We were lucky enough to catch up with Tom from the Brighton-based band The Rapports following the release of the superb single ‘Dreamer’. Read now!
Tell us about yourself?
Most proudly, I’m a single daddy of my beautiful four-year-old Son named Bowie. I worked as a set and costume designer for theatre, opera, musicals and events before covid wiped out the industry (hoping this will rise from the ashes soon).
I am also a member of a coop for an organic, ethical food wholesaler. Music, writing, and the arts have always been central to my life. The first song I learnt on the bass was ‘Down in the tube station at midnight’ by The Jam.
I was 13 when I joined my first band called Napalm; we won the school talent show. The last song I learnt on guitar was English Rose by Weller .
What is your songwriting process?
I write wherever I can though my most comfortable writing process nowadays is within the rehearsal room. Free-styling with the full band, ad-libbing my way through. This automatism gives me access to areas and delves into issues I can’t go through other ways.
Sometimes a melody will come to me when I’m out and about, and I will sing it into my phone and then take that to practice for Chris our guitarist to turn into chords. Then we all chisel away at it until we have a polished piece. I always write at home too so if anything suitable for Rapports pops up I will bring with me to the next practice.
We all chip in with ideas, and I work like a composer pulling and refining it into our sound. I record every practice and will go through the sessions chopping up any relevant parts. I then send these out to the rest of the band to work on and also work on them myself.
Tell us about your latest release ‘Dreamer’?
‘Dreamer’ was written in the midst of a turbulent breakup. For me, it’s about clinging onto hope, a hope that shouldn’t be there. The point when a relationship has well and truly ended, but you’re still trying to keep it going.
It’s the realisation you are just kidding yourself and are coming to terms with that. I try and write positive, uplifting music, although a lot of my songs subject matter comes from darker experiences. I like this juxtaposition.
What’s the music scene like in Brighton?
The music scene in Brighton is broad and bustling. You can see a different band every night of the week every day of the year. Unfortunately, over the last eight years, we have seen a slow and steady loss of venues due to noise complaints.
Colm, (our original drummer) and I ran a monthly indie night named ‘Keeping Schtum’ to support unsigned local music. Our ethos was free, loud and boozy. We would put all our earnings into drink and have endless beer for bands, partners, and entourage. Some fantastic hazy nights were forged here. You can get everything you want in Brighton.
Your music is in the ’90s and ’00s Brit Pop genre, what draws you to this genre?
The swagger of the ’90s was rock n roll with Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, The Verve and space guiding the way. The grit of the early naughties was sexy and for me the epitome of cool, with The Libertines, Maximo Park, The Walkman, The Stokes, LCD Soundsystem, Kings of Leon.
This was the music of my childhood and teens. This was the music teaching me how to play my guitar—inspiring me to write. I have and will always have an affinity to this period.
You have played at the Great Escape Festival, what was that like?
We have played a number of venues over a number of years during The Great Escape; the highlights were racus nights at the infamous Mash Tun, people standing on tables and rooms so packed and loud you struggle to breathe. The Mesmerist, The Hare and Hounds, The Monty, so many great memories. The city is alive and buzzing. It pulsates with positivity and fuzzing guitars. Every venue has someone performing. There are pop up locations all over the place.
It’s truly my favourite and proudest time to be a Brightonian. If you haven’t been and love live music, then I would urge you to go. There is enough free music to keep you going over the three days, and Early bird tickets are like 60 quid for the whole weekend if you want the full experience. Bargain.
You’ve worked with legend engineers Andrew Lyden (John Martyn, Bob Marley, Buzzcocks, U2) and Sie Medway-Smith (Depeche Mode, Rita Ora, Björk, Massive Attack), what were those experiences like?
They are both beautiful well-informed, creative intellectuals with fascinating tales. We have become good friends with them and hope to work with them again. They are both engineers and producers. Andy worked with Island records during the ’70s-’80s and had his hand to many of my favourite albums, so his knowledge and experience is obviously awe-inspiring. I try to listen hard to their advice and soak up as much as I can. They both have distinctly different approaches, methods and outlooks, and we welcome both.
Who are your non-musical influences?
I love the post-war expressionist painters, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach. Sculptor, The Young British Artists, heavily inspired me during my teens and led me to study sculpture for my BA.
Theatre Designers that have taught and inspired me over the years are Liz Ashcroft, Lez Brotherson, Tom Pye. They are all true masters of their game.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
Obviously, Covid has f*cked all of us in many different ways; the music industry has taken a large hit. Venues have taken a huge hit, and the domino effect from that ripples far and wide. I’m worried for anyone in the creative industry, the self-employed, the struggling artist is going to have to struggle a hell of a lot more, unfortunately.
I hope venues can get back on their feet, and the government can continue to support them, so we actually have places to perform when we get through this horrific situation.
What advice would you give to other bands/artists starting out?
I’m not really in any position to offer advice. I do it for the love of music, for the love of writing and for the love of expression. We as a band have been incredibly lucky, we played hard and worked hard, and still, there is so much more to do. I would say keep regular attainable targets. Keep pushing and working towards a new goal. Most of all, stay true to yourself and your passion for music and embrace everything that comes your way.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
We release our album next year (c19 permitting). We have a few singles due out first. We are currently working on music videos now. We have a European tour being drawn up for summertime, so I hope this is possible.
I hope our music is received far and wide over the next year and that we can continue writing for the next album. I hope people connect to our music and support us to in watching us live when it’s safe to do so.
FVMusicBlog January 2021
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