Thomas White on BBC 6Music

Another fanatical fan blog – but nowhere near as much as Marc Riley (website) Read on for his latest interview + session with Mr White.

Fan recordings posted in the transcript below – individual songs in this blog post

Thomas White interview + session on Marc Riley’s show, BBC 6Music, 10th Feb 2010

I was hoping to subtitle the webcam photos “Thomas models his latest poncho” but unfortunately he never wore it and wasn’t in shot. He managed to get himself captured just before their last song, wearing a white shirt and tie (see below) He played Jerusalem Thorn, Accidentally Like a Martyr and The Weekend. Marc Riley is genuinely one of his biggest fans. Thomas was totally comfortable on the show. The best thing is Alex was there too and you could pretend it was Electric Soft Parade. And why not.


On the programme tonight – optimism costs nothing as I’ve already said tonight. Tom White’s going to be playing live in this room, that is the plan. We spoke to Tom around about 20 minutes ago and they’re just about getting into Manchester now but we’re not sure if that means Greater Manchester and they’re 25 miles away or if they mean Manchester City centre which is a little bit clogged up in itself. Tom White, obviously, Electric Soft Parade, also Restlesslist, also Brakes, occasionally British Sea Power, and now in a solo stylee; 4-piece band, can’t wait to get ’em in the room. Every cloud has a silver lining, because I can tell you infact they’ve just arrived.

I’ve been bigging up Thomas White on the guitar all week – indeed all month. He’s playing bass, isn’t he…

6Music Session

Audio Part 1 – Jerusalem Thorn + Interview

I’m Marc Riley and I’m delighted to say that Thomas White and his mates are in the room. You are mates aren’t you. You’ve been in a van together for like 8 hours, so if you weren’t mates, that would’ve been hellish. Julie’s been on; the marvellous Thomas White – ask him to dedicate his songs to his poor old suburban auntie Julie, that’d make my year – excellent show as usual. So, welcome to the programme.

TW: We’re so glad to see you.

You know what… we’ve talked before about the old guiltometer but I mean the guilt is swinging very very high tonight.

TW: In the red.

It’s peaking at 11. Because you have come from Brighton today and it’s been a pig of a journey. 8 hours in the making.

TW: Snow, traffic, roadworks.

Traffic? Between here and Brighton? You’re joking? The last time I went to Brighton it was just all horses and carts. Are there cars on the roads as well now? But an absolute delight to have you in the room. Introduce the band then first Thomas.

TW: We got Mr Andrew Mitchell from the band The Hazey Janes all the way from Dundee, he’s on guitar – white stratocaster there. Say hello Andy.

Andy: Hello.

He’s a brave man playing guitar in a band with you but anyway… he’s a great guitarist.

TW: Fine collection of shirts as well. Mr Alex White, my dear brother on the keyboard there rocking up the old sampled mellotron sounds, also rocking up a nice shirt and Mr Damo Waters, Muddy Suzuki on the drumkit.

Now then. Do you want me to call you Thomas all night? I will if you want.

TW: I’d love that.

Right OK Thomas. I like your hair.

TW: It’s very silly isn’t it.

Well you know, it’s hard to describe really. If you were to stand to your right, it would look slightly like you had a mohican but certainly skinhead down the side. But if you look the other way, you’re normal. Normal Thomas on one side… are you a bit of a schizophrenic person anyway?

TW: Oh dear yeah, heading that way. Let’s not do that.

Right, Ok. There’s a webcam so we’ll try and catch you on there a little bit later on.

TW: Both sides…

I’ve been bigging you up as one of my favourite guitarists and there you are with a Rickenbacker bass.

TW: I couldn’t resist. It works for singing. I’ve got to say onstage, it’s so much easier because you don’t have a big guitar amp behind you and you can hear your vocal and it works… Sheryl Crow, she plays bass live.

But so does Sting and I don’t like swearing on the programme…

TW: Sting Sting Sting Sting Sting…

I thought, Alex, you’d be playing drums and you’re on keyboards. You’re just messing me about you lot.

A: It’s to keep you interested basically you know.

I’m always interested in what you guys do, you know that. You’ve got a solo album; is it out yet?

TW: No, 15th of March.

And what is “A Maximalist”?

TW: I guess the easiest way to describe it is the opposite of a minimalist. I direct anyone wondering to Wikipedia.

Or the Viz Profanisaurus.

TW: Oh dear.

I tell you what. Do a tune, why don’t you. What’s this one called?

TW: This is called Jerusalem Thorn.

Me: I can imagine Morrissey singing this, though I haven’t heard the original yet, it has echoes of his lyricism/vocals and I wish the lyrics accompanied the album (if not, they should) I’d play it on repeat if I wasn’t doing this transcription… Towards the end I can also hear echoes of ESP playing live, on KCRW in America. They had been travelling for considerably longer when they did that session though.

Strike a light, that was super. Thomas White, live in session with his mates and that was a track called Jerusalem Thorn, which is to be found on the album, the opposite of minimalist. Try saying that after a couple of pints. Well, thanks for coming in.

TW: Thank you.

You can go now… only joking. We’ll have 2 more of a similar ilk in about quarter of an hour’s time. That was magnificent.

Audio Part 2 – Accidentally Like A Martyr + Interview

We’ve got a dedication to be made. Drummer, please.

