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INTERVIEW: Tom Wardle

Hi Tom, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been great, thank you. Enjoying adjusting to life living in New York City after coming from almost a year living in LA previous to that. I’m excited that my record is finally out, as it’s been in the works for a long while.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Jacqueline”?

I’d written it over a period of a few nights whilst living in Hollywood, and I was flat out broke. But I was having a good time and was surrounded by good people. I wanted it to sound like something The Faces would’ve recorded, a really late night feel, not too much production, and I think I really achieved that. The song inspiration was a combination of “The Drugs Don’t Work” by The Verve and “Angie” by The Rolling Stones.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Absolutely. It was written when I was staying out one night. I couldn’t sleep and had this song come into my head. The next morning when I woke up and came outside I looked up, and it turns out I was right beneath the Hollywood sign, up in the Hills. I thought about how my life had changed since moving to the US from Nottingham, England and how surreal it can be – chances and twists of fate. It’s about two people who just come into each other’s lives for a brief moment, and those moments are a turning point.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I would love to. The plan is to do a couple of videos in California come May. One for “Jacqueline” and then another for a new song I’m going to be recording then.

Why naming the record after this song in particular?

Excellent question. When I was completing the EP out in Los Angeles, I initially had four songs recorded, and that was going to be the EP. Then myself and my production partner Scott Bennett (who’s worked with Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson) cut this new song, just the two of us. We kept referring to the project casually as the ‘Jacqueline’ EP as that song just seemed to sum up a certain period in both of

our lives. Anyway, “Jacqueline” was added last minute as the fifth song to the EP, and it seemed to just fit right. Jacqueline is a real character, but the songs on the record are now about her.

How was the recording and writing process?

Very enjoyable on this single. Scott and I literally recorded the whole thing at his house, sitting on his sofa, including the vocals! The only other person who features on the track is guitar whizz Scott McKeon, who plays on the rest of the record. I had a solo in my head that was very reminiscent of a couple of Rod Stewart ballads, and it’s the first time I’ve ever played lead guitar on one of my tracks – so I’m really proud of my little bit there!

What was it like to work with Chris Difford and how did that relationship develop?

Chris has long been one of my songwriting heroes. A few years back, I did a radio interview and got asked who I’d love to work with if I could, and I mentioned him then. Fast forward six months, and I’m living in London and attend a one-day songwriting course hosted by Chris. At the end of the day, he asked us all to play him a song we’d written. I played him Pink Lilies and he said “That needs to be produced and released. It’s fantastic!” He’s a very busy man, but a year later, I ended up going into the studio with him and some brilliant musicians, who I’ve used on previous records, and we did two days there, recording a bulk of what would end up as the EP.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Chris had some great ideas for arrangements and asked if I’d mind him making a few small lyrical changes along the way. Of course not! This guy has written some of my favorite songs.

Our plans initially were to make a little EP that was country/singer-songwriter. Very low key, quick and honest. Chris made some great arrangement suggestions, but sadly, I ran out of money and time, and the project got put on hold, whilst I got my life and visa sorted out and moved over to America. When I came to picking up the record in Los Angeles with Scott (who is also a massive Squeeze fan), we let the songs dictate where they needed to go, and they’ve ended up with both our signatures on there, as we co-produced together.

How have the Beach Boys and Rod Stewart influenced your writing?

Beach Boys records, especially the early ones, have great impact straight away. I suppose that factor of production and economy in songwriting is always at the front of my mind. When making the record, I was always thinking, “Just go big and hit them in the face with it for three minutes!” Thankfully, my co-producer shared my thoughts, and that’s exactly what we did. No room for subtlety on this one! As for Rod, my voice has always been compared to his, as has my nose, and I think he’s really underrated as a lyricist. He’s very honest and open, and often sentimental, and I like that. That was always in my mind when writing the song “Jacqueline.”

What role does the UK play in your music?

Most of favourite singers and bands are from the UK – The Beatles, Faces, Prefab Sprout, The Smiths. There’s a mentality and irony about songwriting that we have, and I like to think it comes through in my songs, as well.

I think largely, though, that the US, and Americans, are more positive in outlook, and that is very much what inspired my move over here. So far, it’s been great and things have been so well received, especially being named as Song You Need To Know by Rolling Stone for “Jacqueline.”

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

They say to write what you know. So, my inspiration has always been the sentimentally of relationships. Past loves. The ones you regret losing. The things you’d do differently now you’re older. I think all five tracks are about different aspects of relationships I’ve had. The next batch of songs I have are about my experiences of living in the US, as it’s been an adventure worthy of a movie so far! Many twists and coincidences. I spend a bit of time in the Caribbean, as well, and that influence seeped through on “I Know What She Needs,” which is some killer white reggae – really different for me, too, but it works.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ve spent the last two summers performing all over the Hamptons and absolutely loved it, so I’m planning on being there again this summer, along with gigs in New York City and Nashville. I would love to tour, so if the opportunity arises, I’ll be on that plane with my guitar like a shot!

What else is happening next in Tom Wardle’s world?

Now the record is finally out (it had been a long time in the works), I am gearing up to record the next one before the summer and keep the momentum up. Each record is a learning curve, and I’m excited to make something new.

Listen to Wardle’s Jacqueline EP now on Spotify.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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