Thomas McConnell is a musician from Liverpool, but later he moved to and grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, keeping the musical legacy of his birthplace with him in the upheaval further north. Earlier this week we talked to him, and here’s what he had to say.
Previous Magazine: What was your favourite band or artist growing up? How have they had an influence on you and your music?
Thomas McConnell: The Beatles. They’re more than just a band to me as my life revolves around them. Any decisions I make about things (that aren’t just to do with music) are measured against them as an example. Their music has heavily influenced mine because they’re the best music teachers you could ever wish to have…
PM: Since you started composing music at a very young age, do you plan on pursuing a career in music for the rest of your life?
TM: I definitely plan to yeah. It’s what I need to do to be happy so I’ll be doing this forever. There’s no point spending time making backup plans because you end up spending more time making the backup than doing what you actually intend to do.
PM: Of all of the songs you have released so far, which of them means the most to you?
TM: They all mean the most to me in different ways. I have ones with a very blatant subject or message so they mean a lot because of what they’re saying, but then I have ones where I’ve focused mainly on the melody and chords more than an obvious subject, so the sound means a lot to me. I’d say my favourite song of my own would possibly be “Play In The Dark” just because I like the chords and melody.
PM: What are a majority of your songs about? Do you write your songs based on personal experiences or do you just write whatever comes to mind?
TM: My songs are mostly informed by experiences that happened to me between 2004 – 2011, those years were hard for me and I do spend a lot of time thinking about that period of my life so a lot of songs come from that. I do occasionally like to write in an “I Am The Walrus” nonsense style but they still mean something in an encrypted way.
PM: Do you have any songs that you have already written and recorded but have not released yet? If so, do you ever plan on releasing them?
TM: Oh yeah, there are a great many songs that no one’s heard yet but I do plan to release them all somewhere down the line… it’s difficult sometimes having so many songs backed up because I want to be able to work on new tunes but not forget about old ones. I’ll have to stagger the release of the old tunes so there’s still space for new material. You never know, it might be 50 years before anyone hears some of the first tunes I ever wrote.
PM: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming releases or tours?
TM: I released a single on Bandcamp in October last year and have EPs ready to sell online that I got printed up for when I supported China Crisis on their UK tour. I’m also demoing an album that I’d love to be able to release but I’m not really in a position to yet… and hopefully more support slots are going to come up soon.
PM: Your songs are great. Are you planning on releasing a music video for any of them any time soon?
TM: Thanks very much. Yes, one is being planned at the moment that’ll hopefully be finished at some point in February. The style of the video was originally going to be like “Can’t Buy Me Love” – running around a field in a silly cartoon Beatles way – but there are already a million videos like that so now I’m thinking it will be inspired by David Bowie’s “Heroes” promo film.
PM: How do you promote your songs and upcoming gigs?
TM: At the moment, completely using social media. I’m not a fan of social networking but unfortunately, it’s absolutely essential for booking gigs and promotion. I’m starting to figure out how to work social sites to my advantage so I use Facebook and SoundCloud mostly and I’m starting to get to grips with Twitter and when the video is up on YouTube, I’ll push that. Believe me though, if I weren’t a musician, I wouldn’t even have a Facebook account.
PM: Could you describe your music making process?
TM: I don’t try to force writing songs but when I write one, I try to finish it in one session. There are some songs that come out of two or more ideas that I’ve stuck together but were composed years apart. While I’m writing, I do a couple of recordings on my phone as I’m going along and then a complete performance of it on my phone when it’s complete. Then I get around to recording a demo in my room with all the instruments required.
PM: If you could go on tour with any band or artist, who would it be and why?
TM: Paul McCartney, because he’s my all-time hero and biggest inspiration. I’d definitely learn a lot going on tour with him. The venues and crowds would almost certainly be amazing.
PM: Where do you see you and your music in five years?
TM: Hopefully, as an established artist with a strong fan-base and popular material that leaves people wanting more. I wouldn’t want to be a one hit wonder. There are too many artists now who only last one album and I don’t want that to be me. I want longevity.
PM: How is writing the music for you? How does it happen?
TM: I go through big phases without writing anything at all and then have short bursts where I do loads. I’d rather it was more spread out and consistent because I get frustrated when I don’t do any for ages. I’ve come to accept though that you can’t force these things, so a song will come when it comes and when they come naturally, they’re almost always better.
PM: You can have any 3-course meal that you want. What would the starter, main, dessert and drink be?
TM: The starter would be this amazing onion soup I had in Paris once. The best soup I’ve ever had. It had cheese on toast in it! The main meal would be a Spanish omelette or tortilla – basically, potato and egg cake. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so I’d probably just want more of that soup and I’ll have that as my drink too. It really was that good…
PM: It has been great talking to you, my friend. Anything you’d like to squeeze in?
TM: Thanks very much for interviewing me. I’d just like to say that people can check out my songs on SoundCloud, can like my Facebook page and can follow my Twitter. They can also subscribe to my YouTube and if they like what they see, they can buy my single.