Words: Leah Hamer
‘There is no such thing as good or bad’. It is with these bold words that Tom Lockett begins his interview. ‘It’s all perception…’, he continues, ‘What one person might perceive as bad, another might perceive as good. It’s the same with emotions. How people feel is decided by themselves. It's just about realising that you are the only person in control of your reality.’
I think it’s safe to say that Tom Lockett is not an artist preoccupied with tales of romance and heartbreak, nor getting wasted or high or fitting the other stereotypes of musicians that so many strive for. The subjects of Tom’s mind are instead filled with wondrous depth, as both his first single Feeling Bad and his demo Everything Changes In Time have indefinitely proven.
It comes as no surprise then that Tom’s musical appreciation throughout his adolescence was far more distinguished than most teenagers, The Beatles and The Kinks were his go-to choices growing up, along with a healthy mixture of everything from Britpop to indie to punk to reggae music. Today his playlist spans across seventy years of world music, all the way from the early 1900s until 1969, ‘I don't tend listen to music post-1970. I think all the best songs had already been written by then, although there are a few exceptions.’
Listening to his work with this knowledge in mind explains a great deal about Tom’s unique recording presence and style. Throughout Feeling Bad an array of miscellaneous instruments are used including an electric organ and harmonica, the use of which was inspired by the old songs that Tom values so highly, ‘I just listen to old songs and pick out the instruments I like the sound of. There's still plenty I haven't got round to using yet.’ As well as early twentieth century music, Tom lists literature, nature, spirituality and psychedelics amongst his other influences. This perhaps indicates more of what we can expect from both Tom and Magic Cactus Records, his own record label that has allowed the production of Feeling Bad.
Self-production can be a painful yet exhilarating accomplishment, but Tom is such an individual soul, that passing his record into the hands of somebody else, wouldn’t feel natural. ‘I think if you have a definite idea of how you want your music to sound, then it's essential to produce your own music, or at least work with someone who understands what you want. A lot of producers, and especially record labels, want to have their input and make you sound, or even look, a certain way. Recording and releasing it myself means I can produce and market it the way I want to.’
After formerly crafting his gift in Electroshock Therapy, solitude appears to be far easier for the recording process, ‘Recording was a lot more stressful with Electroshock Therapy because we used to always record live like they did in the old days, so we had to get it right all at the same time. Whereas recording my solo stuff is a lot easier because it's just overdubs, so if you make a mistake you can just do it again.’
Despite this, Tom hasn’t just been locked away in the studio alone for days on end. His right-hand man was Shaun Lowe (producer for The Drifters), who shared Tom’s vision, ‘I told him what I wanted and he knew how to achieve it.’
Tom will be celebrating the release of Feeling Bad on the 5th August at The Glebe with support from The King’s Pistol and Alix Musso, and the promise of a few new tracks on the night. Although he is performing across the country after the launch, Tom acknowledges that the music scene in Stoke is thriving, ‘It’s the best that I can remember, lots of bands and artists doing different things.’
And it is thanks to artists like Tom who aren’t afraid to push the limits of their own creativity and talent that this scene is feeling anything but bad. Read the review of Feeling Bad below.
The hearty screech of a harmonica greets your unprepared ears. The rhythmic bop that it creates within fifteen seconds is enough to rock you off your rocking chair. But then the voice of Tom Lockett appears and you have found yourself teleported to another world and another time. You’re going have to ditch your oatcakes and ale for some Southern mamma’s peaches and a glass of moonshine down in ol’ South Carolina. This is Feeling Bad.
The verse has a steady-foot-tapping motion which leaves you waiting for the bursts of hey hey mimicked by the harmonica in the chorus. An entirely uplifting and catchy beat holds hands with the happy-go-lucky and care-free lyrics. It contrasts so greatly to Tom’s previous demo, Everything Changes In Time, which was a dark, sorrowful thought-provoker.
The groove of the guitar solo and the welcomed surprise of the electric organ makes for an eclectic, psychedelic mix of instrumentation that produces an entirely raw and real sound. The choice of non-standard, vintage, instruments and recording techniques plus the mono mix reflects a different era of music production that has been brought back to the table with Magic Cactus Records. Co-produced with Shaun Lowe at Prism Recording Studios it is just a small taste of the talent lurking behind both Tom and Magic Cactus Records.
To sum up both this song and Tom as an artist in one word, is a task I would rather not commit to. He is everything from folk to psych to jazz to blues- he does not require categorisation. His words on his genre are finer than my own, ‘The Great Depression on acid'. Trust me, it’s a trip you’ll want to take.
Tom will be performing at The Glebe, Stoke on Friday 5th August for the release of Feeling Bad.