Damo: It’s my Dad’s birthday today. I think he’s er… 60-something. We won’t go into details but anyway happy birthday Dad.

Do you know when you said that you weren’t going to go into details? I think you just did really.

At this point the interview buffered and cut a bit out but Marc obviously asked about the album sleeve.

TW: It’s (by) a legendary American modern artist called Keith Boadwee who we know. He lives in San Francisco and the last time we were over there, we stayed with him. He put us up for a couple of days, or rather put up with us for a couple of days.

I was going to say that myself – very good.

TW: He’s a lovely chap. He’s a big Electric Soft Parade fan which is how we initially met him, he followed us around California when we toured there and we’ve got to know him and he kindly let me use that. I saw the shot on his website and just fell in love with it. His art’s very mixed; loads of different kinds of media and he does a lot of photography, a lot of performance art. He’s fantastic and he kindly let me use that for nothing and he’s a very nice chap.

Well we’re talking about it as if people can see it but they can’t. I’ll describe it. Mainly it’s a man’s face (TW: it’s his face) and there are raspberries are they?

TW: The piece is called Berries and it’s basically him pushing berries into his eye sockets:

So, it really looks like he’s actually poking his own eyes out, doesn’t it.

TW: It’s a rather fetching image I think.

It’s quite dark but suitable for the music.

TW: I think it suits it just right yeah.

So, you’re going to do another song now. What’s this one?

TW: This is called Accidentally Like A Martyr and it’s a Warren Zevon song. It’s off the record; I kind of like to do a cover on each album. A little nod to people I like. And he was a great songwriter.

OK mate, well take it away then.

Me: The Lyrics are in this blog post along with a different version of the original, which is far darker than this one, if that’s possible.

That was really wonderful. Accidentally Like A Martyr. A Warren Zevon song there which is taken from The Maximalist, Thomas White’s album, which is out on the 15th March. The next tune you’re going to do is quite long so if you don’t mind, we will do it in the last half hour. Just to continue the conversation for a short while. It sounded to me like it could have been a Derek and the Dominoes tune.

TW: Is that a good thing?

It is absolutely and the way that you delivered it. Ironically you’re the only one who could never in a million years, by the look of you, have been in Derek and the Dominoes. But the other three, quite plausible.

TW: Checkered shirts…

Yeah beard. Plenty of stubble and all that. Is any of you wearing flares.

A: Not quite, no.

Not that you’d admit on air. I’ve just come through to your own Myspace Thomas, and the picture of you on there is a great picture. If I was in a pop quiz, I’m rubbish right. If I go to a pop quiz, people say, he shouldn’t be allowed, he’s on the radio. And I say, just give it 5 minutes and you’ll find out I know nothing. The only thing I can ever do is the picture round. And if they’d showed me that picture of you, I’d never in a million years have guessed.

TW: It’s fairly striking.

I think a career in male modelling looms large.

TW: Oh dear.

That’s none of my business.

Audio Part 3 – The Weekend + Interview

Thomas White back in the room. I have mentioned it on air before, obviously you know, but there’s Electric Soft Parade and Brakes and Restlesslist, which I still don’t like saying…

TW: Clowns…

Clowns, which I need to hear.

TW: It’s a cracking band. We’re recording our album at the end of February.

Fabulous and also playing with British Sea Power from time to time when Woody was poorly.

TW: Yeah, beginning of 2008, I stepped in for a tour.

You, probably, have been in more than anybody else (for a session) Alex, you haven’t been in with Restlesslist, have you?

A: No, no.

(Me: At this point you wish he’d asked Alex what he’s been doing i.e. his soul band Soul To Squeeze)

Do you know what happened earlier on? The last time that you came, you immediately started looking round going “where’s the kid” and you weren’t happy, were you?

TW: He’s back, or is it a girl? He’s on the piano anyway.

Somebody had put it in the fire escape. Isn’t that shocking.

A: Thanks for that, cheers, that’s our mascot.

So tomorrow night you’re playing at the Slaughtered Lamb in London.

TW: We’ve done a little residency, this is the second one.

On the 12th you’re in Brighton at The Prince Albert.

TW: Yep. Same deal, kind of residency thing. These are our first two headline shows as a full band. So it’s fun and interesting – FUNTRESTING.

Very good, he’s just absolutely with it tonight, isn’t he.

The Prince Albert, you know they have signs hanging up outside the pub, what have they got a picture of?

TW: They’ve actually got a massive mural of John Peel on the side.

A: Also, an original Banksy; the one with the two policemen kissing.

TW: That’s the one. Which now has perspex screwed over it.

Because people start paintbombing them don’t they… That sounds like a cool place and it certainly will be a cool place in a couple of nights time because you’re playing there. So, one last tune then, but it’s a whopper.

TW: This is called The Weekend.

Go for it…

Me: This could be an ESP track, sound-wise. It makes me happy that Alex is in the live band. It’s the ambience they create together… The spoken word section really sets it off.

Strike a light, that was tasty. It was all brilliant, but drumming – top notch (Damo Waters) Just absolutely brilliant, so for the last time tonight, Thomas White in session, with his mates, as we say in the trade.

TW: They’ve actually got a name. It’s Thomas White and Travelodge. If they’ll let us use it.

I’m sure they will. I’m sure they’ll be honoured. That was amazing fellas. Thanks for coming in and I’ll see you next time, then…