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Hi Tom! Thanks so much for talking to me today! You have a new single on the way - ‘Something in the Whiskey’. Can you tell us a little about writing this song?
Yeah sure, I’m super excited about this release - it's probably the most excited I've ever been for a release! It almost seems part and parcel to have a song written about whiskey when you are country singer. But I’ve actually always loved whiskey, single malts and speciality whiskeys from different places around the world, so it was a natural thing really to write a song about it. Being from Cornwall, way down south of the UK, we have a lot of beach barbecues and campfires and the essence of this song comes from falling in love, and if you’ve ever fallen in love with someone intensely, you know you can sometimes feel like you’re drunk or tipsy. Hence where the ‘drunk on your love’ saying comes from and where the idea for this song came from.
The song is very positive and upbeat - do you find that writing and performing songs like this has an effect on you as well as the listener?
100%, absolutely. When I sing it, I feel like it gives me an instant energy, it lifts really well in the chorus and I love giving it absolute BEANS when I get to this part in the song! I almost always go back to how I felt when I originally write a song. If I was in a bad place in my life when writing a certain song, then every time I play it, I feel that emotion all over again. There’s a song that I perform from my past ‘Smile” album called ‘Heavy Heart’, I wrote and recorded it when my Mum passed away and I can’t help but get a tear in my eye every single time I perform it, or even play it to myself.
So often we hear songs about failed romance, heartbreak and pain. How important do you think it is that we have songs like ‘Something in the Whiskey’ that remind us of the good times - and was this something you considered when writing it?
I do think it’s important. I think it’s important because music affects us all emotionally and on an incredibly deep level, like nothing else out there and if all the songs in the world of country music were sad, then it would make us sad all the time as listeners. So yes, I think it’s important that country music is as varied as it is with emotions and energy. We all have those handful of songs that if we feel in a certain way, sad…happy…romantic…that we put on, turn up and get completely lost in. That’s the power of music and especially country music in my eyes.
In the song you talk about how things are easier with this person by your side and how it makes you more complete. How important do you think it is in life that we have a strong support network?
They say that we have the income of the five closest people to us, right? They say that about income, but I think it’s true about life and who we are as people, we are a mix of the closest people to us. A support system is hugely important and more important to some people than others, everyone has their own ways of dealing with life and the stresses that come with it. It’s important to have good people by your side, people who only want the true best for you and who want you to succeed for real – some people tell you they want that but don’t genuinely mean it, you need to steer well clear of these ones! But also I think it’s very important to be self-sufficient and not have to reply on other people to get you where you want to get. Being a strong enough person in the music industry is massive, yes there are people who can help various aspects of your life, but ultimately, it comes down to you and no one is going to perform on stage for you – you’ve got to get knowledgeable and confident in your own skin, know your weaknesses and your strengths and give it beans when you perform.
What do you hope people get from ‘Something in the Whiskey’ when they hear it for the first time?
I hope it makes them feel alive and energised. Whiskey is often associated with Country songs, and for me it's associated with friends and family around a campfire down on a beach with sand in your toes and being with the one you love and enjoying those times together, so I hope the songs makes people think of those kinds of happy times and enjoying time with the ones they love.
Your song ‘Give a Little’ followed in the nature of its name when you generously donated all the proceeds to the NHS. What inspired you to do this and how did it feel to be able to help in this way?
'Give A Little’ is a song very close to my heart. I got in touch with the local Perranarworthal Community Primary School as I thought it would be great to get some children involved from there and get them on the record! We got 22 of them into the studio and recorded them on the track – it was amazing to know they had that experience that I hope they’ll remember for years to come. Giving the proceeds to the NHS was something that I really didn’t have to think much about, the song is perfect for them and everything they did throughout the lockdowns, and still continue to do to keep us safe whilst doing their jobs day in day out to try and look after the ones affected by the pandemic. I was meant to do a bit of a video to help promote the song to make more money for them, but ironically the CEO of the Hospital put a stop to it. But that topic’s for another day!
You’ve worked with some big name artists in the past such as Michael Buble, Paul Young and Newton Faulkner. What did you learn from these artists and how do you apply that to your own music?
This is an awesome question and one I’ve never been asked before! I would say each one taught me something completely different. When I worked with Paul Young, I learnt that nothing quite beats experience, and years and years of grafting really does get you comfortable (as it did for him!) to be on stage and perform well. With Newton Faulkner, the first thing I noticed when I sang with him was how raw and natural his pure talent for singing was. He is a great guitarist also, but his voice is so powerful, and he was a very humble man who was just doing his thing and loving every second of it. Finally, when it came to singing with Michael Buble at the NEC, I have to say the number one thing that came across was his professionalism, it was awe-inspiring to watch first hand just how professional that man is. He’s also a really kind man too and was extremely kind towards me and made me feel incredibly welcome and at ease – like me, he also gets very sweaty on stage!
Finally, one thing we ask all of our interviewees is to name top three songs that relate to mental health. What would be your top three?
Wow – this is getting my brain ticking!... I would say my first song would be ‘Homecoming Queen’ by Kelsea Ballerini. This song is all about not pretending and putting on a front - and that sometimes it’s okay to cry and it’s not a weakness to be sad sometimes. Her voice in the song is haunting and incredibly, intensely intimate and this, alongside the lyrics, brings the song together beautifully.
My second song would have to be ‘Humble & Kind’ by Tim McGraw. The song is one of the best songs out there in my opinion and the video just makes it even more awesome – go check it out on YouTube if you haven’t seen it already. The song is about being a better person for yourself and the people around you by being humble and kind in everything you do. I love the motto in this song and it resonates hugely with me, and I think it’s a great way to live.
My third song is ‘Letter To Me’ by the one and only Brad Paisley. This song talks about what you would say to your younger-self if you could write a letter to your younger-you back in the day, given all that you’ve learnt along the way since. It opens your mind up to being okay with not knowing everything all of the time, and that you’re going to make mistakes in life and it’s one big learning curve. And ultimately, yes, you’ll make some crap decisions in life, but we’re all doing all we can when we get those choices - and mistakes are inevitable.
Keep an eye out for 'Something in the Whiskey' - available to stream November 1st
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 11 below!