Tom Walker on finding success and the album that took him a lifetimeMarch 8, 2019
TOM WALKER is the big, bearded chap in a beanie hat with a big voice and a big career ahead of him.
He’s the latest troubadour to capture the hearts of the UK listening public, following in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and Rag’n’Bone Man.
Tom Walker recently released his debut album What A Time To Be Alive[/caption]
With a best breakthrough act Brit Award and a debut album heading for No1 in this week’s charts, Walker is hitting the ground running. The album, featuring the wildly popular anthem Leave A Light On, bears a title that sums up precisely how he feels right now – What A Time To Be Alive.
Here, exclusively for SFTW, he tells his story to SIMON COSYNS . . .
When did you first get into writing and performing music?
I’d been writing music since I was 12 and the first song I ever wrote was called 26 Days because a girl I was seeing at the time went on holiday for 26 days (original I know) and it was truly terrible when I think back to it. I later played guitar in a band called Plastic Highways. I had written a song that I sang and played on my own and after the gig people were like, “You’ve actually got quite a good voice.” That was a nice confidence boost to start singing the tunes I’d been writing. I wasn’t very good back then though…the voice came with time.
Tom Walker won Best Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards[/caption]
When did you start believing a career in music was for you?
When I signed my record deal. Before that point, it was always a bit of a dream but I was signed really early on because my label Relentless believed in me and my music and were willing to give me the time I needed to develop as an artist and a writer.
Then, I was being funded to do what I loved which I never thought possible as I’d always had normal (terrible) jobs.
Did your family encourage you?
Absolutely. My dad is a huge music and vinyl fan. He’s got this sick stereo in our lounge back home from which he’d always blast amazing music 24/7.
When I was a teenager, I’d get home late after a night out and he’d still be up listening to some crazy tunes like Deadmau5 or The Prodigy or Underworld, so I’ve always been in very good hands.
Tell us about your very supportive granny Sadie?
Ahhhh, she’s an absolute ledge. She’s had more press coverage than me this year… it’s crazy.
She’s getting recognised in the street in Glasgow and all sorts. She’s been so supportive and been to every gig we’ve ever done up in Glasgow including her first festival last summer, TRNSMT.
She really got behind me for the whole Brits campaign too so I owe her a lot.
Tom says he owes his granny a lot for all the support she has given him[/caption]
Though you moved to Cheshire at a young age, do you really see yourself as Scottish?
It changes, depending which city I’m in. I’ve got such close ties to both . . . Glasgow with all my family then Manchester with all my mates that I grew up with. So my heart is definitely in both.
You graduated in 2014 and then released Just You And I. Why did it take nearly another five years to release your debut album?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes need someone to tell me to stop. I’ve been writing this album my whole life so it was really hard to finally sign it off and say here it is.
What would you say was your big breakthrough moment?
Winning the Brit award. I really didn’t expect to win and I was just there for the party, but then I actually won it! I’ll never forget that moment and the weeks leading up to it. Me and my entire team worked day and night to win and it was all worth it in the end.
Tom’s popular anthem Leave a Light On has over 200 million listens on Spotify[/caption]
What did you learn from supporting George Ezra on tour?
I actually met George one New Year’s Eve a couple of years before I supported him. I had just got into the music industry and he gave me one piece of advice I’ll never forget . . . “It’s nice to be nice.”
Tell us the story behind Leave A Light On, inspired by a friend of yours?
It’s about a friend of mine who lost his way a little bit with addiction. He was going through a really dark time and I wrote the song to let him know that he’s not alone and that I was always there for him.
That song has had more than 200 million listens on Spotify, what’s the secret of its success?
I wrote that song about a situation so personal to me and the fact it’s connected with people worldwide is so touching. I get so many amazing messages from fans telling me how it’s got them through a really difficult time. That means so much to me.
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If your album is No1 today, how will you celebrate?
I will be going to my local and drinking a load of beers with my entire team, family and best friends.
What are your goals for your life in music?
Sell out the MEN Arena In Manchester, headline Glastonbury and own a car without wind-up windows.
- Review: Tom Walker – What A Time To Be Alive ★★★★☆
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