johnson, but I’ve always seen it as a Paul McCartney type of song - nice and wistful and cheery.
Summer In Bloom was written on piano two years ago and my friend Scott McPherson over in Seattle helped me out with the lyrics. I had the chorus but needed some verses. I sent him my backing track with chorus and he sent me it back with some great verses sung over it! Online collaboration - welcome to the future!
We hear you’ve worked with some rather brilliant musicians/producers on the record, can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes, it all happened by good fortune and chance. One of my favourite bands is eighties heartbreak-pop heroes Prefab Sprout (so much more than just Hot Dog, Jumping Frog). I looked them up to see what they’re doing now and it turned out that Neil Conti, the drummer, was living in Montpellier, France, which is near where my sister lives, and producing great stuff from his MiniMoon Studio. I arranged to meet Neil and his engineer Jeff and was really impressed by their approach to recording, so we agreed to do the EP together.
Neil knows some fantastic musicians, so he got his friend Dick Farrelly in on guitar, who has played for the likes of Van Morrison and Sinead O Connor in the past. He was a fantastic and vital addition to the sound of the record and I can’t wait to get him playing on my new stuff. Neil also got together two musicians nearby in France, Mike Lattrell on Keys and Fred Lerussi on Bass, they made a formidable backing band. Neil’s drumming credentials are top notch - he played on all my favourite Prefab songs, as well as playing Live Aid with David Bowie amongst other stuff.
Getting in the room and playing my songs with a band live together for the first time was a real treat. They just came alive and sounded better than I ever could have imagined. Working with world class players made me up my game too. We played live to no click and the songs move about and come to life. I can’t wait to record like that again.
What’s your favourite track off the EP?
It varies. All tracks are different in feel and each have their own credits. Overall, I think She Kissed Me is the one I’m most proud of, because the string section we got in did a brilliant job, and made it sound like a classic. It doesn’t sound like any other song I know. I remember the first time it got played on the radio, I was listening in in my car, and it sounded like it came from another world. I was well chuffed!
How’s that debut album coming on?
Writing is well underway. I’ve been tying up loose ends of songs that I’ve had lying around for the past few years. Over 180 demos on my iPhone that I’ve been sorting through and choosing which ones to work on. I’ve been getting some songwriting advice from lyric writing legend Van Dyke Parks, who wrote the SMiLE album with Brian Wilson for the Beach Boys. He’s given me some lyrics for a song called Not In Nottingham, which has turned out really well. Hoping that come the end of the year we can write more together. There’s a long way to go but I’m hoping that by the end of the year the album will have been written and ready to record come early 2016.
What can peeps expect from a Tom Wardle live show?
Lots of high energy pop songs, a big voice, some funny remarks and never a moment to go to the bar.
Who would you say are your biggest musical inspirations?
This summer I’ve been listening to the Beach Boys none stop. All that California sunshine imagery and romance has sucked me right in. I need to move there soon and write about cars, girls and the beach!
I’m always trying to be a more interesting lyricist, and I look up to Morrissey, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Van Dyke Parkes and Tony Asher (Beach Boys) as lyricists I aspire to be like.
And what is one pop song you’re absolutely loving right now?
I’ve been listening to Father John Misty’s album loads this summer, especially the songs I Love You Honeybear and Bored in The USA. He’s like a male Lana Del Rey. Not the stuff I’d usually go for but his lyrics are hilarious and he sings them so deadpan. I also like that Jason Derulo song, Want To Want Me. I was dead jealous when I heard that chorus. I thought “I wish I’d have written that melody!”.
You recently moved to London - how’re you finding it musically? Are you enjoying the scene over there?
I really enjoy living in London. It’s definitely been a great move for me in terms of meeting the right people and getting a bigger audience. I did a gig back in February and had Margot Robbie stood in front of me watching me all night. What a joy!!
Musically, I don’t really know much about the scene, I’m too busy playing my own gigs to get chance to go and see any one else’s! But I know that my gigs are being really well received down here and that pleases me. I’ve met some great people that are steering me in the right direction, so watch this space!
Finally, where can peeps find more of you?
I’m launching my brand new EP, She Kissed Me, with a headline show at the Bedford in Balham, London on Tuesday 8th September. I’ll be onstage from 9.30pm and it is free entry. I’ve got a fantastic band playing with me and can’t wait to bring my songs to life live.
We'd like to thank Tom for taking the time to answer these questions!
Well, there you go. As you can tell from Tom's answers, he's very passionate about what he does, and he puts the bloody work in. In the years that we've known his music, we've played it hundreds of times and never got bored of it - that to us is the sign of a true songsmith.
Support Tom, make sure you grab the EP from one of those links above, and we'll see you down the front at the Bedford. Apologies for the dance moves you may see.