Thomas White BBC 6 Music Session 28th March: Tracklist: All The Fallen Leaves – King Of The Kingdom – I’ve Seen The Sunrise – Listen Again: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00qklhk (hear clips from his session tracks and the full conversation)
Here’s the session for those unable to listen through the above link (from the original broadcast with some distortion) Better without bass boost.
Thomas White BBC6 Music 28th March 2012 Part One 12mb approx.
Thomas White BBC6 Music 28th March 2012 Part Two 8mb approx.
M: I’m delighted to say, for how many times we’ve had Thomas White in session over the years I don’t know but Thomas, welcome to the programme.
T: Hello there. M: Always an absolute joy and I can see that you’re a hard task master or “tarskmaster” because you’re sat down but your colleagues, well at least two of them are stood up.
T: They’ve gotta stand. M: They’ve gotta stand haven’t they… they went to get chairs and you just gave them that icy glare. T: I didn’t! I said grab a stool if you wanna stool…
Heather: He’s got a taser in his pocket. M: A taser? It used to be a cattle prod, he’s moving with technology isn’t he. Thomas introduce the rest of the members of your ensemble today please.
T: We’ve got Heather Urquhart here on vocals. M: Where did you get Heather from? T: A good friend of ours from Brighton and we’ve got Adam Kidd here as well on vocals… M: Or sulky kid as he’s often known. T: Sulky kid in the corner on vocals without a stool. I know these guys from Brighton and they’ve been helping me perform the songs from this new album for the last few months. Introduce yourselves.
M: No they don’t need to sell themselves, I tell you what will sell them, their voices when they come in. I was just wondering if you were involved in any other bands that I might know?
Adam: I’m in a group called Fragile Creatures. M: Fragile Creatures, right OK, have you brought a CD? A: I have! M: Well there you see that works, doesn’t it, absolutely. And there is another presence, a weird, eerie presence within the room. T: There’s this dude in the corner, he’s facing the wall. No he isn’t. My dear brother Alex is with us. M: Absolutely, lovely to see you mate. So he’s not trusting you with any harmonies tonight then? (A: No I’m on driving duties) Well you keep clear of the fridge.
M: We’ll get to grips with what exactly Yalla! is all about mate but what’s the first song you’re going to do for us? T: We’re going to play All The Fallen Leaves which is the first track on the album.
M: Thomas White live in session with All The Fallen Leaves and that’s a track taken from the Yalla! album. So you went away, you went to Egypt didn’t you for a while just to get away from things really. Did you go out there with the sole intention of writing?
T: I’d actually shared a flat with a good friend of mine called Claire in about 2004 in London and we kind of fell out of touch and she moved to Dahab in Egypt a good few years ago now and she married a guy out there and had a kid. I’d get the odd email or message online or whatever and she just kept on trying to get me to take a holiday over there and money and other things stopped me doing it and then late 2010 I booked this 6 week holiday. I find it hard having one day off.
M: You’re a very hardworking fella. You do your own stuff and you do Electric Soft Parade. If British Sea Power should need a drummer you do it. T: Well that’s it, I just get extremely kind of nervy and itchy when I have time off. So I arrived there and I’d luckily taken this little travel guitar and my laptop and a little microphone. Going out there I thought maybe I’ll write some stuff, not thinking I’d get anything usable.
About a week went by and I was this weird mix of awe at this amazing new place; incredible weather, wildlife, whatever else but also real mad homesickness. I hadn’t been away, certainly never been on holiday on my own and I was just plonked right in the deep end in this foreign place.
Dahab’s a very small town, very very different. Essentially it was a bit of culture shock and homesickness and all the rest. I started writing. After the first few days these kind of themes were happening. I’d find it really easy… I never want to labour over things I write. If something works, it works and it should be immediate as a listener and also to write it. You shouldn’t have to labour over something for months. It took about a week and a half to write and I initially didn’t think anything would come of it when I got back and I played it to a few people and people seemed to really like the songs. Then a friend of mine, Miles Heathfield from the band Clowns, he put me in touch with this label down in Brighton and essentially made it happen. He kinda got the ball rolling so I have to credit him really. M: You just have.
