Thomas McConnell Interview by Roisin Kelleher
Thomas McConnell started life in Liverpool but grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, keeping the musical legacy of his birthplace with him in the upheaval further north. His songs are largely informed by the work of his heroes, in particular Paul McCartney & Eric Morecambe, and draw on a troubled six-year period of his life. He’s just released his new single which you can pick up for free / stream via the widget below.
Louder Than War’s Roisin Kelleher recently shot off some questions to Thomas. These, and his answers, are below.
First off, how’s it going?
I’m good. I just bought a guitar neck which I’m going to attempt to build a guitar with…
What are your major plans for 2013? Made any New Year’s resolutions?
I didn’t really make any resolutions but I suppose it’d be to build my name as much as I can and play bigger and better gigs.
What are the main things that inspire you musically?
Beatles songs mostly. No matter how small the thing I pick up on is, it can develop into something for me. Whether it’s one tiny chord or rhythm change or the whole feel of a track, it can inspire me. Also things outside music inspire me. A lot of comedians inspire me because of the pace and structure of their work.
How important is image to you when it comes to promoting your music?
Very. I love the look of certain people and I try to have a look and image even at my small scale.
What made you get into music?
I got into The Beatles through Ringo’s narration on Thomas The Tank Engine and that was me off, so I always knew I’d play guitar because my Dad wanted me to do guitar lessons since before I can remember. My school didn’t start guitar lessons until you were 7 years old so I had a few years waiting.
What are your earliest musical memories?
I remember hearing Hello Goodbye in the car when I was really really little and I used to dance to people talking on the TV when I was about 3.
I gather you’re a pretty big Beatles/60s fan. Why do you think they hold such an enduring appeal for young artists today?
How did you know I like The Beatles? Well, because their songs are better than everyone else’s. There aren’t really any inspiring mainstream artists for people my age so, if we’re going to look at other music periods for inspiration who better to look at than the best band ever?
Besides those, who inspires you musically?
Loads of people do. Oasis, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Squeeze, The Rolling Stones, Eric Morecambe…
Which bands/artists do you think are really going to take off in 2013?
Jake Bugg looks as if he’s doing really well so I’d imagine he’d go even bigger places this year. I hope some of the artists I know in Liverpool do too.
What do you think the key to success in today’s industry is? How do you think success is defined?
Whether you’re willing to go on the X factor or not significantly determines your path to success. If you’re not willing to do that then I guess the key is absolutely masses of gigs, self promotion and the luck of who you know and get to know. I’d say success is defined by how many people want to hear, remember, hear more of and buy your stuff. I’d like to say the whole “if you make one person happy then it’s all worthwhile” thing but I don’t really believe it. I’d say it’s more successful to make a million people happy.
How do you think social media makes promoting yourself easier? Or does it make it harder?
It’d be easier if everyone who is trying to promote something wasn’t doing so via social media but it’s definitely an essential tool for promotion nowadays. It’s definitely made it a lot easier for me to get gigs and spread the word about my tunes but you have to appear genuine and not accidentally spam people which can be difficult to balance.
If you could save three things from a house fire what would they be, assuming any other people inside are safe?
Photos, my laptop because it’s full of my recordings and as much of my Beatles collection as possible.