Tom Walker dishes on his Mancunian roots, Glasto and surviving London

Tom Walker’s debut EP, Blessings, sounds kind of like a mix between Bob Marley and Sam Smith, if that makes any sense. The up-and-comer talked to FAULT about being from Manchester, playing at Glastonbury, and how to have a good time when your London rent makes it so you can’t afford to go out.

FAULT: What’s your origin story? How did you become a musician?

Tom: I learned to play guitar when I was kind of 9 years old. I’ve been playing since then. I’ve always loved it, and I’ve always loved writing songs. I lived in Manchester, so I was always a big fan of Oasis. I got into songwriting through them and various other bands. I one day kind of had a crack at it, and I thought Yeah, I’m not too bad at this. It developed from there. It turned from a hobby to a career quite quickly. I went to do a degree in songwriting at the London Centre of Contemporary Music, and then eventually fell into the music industry. So it’s been a long but good road.

FAULT: Who influences your music besides Oasis?

Tom: Oh, so many people. I’m a big fan of Paulo Nutini. I know it’s a massive cliche, but I love Bob Marley as well. I was really into Jack Garratt last year. Chet Faker is also a big influence. Ray Charles I used to listen to a lot when I was younger. Too many to list, basically.

FAULT: What are the lyrics to “Blessings” about?

Tom: They’re kind of a true story. I live with a lot of people in London — seven people in a big house. We don’t always have a lot of money, because London’s a really expensive place to live. But we always make the most of whatever we’re doing. Even if we don’t have enough money to go out to the pub, we end up bringing the pub to us and inviting a few people around and having a good night at home, which I don’t think a lot of people do. I think a lot of people don’t spend the time counting their blessings. I think they spend the time pointing out the things in their lives that are unfortunate. But even if we’re stuck at home, we’re having a good time. I think that’s the nice thing about me and my mates, so I wanted to make a song about it.

FAULT: When you’re “busy playing FIFA,” what team are you?

Tom: Man United, always Man United. Or the one that’s called, like, Classic XI, which is all amazing players. But definitely Man U.

FAULT: Did you feel any kind of personal connection to the Manchester Arena bombing?

Tom: Yeah, it was really bad. I grew up near Manchester, and the MEN Arena was the place I went to see all the big bands. I’ve seen Foo Fighters, Muse, Underworld, and loads of big bands there. So it was quite upsetting to see, and it was quite upsetting to think that a group of people would want to put young people off going to see live music at a venue. Without going to see my favourite bands doing their thing at the Manchester Evening News Arena, I don’t think I’d be where I am today, because that was one of the massive influences on why I wanted to do what I wanted to do. So it was pretty difficult.

FAULT: You were just at Glastonbury, right? How was that?

Tom: It was amazing! I was originally going there just as a fan, to watch some bands. But after I bought a ticket, I found out I was playing at a set at The Rabbit Hole. And after that I found out I was also doing a set for BBC2. So I did a set at The Rabbit Hole on Friday, which was totally amazing; I can’t believe how many people turned up. Then on Saturday–I think it was about 20 minutes past midnight–I was on the telly. So it was a pretty surreal experience.

And all that time, because I bought a ticket, I felt like I had to get involved with the festival, so I was staying up until 5 a.m. every night with my mates, as well as working. It was pretty intense. I’m glad to be back home. I had some intense, long meetings today, but after that, I’m gonna have an epic sleep.

FAULT: What are your plans for the next year or so?

Tom: We’ve got a fun, little song coming out soon that we’re working on at the moment. I can’t really talk much about it. In the meantime, I’m working on the album. We’ve got a group of people I like to write with, and I’m gonna do some writing on my own. No rush, because I want to get it right. I want to make sure it’s a quality piece of work, something I’m really proud of. I’m gonna make sure it’s right before we put it out.

I’ve got a few festivals coming up. I’m doing Barn on the Farm; I’m doing Beat-Herder; I’m doing Victorious Festival. And we’ve got a gig coming up at Oslo in London in September.

FAULT: What’s your FAULT?

Tom: I love sleep – It’s not ideal when you have a call time at 7am and all I want to do is sleep through day so I have to load up on Coffee. I also have really long days sometimes and will find myself nodding off randomly. When I get back from tour I’ll shut the world out and sleep for something stupid for like 16 hours straight and that sorts me right out then I’m ready to go again!
Peep Tom’s video for Blessings, and the audio for Heartland, below: