Thomas White BBC 6 Music Session 28th March: Transcript + Listen Again

Thomas White BBC 6 Music Session 28th March: Tracklist: All The Fallen Leaves – King Of The Kingdom – I’ve Seen The Sunrise – Listen Again: (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:

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Thomas White: Marc Riley 28th March + Brighton Music Blog Interview

Marc Riley Session 28th March: Wednesday, 19:00 on BBC Radio 6 Music Thomas White in acoustic mode this evening on the show. A man with many hats Thomas White of The Electric Soft Parade, Brakes and Clowns, one might say he’s a prolific fella. The Brighton based musician White regularly appears as a session player for Patrick Wolf, British Sea Power and Sparks. He’s done numerous sessions for us and we can’t wait for this. It’s always a treat to welcome Thomas to Riley Towers. We’ve also got North East lads The Futureheads performing tunes from their current acappella album Rant. We really are spoiling you tonight.


Visit the link to read the full interview, here’s some quotes – much more from Thomas on their website.

This week sees the release of Thomas White’s new album Yalla, and I thought I’d find out a bit more about him via the pubs he lists in the lyrics of the closing track The English Sargasso: The Dorset, The Hand In Hand, Fitzherbert’s and The Globe.

We start things off at The Dorset, or to give it it’s full title, The Dorset Street Bar. There are records of The Dorset being a pub going back to 1845, so it’s been a firm fixture in Brighton for quite some time.

RO: So the album’s called Yalla! Where did that come from?

TW: The name loosely means “Let’s get going” or “Come with me” or “Follow me”, that kind of thing, but that side of it’s got nothing to do with the album at all. It was the name of a bar out in Dahab. It’s weird talking about it as a finished thing, because it was just a few little recordings on my laptop when I was out there. By the end of the trip I’d got the tracklisting roughly in my head and had worked out I wanted to do something with it. Straight after coming back from Egypt, I went on tour with the Levellers, and I played them it on the tour bus one night and they said “you’ve got to do something with this, what’s it called?” and the folder it was saved in on my laptop was called Yalla, and that just stuck.

RO: It was recorded out in Egypt, but before the Arab Spring of 2011, was there any hint of that at the time?

TW: I was out there September to October 2010, and then I went back out on New Years Eve 2010 and stayed for another two weeks. The second time I was there I left maybe two weeks before everything kicked off, and there wasn’t a hint of it. There wasn’t the smallest little sniff that anything might kick off.

RO: What was the process of recording it?

TW: I truly had nothing to do and I got a bit freaked out. I had just worked for nine or ten years solidly on music and never really taken a break. It was my first holiday in five or six years. I just don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t had my guitar and laptop and the means of recording. I’d go to a bar about seven or eight in the evening – the bars only get busy at the weekends – and just sit there and write stuff down and just doss on my own, and the next morning I’d try and get some kind of shape around the lyrics or try and fit the lyrics onto another chord progression.

RO: What were your influences when you were writing the album? It’s got a very 60s psychedelic folk feel to it. Is that the sort of thing you were listening to at the time?

TW: I was listening to a lot of The Clientele – really great, maybe a little bit more twee – and a lot of Broadcast – I always listen to a lot of Broadcast and Trish Keenan’s my favourite singer – and a lot of Saint Etienne. I was really trying to get that light, female sounding vocal.

RO: The cover of your album is a piece of art made by your dad?

TW: I don’t really know the story behind it, I just asked if I could use it and he said yes. It’s called “Festival”. To me it looks almost like paving stones or crazy paving, or maybe the bottom of a swimming pool. It’s made of small cutouts from the Guardian and Observer magazines. He doesn’t want to do anything with them, it’s just one of his ways to pass the time.

The next pub in the song “The Hand”, refers to The Hand in Hand up in Kemptown, run by a friend of Tom’s. It’s also home to Brighton’s only remaining brewery. We decide not to walk all the way up to Kemptown, but it’s a good point for us to talk about record labels, which go hand in hand with the artist to put out a record.

RO: How did you end up on Bleeding Hearts?

TW: I’ve got to credit a friend of mine, Miles Heathfield (from the band Clowns) who basically badgered Chris Davies to put the record out. I’m sure he said to me “This stuff’s great, you’ve got to put it out”, and then the next thing I knew he said “I’ve spoken to Chris and he’s going to give you a call”. He made the whole thing happen originally.

RO: Had you played a Bleeding Hearts night before this?

TW: I had, yeah. I’d played it once or twice.

RO: And you’re playing the next one?

TW: Yep – on the 2nd April. The night after the London show.

We move now to Fitzherbert’s, the third pub mentioned. Maria Fitzherbert was the Prince Regent’s unofficial wife – she was a catholic and a widower, and an official marriage would have taken him out of line for succession of the throne. Later, the Prince Regent went onto marry one of his cousins officially – Caroline of Brunswick (who gave her name to the pub by the Level) – but Mrs Fitzherbert continued to live in Steine House a few doors away from the Pavilion and there was an underground tunnel between the two. This seems like a good point to ask Tom about Brighton, and about his history.

