Their Library: Tom Williams & The Boat

Literary influences explored...
Tom Williams and the Boat

Some people just seem to be able to create music at will, as natural as breathing.

Tom Williams & The Boat are a case in point. The band recently returned with new album 'Teenage Blood' which saw them expand upon the promise of their debut with yet more folk infused songsmithery.

Yet it seems that beyond those ten songs the collective were in a production mood - initial writing sessions, they revealed recently, produced more than 100 tracks. A colossal catalogue by any standards, the creative process behind this is capture on the group's limited edition new DVD.

'Yearbook' is a glimpse into the world of Tom Williams & The Boat, and features (deep breath) 4 unreleased tracks from the ‘Teenage Blood’ album sessions, a 30 minute documentary about the making of the album, directed by Anthony Jarman, plus b-sides, out takes, a Topman CTRL session, photos, videos and much more.

Deeply literate, Tom Williams matches an effortless melodic sense with lyrics that seem to pirouette around your unconscious.

A perfect candidate for Their Library, then...

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What is your favourite book and why?
At the moment I'm reading a book of short stories by Primo Levi, it's great, the stories are schizophrenic, playful, philosophical and brutal. I was leant the book by my girlfriend who was illustrating another one of his books. He's new to me, but I'm digging deeper. What other authors do you like? I love reading plays, I got into it at school, but I love Pinter, Beckett, King Lear and Othello are my favourite Shakespeare plays, I also really love the poet Tony Harrison, he's a real muscial poet, hearing him read his own work is amazing, all wrapped up in this thick accent, same goes for John Cooper-Clarke, I have audio of him reading his poems on my ipod, took it on tour with me too recently!

What draws you to certain books?
A recommendation from a friend usually does it. I get a lot from Josh who plays Bass in the Boat, he's worked in book shops a lot over the years so is very well read and always has a suggestion, "oh you'll like this you know?"

Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
I've always heard it referenced, but it took me ages to actually get round to reading, 'On The Road' by Kerouac and I loved it. Never has a book so romanticised sitting in a Little Chef on the M1 and watching the traffic hurtle by!

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
They do but mostly through the artists I listen to most. I don't read as much as I should, if I have a spare hour I usually play guitar and sing or put a record on. I'll read the sleeve notes religiously and recite song lyrics at you, but a lot of the artists I dote on, Dylan, Cohen, Young, Springsteen are all very literary influenced.

What are you reading at the moment?
A book of Gil Scott-Heron lyrics!

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
It must have been Roald Dahl, or Beatrix Potter... I also remember a book called, 'Mummy Laid An Egg' which we later saw on the evening news, being lambasted as a particularly bad introduction to the ideas of sexual reproduction for young children.

Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
No not at all, I was too busy playing football, skateboarding, and later, playing guitar.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
No, I'm OK finishing them, it's picking them in the first place that's the problem.

Do you read book reviews?
Can't say I do know, I'm down on Literary press, I rather get stuff from friends. Would you ever re-read the same book? Yes think I will with 'On The Road'... Hypothetically!

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
I have a strange affinity with the protagonist in 'L'Etranger' I'm no murderer, but I certainly identify with that sense of being incapable to react to something emotionally.

Do you read one book at a time or more than one? 
I often have a couple open at a time, especially if it's poetry or short stories.

Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
I still hold songwriters in far higher esteem than I do any authors, the challenge is to say it all in 3 minutes, that's what someone like Dylan, Springsteen, Young or Cocker do so well. If I could write anything as succinct as, 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go' I'll die a happy man. As far as collaboration goes, it's difficult to say. I tend to write very quickly, very from the hip, like those bitchy early Dylan break up songs sound. I'd love to see someone like Leonard Cohen work; How he chisels away at words and songs for years on end. I'd like to be an apprentice to someone like that, as far as collaboration goes, that's up to them but I'd just be appreciative to watch. Make them tea or something.

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'Yearbook' is out now.

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