In anticipation of his upcoming album, we had a chat recently with RJ Thompson about that and much more.
Your first song came from seeing U2 at the MEN (now Manchester Arena), an important venue for many growing up, including myself, how has the recent tragedy affected you?
When awful things like that happen in places that you regularly go to, or have been to in the past, it certainly hits home. There’s not enough words to really express my sadness at the attacks, but all you can do as a community is pick yourselves up and pull together. As poet Tony Walsh said at the vigil, choose love.
You had a massive tour with Jools Holland, how was it to be sharing a stage with such a legend?
An honour. Jools is such a household name, and puts on one of the best shows I’ve seen, so it was a really proud moment for me when we got the call that we were heading out on tour with him. I feel very lucky that we get to do it all over again this year too.
What moments stand out for you in your career? You’ve toured extensively, I bet that’s been exciting.
We played at the Royal Albert Hall with Jools, so that stands out for obvious reasons, but there’s been a lot of good moments. I always remember the random or funny ones though, regardless of the size of the show. My band and I played a show a few years back at a party for one of my friends, and one of the slowest songs of the night ended up with the whole room playing limbo. Really bizarre!
Where do you draw your inspiration?
It’s such a hard question to answer really, because it can come from anywhere. Obviously the events of the last 12 months have given me plenty of inspiration, both positively and negatively, but every song I write has to mean something. I can’t write songs that are just “going through the motions”
You recently released a Bob Dylan cover, who else might we see you cover in the future?
Well we’ve also done a cover of The Beatles Come Together, which has been released as the B-Side to London. Other than that, we always throw one or two covers into our live set, but I don’t know what they’ll be yet.
Who are you listening to currently?
I’m a little stuck in my ways, and definitely have my favourites that get most of the play (the Dylans and Springsteens of this world), but I’ve also been really liking stuff from James Bay and Bruno Mars recently – both for very different reasons.
You’ve said as a song writer the last 12 months have given you reason to create music, the world is getting continually darker, is creating music even more important now?
I think it is. I’ve said it before, but I think musicians, artists, authors… they all have an obligation to hold a mirror up to society a little bit. It’s important for the artist themselves, because you are making things that are relevant, but it’s also important for the listener… knowing that others feel the same as you, or maybe don’t feel the same as you.
What’s next for you?
I’m just finishing up the album, which I hope to release in the autumn, and then we’ve got tour plans towards the end of the year.
London recently dropped, can you tell us a bit about this track and the accompanying video, it’s full of metaphor and is truly poignant.
It is a song about an immigrant in London, and how that specific person felt alienated last summer as a result of the referendum result. Ultimately, despite it’s deep subject matter, it’s really a song of hope. About finding solace in the ones you love. The video is one of my proudest moments so far. I just think it nails how I feel, and I suspect how a lot of people feel. The basic message of the video is to encourage people to stand up against things that you don’t agree with.
15th September – Sage, Gateshead (Headline Show)
29th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
30th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
1st December – SECC, Glasgow (Jools Holland Support Tour)
22nd December – First Direct Arena, Leeds (Jools Holland Support Tour)
WATCH HERE-R J Thompson’s ‘London’