RO: You’re one of those rare sorts – an original Brightonian, aren’t you?

TW: I am. Been here too long!

RO: So, why did you choose the four pubs named in The English Sargasso?

TW: Certainly I’ve spent enough time in The Dorset, and The Hand In Hand is run by my mate Matty Davies. And The Globe – tons of my friends work in there or worked there. I basically know all the staff – my friend Jordan started working there and I got to know everyone over the last few years and I met my partner in there. All together they just tripped off the tongue for some reason.

It’s around now that my notes would have us move onto the last pub – The Globe – and lead the conversation onto the greater world of Thomas White and the other projects he’s been working on. But we’ve still got a drink in front of us, and we can hear ourselves talk so let’s just pretend we’ve moved on.

RO: You’re recording some new Electric Soft Parade next week – is that a single or an album, or are you just heading into the studio to see what happens?

TW: It’s an album. We’re doing four weeks. It’s all written.

RO: What about Brakes? When you played the Green Door Store in January last year, you said at the time that you were taking a day off of recording the new album?

TW: We got a lot of good stuff done, but Brakes doesn’t really involve that much input from me and my brother. That’s not something enforced by Eamon, we made the decision a while ago not to mess with the stuff he writes, to really just wait for him to write those classic Brakes sounding songs. We did a lot of sessions where we’d build backing tracks and he’d try and put vocals on top of them and it didn’t have the same thing, so we took a step back from it for a while.

He’s just had two kids in quick succession, so we said to him “look, when you’ve got the time, get the songs together and we’ll go from there” rather than us trying to force it, so that’s what we’ve done, and he’s coming over at the beginning of April and we’re going to do a couple of weeks then and try and squeeze an album out of him.

That’s really how Brakes works – we tried it in a few different configurations, but he’s one of those songwriters, a bit like Frank Black – it’s our band, but definitely his songs, and he’s got such a definite way of writing and such a strong voice.

RO: You also played on the Milk & Biscuits record that came out on Big Salad just before Christmas?

TW: That was done quite a while ago. I just helped Matt out recording one of the tunes on it, played on a couple of tunes on it, and made him a little video. Milk & Biscuits is really interesting – Matt has played in various bands, he played in a band called Zetasaur and plays in a band called Restlesslist.

RO: Weren’t you on the first Restlesslist Record?

TW: Yeah, and I played on and wrote a bunch of tracks on the new one. I don’t play with them live anymore but I record with them and write stuff. Milk & Biscuits was a little idea that Matt had, and he did a few recordings. I think he surprised a lot of people with that. I think a lot of people saw him as a guy they’d seen playing bass in a lot of bands, and he came out with this beautiful mini album. It’s great though.

RO: Is he going to do any more with that?

TW: Yeah, he’s got some quite elaborate plans, but I shan’t spoil the surprise.

RO: Anything else out there that’s about to pop out?

TW: We’ll just leave it at that, for now. I’m under oath. I’m not allowed to say.

RO: Finally, who else should we be looking out for in Brighton?

TW: I find those questions really hard. I think Kayla Bell from Foxes! is headed to do some really good stuff. She’s a really good singer. I don’t want to sound like a tit, but I’ve always felt she’s undersold by being in an indie band. I think give her a bit of space and give her quiet arrangements, something that lets her vocal sit higher in the mix. I think she’s great. Massively talented. There’s a great band called Fat Bitch – they’re a three piece, a bit Slint, a bit Don Cavalero, post-rocky stuff. Clowns as well. You should see Clowns. I used to play bass with them. That was a band I adored playing in, and I do miss it a lot, but I just didn’t have the capacity to keep doing it. But check them out, they’re amazing. They sound a bit like The Cardiacs, a tiny bit XTC, but more punk and more angry, just really interesting.

Thomas White is on Tumblr with a song from World On A Wire EP Here’s a quick hello to y’all here at my new home here at tumblr… gonna be posting reviews, news on shows and upcoming releases, any ESP + Brakes-related goings on, and pretty much anything else that piques my interest… shout me, follow me, repost stuff…

Thomas White – Dory Previn (click link to play at tumblr) ok, to kick things off proper, here’s a sneaky preview of one of the songs from the “Yalla!”-accompanying “World On A Wire” EP (more info here) This limited EP will be available from various indie shops in Brighton and London, as well as Piccadilly in Manchester. p.s. the track is a cover of the delightful Camera Obscura’s tribute to the late, great Dory P (original)

Fed up of girls in pretty dresses
With boys who wanna teach them a lesson
Sick of the sight of my old lover
Went under sheets and covers to get away from him

He can’t see what it once meant to me
I think it’s time I put him out of my mind

So I took a glimpse of Montana
Now nothing else matters
I’ll heal eventually
How I adore you Dory Previn
And turn you up to eleven for the band’s ears to bleed

I can’t see what he once meant to me
Do you think it’s time I put him out of my mind
Yeah I think it’s time I let my love for him die

Thomas White: Marc Riley 28th March + More Than The Music Interview

Marc Riley Session 28th March: Wednesday, 19:00 on BBC Radio 6 Music Thomas White in acoustic mode this evening on the show. A man with many hats Thomas White of The Electric Soft Parade, Brakes and Clowns, one might say he’s a prolific fella. The Brighton based musician White regularly appears as a session player for Patrick Wolf, British Sea Power and Sparks. He’s done numerous sessions for us and we can’t wait for this. It’s always a treat to welcome Thomas to Riley Towers. We’ve also got North East lads The Futureheads performing tunes from their current acappella album Rant. We really are spoiling you tonight.

