Tom Walker is an upcoming artist from Manchester, who started his UK tour last Sunday right here in Exeter. Before the actual performance, I had the opportunity to interview him myself. For a man with such a huge voice and talent, he was actually an extremely humble and genuine guy and was very happy to open up about his journey into music. With this interview, as well as with his magnificent performance on stage, one can easily see how passionate he is about music and performing live.
This passion for music was deeply rooted at home for Tom. He became inspired to start making his own music by listening to his dad’s records at home and going to concerts in Manchester at a young age. His family’s support helped him majorly in pursuing his career in music. Tom was also inspired by other musicians that he grew up listening to, such as John Mayer and ACDC, as well as by his contemporaries, such as ‘The Beach’, who opened for Tom on Sunday. Therefore, with these influences you can imagine Tom’s sound to be a mixture of genres. He himself describes it as pop with influences of rock, indie, and hip hop, “with a splash of reggae”. All of the above were definitely demonstrated in his performance, with his voice having very gritty rock tones and his band exuding an indie Arctic Monkey-esque style. However, the arrangement of songs made it equally adaptable to heavy beats and techno vibes. One word I would not use to describe Tom Walker’s music is boring, as he likes to keep the audience on their toes with his tempo changes and bass drops.
Tom also likes his audience to get involved and at one point we were all singing along with him to ‘Just You and I’. He even got the audience in hysterics after ranting about losing his guitar on a British Airways flight and explaining how he’d got his new one. Then he decided to name one of his screaming fans in the audience Barry and named his new guitar Barry as well. His light-heartedness only aided his performance, allowing the audience to relate to him and see him, not just as an amazing musician, but as a fellow Englishman with a crass sense of humour. His sense of humour was further highlighted throughout the interview as was his very down to earth approach to life. He was very honest about the issues involved in starting a music career in the UK (principally financial) stating that it took him almost two years to break even. Tom also highlighted his struggle to find a band, however his efforts have clearly paid off as he had an excellent band and support circle on the night. His opening act “The Beach”, as mentioned above, was also brilliant and set the scene for an entertaining night, drawing everyone away from the bar to the stage.
The night was an overall success and very entertaining. What I personally liked about Tom Walker’s music, as well its fire and soul, was the stories behind each of his songs. His songs ‘Leave the Light On’ and ‘Fly Away With Me’ address some very pertinent contemporary issues, such as drugs and homelessness. I asked Tom in the interview where these messages had come from. He stated that a lot of these issues came from what he has seen back home in Manchester and what he has seen a lot of his friends experience, being a young adult in the current economic climate. To write songs about these mass and not very glamorous problems is truly inspiring and unique in the music industry and it is also a good way of generating awareness and encouraging action.
At the end of the interview I asked Tom what his intentions were for the near and distant future. He hopes to continue on his UK tour and keep releasing new singles. He would love to headline at the M.E.N Arena and Glastonbury and he said it would be his dream to open for other soulful musicians such as John Mayer or Fat Freddy’s Drop. I also asked him what advice he would give to other young artists breaking into the music industry and in his own words its “all graft and breaking down doors”.
– by Katie Wells