Creative Review New Music
Most people will know Sandi Thom – who next Friday, May 27th, plays Chester Live Rooms – not only for her voice but also for the manner in which she found stardom through the Internet. Her 2006, #1 hit single, I wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair), reached its wider audience largely through a series of webcasts that propelled the singer’s quirky lyrical style up to the zenith of British music.
Not that the song wasn’t good enough to make its mark on its own merit, however; it was later nominated for a Brit Award for Best British Single whilst in the Republic of Ireland, I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker also reached number one and in Australia it did the same for ten consecutive weeks, becoming the country’s biggest selling single of the year.
Ten years on and Sandi Thom is as popular and as much in demand as ever, with five albums to her name, a sixth – Weapons of Past Destruction – on the way and numerous concert appearances at venues large and small across the globe, including The Royal Albert Hall.
Sandi also became a mother for the first time, to Logan, in March of this year, which may have delayed the recording of the album but is nevertheless thrilling for the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts graduate from Banff in Scotland.
“We’re really lucky that Logan’s so calm and contented and alert. He’s also sleeping through the night now, so that’s a relief,” Sandi laughed. “He’s brilliant and such a real character. I’d already decided that I was going to devote most of my time to being a mum when he arrived, so I’ve not really been doing that much recording work lately. I’ve just kept myself here at home looking after him.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not itching to make music and record stuff, though, and I have a little recording studio here at home so I can keep on working while he’s asleep. After a while you sort of fall into a routine, but at the beginning it’s really scary because you don’t really know what’s happening. You do eventually find a way to balance everything though and it’s all good right now. ”
Weapons of Past Destruction is Sandi’s sixth studio album, following on from Smile … It Confuses People, The Pink & the Lily, Merchants and Thieves, Flesh & Blood and The Covers Collection which was released in 2013. This, however, is the first album that she has decided to produce on her own.
“It’s coming along nicely. I was kind of in the middle of making it when I became pregnant so that was kind of interesting, with morning sickness in the middle of takes and what have you. I’m still working on the end and, of course, I’ve now ended up writing another song called Ghosts. That’s the last one though and once that’s done it’ll hopefully be ready for release, possibly around the end this year, the beginning of next.”
On Friday May 27th Sandi plays her first gig in Chester at The Live Rooms, supported by local musicians Eleanor Nelly and Alx Green. It may be her first gig in the city, but Sandi is no stranger to the area. “I have spent a lot of time around there and recorded Smile … It Confuses People in Nantwich in what was basically a barn. I was also a student at LIPA for five years, which was such a great experience. Just being in Liverpool, an amazing city for music, and playing with my own band, that’s the time things really started to happen for me, so it’ll be good to be back in what is my old stomping ground so to speak.”
There are a quite a few similarities between Sandi and Eleanor Nelly, the 16 year old GCSE student from Liverpool, who not only writes and performs her own original material, but also admits to being inspired by Thom herself. “Eleanor has been a fan of mine since she was a little girl and it has been just great to watch her developing and progressing. I always like to try to support local talent, so it’ll be great fun to see her perform in Chester. She works so hard and she’s so full of passion to follow her dream. I see a lot of myself in her because I always knew what I wanted to do as well. It takes a lot of hard work though and a lot of determination, but she certainly has the right attitude to succeed because she is such a good kid.”
Sandi Thom herself has played support for a number of artists including Brian May, Alice Cooper and George Michael. “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to play with some pretty amazing people. I supported George Michael years ago in some massive arenas across Scandinavia, which was such a fantastic experience. On the fourth album I got to work with one of my all time favourite singers Buffy Sainte-Marie, and it is always daunting to meet those peers you have always admired from afar, but it was such a fantastic compliment for me to able to collaborate with somebody like her. You sort of feel humbled by it in a way.
“Playing with Brian May was such a fabulous experience as well, made all the more so by the fact that he’s such a great guy. His charity work and what he does for animals is just amazing, but he’s also such a really great and really generous person too.”
Like all singers, Sandi Thom had to have listened to other artists so as to be able to say ‘that’s what I want to do for a living.’ “Most of Fleetwood Mac’s catalogue would be pretty high up on the list. Lately by Stevie Wonder is such a great song that I wish I had been able to write. A Case of You, by Joni Mitchell is another. But the one I did for The Covers album with Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Big Ones Get Away, is such a powerful song and one my mum used to play to me all the time as a child, is the one that moved me even then as a six year old. That’s the one that I think made me want to sing most.”
So what can an audience expect from a Sandi Thom gig? “It’s exciting for me, particularly as this is my first post-pregnancy gig. I think anybody who has had a baby knows just how exciting it is to get back out there. It isn’t just a typical solo set either, because I not only have the guitar but also a stomp box and a fair amount of harmonica going on as well. So hopefully it will have a lot of energy and a sort of Mumford & Son vibe to it. There will also be a few stories, because apparently I do tend to babble a fair bit about the how’s and whys of my songs. It should be great fun and hopefully very entertaining. I can’t wait, to be honest, just to play live again.”
Sandi Thom will be supported by Eleanor Nelly & Axl Green at Chester Live Rooms on Friday, May 27th. For Tickets: http://www.seetickets.com/event/sandi-thom/the-live-rooms/954046/