Marc Riley 13th March: Thomas White of Electric Soft Parade et al has got a solo album out, it’s called Yalla, and we’re going to play for you now That Heavy Sunshine Sound. He is sickeningly talented, it has to be said… I think it’s out now, if it’s not then it will be coming out because I’ve got a copy of it and it does exist (out 19th March) If you don’t know Thomas White then he’s one of the two fabulously talented White Brothers the other being Alex, both of The Electric Soft Parade. Thomas also played guitar for Patrick Wolf and Sparks which I didn’t know. I’ll talk to him about that when he comes in in session for us. He also played drums for British Sea Power on a tour too.


Thomas White, the man armed with practically nothing but an acoustic guitar, an old Sony Handicam and his voice, fills in MTTM on his new album. Yalla! was written and recorded during his six-week stay in Egyptian town Dahab.

MTTM: Your new album, Yalla! is set for release this month. How do you feel about the forthcoming release?

Thomas: It’s always a relief when good press starts coming in for a record. I guess I’ve been blessed in the sense that critics have never felt the need to particularly maul my work, which I presume has saved me a lot of sleepless nights. In terms of the album, I think it’s my best solo work to date – most direct writing and production – which was a feat in itself, considering how much overdubbing and remixing went on with the last two…

MTTM: You’ve toured and recorded with a number of other artists. How has the experience and exposure influenced or developed your individual sound?

Thomas: I learnt drum playing in me and my brother’s band, The Electric Soft Parade. Then I pretty much learned how to play guitar from playing in Brakes. Playing with Patrick Wolf gave me the balls to go out there and not give a fuck what anyone thinks. Sparks have always been total icons in our household so that was just surreal, but I learnt so, so much in those two days playing with them. Unbelievable.

MTTM: Do you prefer performing solo or collaborating with others? Or are they simply different experiences?

Thomas: I like to do a little bit of everything all of the time. Collaborations keep you fresh, and you’d never learn anything new just sat in a room on your own, but self discovery is also a vital aspect. You have to have both, and can’t really have one without the other.

MTTM: A lot of your music is acoustic and vocally-driven. What is it about this style that attracts you to it?

Thomas: Personally, I don’t like too much going on in music. In the past I’ve been a real big fan of The Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse – people who really throw everything at the wall, production-wise. But I’ve come to realise there’s something impenetrably cool about stuff like Bert Jansch, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake – something no studio trickery can conjure.

MTTM: You recorded Yalla! while homesick in Egypt. Did you ever imagine or plan the release of the album, or was song-writing an escape?

Thomas: Neither really – I just sat down when I arrived and kinda had this internal realisation – six weeks is a long time, you know?! Then the first couple of weeks I got into this really nice routine, and before I knew it, these songs were pouring out. I think the only really conscious decision was not to get into any overdubbing of additional instruments and just keep it completely acoustic, which is a first for me.

MTTM: ‘Yalla’ means ‘let’s get going’ in Arabic; what’s the message behind this? Why did you choose it for the title of your album?

Thomas: It’s the name of a bar out in Dahab, and just seemed like a really cute little message to put out there into the world right now.

MTTM: Although only a few English shows are currently set-in-stone, can we expect to see more of you around the UK and Europe?

Thomas: Myself and my brother start work on a new ESP record this week, but diaries permitting I shall be venturing out with my mini-choir and performing the album in full at select dates throughout the summer, yes. Europe? Yes please!!!

Thomas White: New Album Yalla! 19th March, Videos + Shows

King Of The Kingdom: Video from the Bleeding Heart Recordings LP, YALLA! Selected Songs: Soundcloud

iTunes with Bonus

Bleeding Heart Recordings Blog has info of the limited edition EP – copies purchased from Rounder, Resident, Rough Trade and Piccadilly record shops received the bonus, limited edition, 5-track ‘World On A Wire’ EP featuring covers of Dory Previn, Billy Mackenzie – Video – Louis Armstrong and Camera Obscura, as well as an alternate version of King Of The Kingdom.

Yalla! Album Reviews – also has links to interviews.

That Heavy Sunshine Sound: Watch Video at the Hand in Hand, Brighton, November 2011

Bleeding Hearts Club, The Albert, Brighton: VIDEO 1VIDEO 2

More Videos:

All The Fallen LeavesUyeasound by Thirty Pounds Of BoneTime Has Told Me by Nick Drake