M: The tune we’ve been playing most on this programme is That Heavy Sunshine Sound which is a really really beautiful song and indeed we played it back to back with Paul McCartney every night and it sounded an absolute treat. You’ve been writing songs for a long time now, how old were you when you started The Electric Soft Parade and indeed writing.
T: I was about 12 and I think Alex was about 14 or 11 and 13, something like that. But I think we’re only just getting good I have to say. It’s not as if you start writing and the first song you write is any good. I feel like we’re only just starting to write stuff I can hold up and go “this is actually any good whatsoever”.
M: Are you trying to tell me then that all the records that I’ve been playing, of yours, over the last however many years have been… T: are absolute bobbins. M: Well you’ve broke that to me gently, I have to be honest, I never even noticed.
T: That’s the point, it’s no disservice to any listener or anyone who’s ever got into our stuff, I just mean on a completely personal level. I feel like we’re only just starting to get good at all that stuff.
M: I know exactly what you mean because when I started doing this programme I was crap and now I’m just pretty crap. T: You’re consummate. M: You’ve gotta get better at things as you go along don’t you really. T: Of course.
M: Excellent stuff. You’re gonna do another tune for us right now then one later in the programme so what’s the next one gonna be Thomas? T: This is a tune called King Of The Kingdom.
M: Brilliant, Thomas White live in session with King Of The Kingdom… Just to other business for a moment if you don’t mind… “Alright Marc, I’m so jealous that you’re in a room with my guitar hero, Thomas White” (T: who said that?!) “Is it wrong to be a fanboy at 47 years old (M: so it’s not me) Can you ask him what’s going on with the Brakes at the moment and more importantly, will they be playing End Of The Road Festival as usual”. That’s from Ian in Cheltenham.
T: Wow. I can almost definitely say Brakes will be playing End Of The Road this year as we’ve played every single edition of the festival so far and Eamon, the singer in Brakes, he’s back over from America next week to play a show with British Sea Power and to do a week or so’s work on the new Brakes record. So it’s coming, it’s in the pipeline.
M: Just be patient. T: Just a bit of logistics to work out but we’re getting there. M: I need to ask you also (can’t go through everything) but Electric Soft Parade?
T: Me and Al have been in the studio for the last 2 weeks up in Bath, we’re working with the production team who made our first record with us, made Holes In The Wall with us and they’re now running their own little label. We’ve got I think 10 tracks down and it’s gonna be a 10 track album so we’re 50-60% there, just gotta bash some vocals on it, mix it and again, that’s on its way yeah.
M: Brilliant. Can I say to you Restlesslist? T: If you can. M: I do struggle, I really do struggle with it. T: Due to doing other things I’ve had to take a break from that but I still do writing with them, I still play on and wrote a lot of the new record. They’ve just finished their new album, Coral Island Girl, which is an extremely elaborate concept record, the kind of record that doesn’t get made these days anymore which I think is admirable in itself but it’s also great even just as a record, it’s an amazing album. They’re playing shows at the moment, playing the entire album start to finish, so if you get the chance, check it out.
M: Right OK, an excellent band… I did mention earlier on, is it right that you played guitar for Sparks for a while? T: I did, a while is a kind of loose time frame, it was only a day. M: Not that much of a while is it but you’ve still played with Sparks. T: Essentially their guy couldn’t do it and they had The Jonathan Ross show booked so I stepped in and played The Jonathan Ross show with them. It was great because they did a medley of their single at the time which was called Dick Around, we did a medley of that and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us so I think I made my parents happy/proud for the first time ever.
M: You will have to be proud with that definitely mate. Right Ok you’re gonna do one more tune and then you’re going to skedaddle aren’t you with Heather and Adam Kidd. So what are you gonna do next then? T: This one’s called, I’ve Seen The Sunrise.
M: Fabulous, once again Thomas White live in session with Heather Urquhart and Adam Kidd and of course kid Alex on the camera there, you’ve got another career looming large there mate I tell you. Fabulous session, thankyou very much, great to see you. T: Cheers Marc, you too.
Screenshots from the Studio Webcam: