Tom Williams
The formative experiences of a cult songwriting talent...

Tom Williams should need no introduction.

Now sans boat, the English songwriter has been making marvellous, heartfelt, poetic music for over a decade now.

Retreating into the studio, Tom recently set about de-constructing his own work, pushing into fresh spaces in the process.

New cut 'Everyone Needs A Home' displays both a new sound and a fresh purpose, with the pointed, politicised lyricism tackling the ongoing refugee crisis amid blistering rock riffs.

Set to unleash new material throughout 2017, Tom Williams recently sat down to discuss his Foundations - the albums that form his bedrock...

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Bruce Springsteen - 'Born In The USA'

‘Born In The USA’ was the first Springsteen record I consciously remember hearing. My mum is a massive fan and I know she had a copy on cassette in the white mini she had when we were young. I always loved the album and have since became a total Bruce anorak. I also maintain it’s his finest album but hardcore fans always roll their eyes at me.

It’s certainly unique in that it’s all killer, it’s all singles. Side Two is arguably stronger than Side One. The machine gun of, ‘No Surrender’ into, ‘Bobby Jean’ and, ‘I’m Going Down’ are pretty hard to argue with and, ‘Downbound Train’ is maybe by favourite Springsteen tune ever.

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Elliott Smith - 'Either/Or'

‘Either/Or’ was the first Elliott Smith album anyone ever leant me and it’s still my favourite. From the first click of the cassette recorder at the beginning of, ‘Speed Trials’ to the the creaky chair and dog barking at the end of, ‘Say Yes’. It’s a remarkably beautiful sounding record and the songs are complex, sophisticated and nuanced enough to make even McCartney or Wilson blush.

Once I’d dug down back through ‘Elliott Smith’ and ‘Roman Candle’, and then up into the ether with ‘XO’ and ‘Figure 8’, I still always came back to, ‘Either/Or’. It’s Elliott on the brink of global recognition, and the musical greatness that the freedom and budget will bring him later on, is there for all to hear.

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Nirvana - 'From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah'

I loved ‘Nevermind’ from about the age of 12. It sounded cartoony and huge, and I loved it for that, but I spent most of my teenage years listening to, ‘Incesticide’ and ‘…Wishkah’. The indignant fury and power of the band throughout is just eye watering. Even though I invested in every film, live video and rarities box set I still often came back to this album. Highlights were always the false start on '...Teen Spirit', the version of 'School', and 'Aneurysm'.

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Oasis - '(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?'

This was the first album I ever bought, on cassette from Sainsbury’s. I think I must have bought it for, ‘Wonderwall’ and, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, I would have been 9, and I just wore it out. It still sounds like angels singing whenever I put it on. I go a bit misty eyed at how beautiful songs like ‘Some Might Say’ and ‘Cast No Shadow’ are, and ‘...Morning Glory’ itself is about as ferocious a stadium anthem as they ever had.

I remember lying in bed in the dark, falling asleep with my walkman headphones on, music blaring, every nuance of every sound emblazoning itself on my mind. I was obviously too young at the time to be aware of the tabloid nonsense that seemed to engulf the image of the band at that time but to my ear the songs were relentlessly romantic and forward-looking. There’s a simultaneous optimism and melancholy which is so endearing; I adore this album.

I remember going back into Sainsbury’s looking for the follow up and finding 'Definitely Maybe' thinking it was album #2. I put it on and was dismayed, ‘Where are the hits? Where’s the ‘Wonderwall’?!’

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Pavement - 'Slanted & Enchanted'

A very kind older boy at school leant me the deluxe double CD reissue of, ‘Slanted…’ and then left the school so I never had the chance to give it back. It had the whole album plus B-sides on Disc One and Disc Two had a couple of Peel sessions and other live stuff. Like hearing The Smiths for the first time, I remember it completely baffling me but I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I didn’t even really know the older boy but I do remember him looking like he could have been in Pavement, all lank greasy hair and plaid shirts. I think he leant me the CD because he knew I was obsessed with Nirvana.

I also remember there was a huge thick booklet full of amazing photos of filthy gear and squalid rehearsal rooms. I remember taking a train across Switzerland in the sun, aged about 16/17; 'Slanted...' on my headphones, endlessly flicking through the booklet. ‘Here’ was the first song to hit me and then the ramshackle bloody beauty of the whole thing came into focus. 'Trigger Cut' I think is my favourite.

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Catch up with Tom Williams HERE.

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