BEST THING ABOUT THE U.K.
The people. More specific than that, though, the humor. As soon as we began seeing how exotic and incredible other parts of the world are, it became easy to come to the conclusion [that] the U.K. is just doom and gloom. But coming home from a long tour away, it’s British humor that makes this place so special to live in and return to. To be able to mercilessly take the piss to those closest to you is a gift that I believe offsets where our climate fails us.
LAST PIECE OF MUSIC THAT MOVED YOU TO TEARS.
I was lucky enough to perform a version of “All We Have Is Now,” the last track from our new record, live at Abbey Road with a 20-piece string section. Unlike any song we have in our catalog, it’s just me and a piano.
Because of COVID restrictions, the string players had to be socially distanced, meaning they were playing in a circle all the way around me. Hearing such an emotive score, playing the piano that the Beatles wrote and recorded so many songs on in that exact room [Studio Two] was powerful enough, not to mention the song itself is incredibly personal. So much so I actually didn’t want anyone to hear it. I wrote it for myself and had no intention of sharing it with anyone until Ben Thatcher, my partner in crime, convinced me to. The odds were stacked against me. The tears came knocking at my eyelids’ doors. Guilty.
SONG YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN.
“Grace” by Jeff Buckley. One of the only songs I can play on guitar. Once upon a time, I would neck shit beer in my local pub in Worthing and pluck up the courage to attempt this song at open mic nights.
It’s laced with Zeppelin influences. The chord changes are so majestic, and the vocal melodies are so trippy and hypnotic. Jeff Buckley had it all in my view. He could sing like an angel, scream like the devil and switch from one to the other in the middle of singing the same note. His guitar playing was like no other. A true genius.
YOUR DREAM TOUR PACKAGE.
We’ve been lucky enough to tour with Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters and Pixies. I think the only band left on the dream list is Led Zeppelin. Ultimately, the payoff would be being able to witness the greatest band of all time perform every night.
LAST GOOD PIECE OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED.
Be in your favorite band. Joshua Homme is a hero of mine, and [I’m] proud to say a friend now, too. We were lucky enough to work together on a track called “Boilermaker” for our album. He produced this track. He really encouraged me to step up and take ownership of our band and our sound during a time [when] I was second-guessing myself. I’ve always loved what I do, but those words of advice were greatly needed, and it was a great reminder.
SONG THAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A MUSICIAN.
“Penny Lane” [by the Beatles]. This is the first song I have any memory of hearing. I must have been 6 years old. It was like discovering I could fly. I began an obsession with music and songwriting that still hasn’t left me.
MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT WRITING AN ALBUM.
For me, it’s shutting out the world. So many times I found I can get in my own head or get in my own way. The struggle when there is one is returning to the feeling that made me play and create in the first place. It’s a state I found incredibly easy to find during the pandemic.
FAVORITE SOUND THAT ISN’T MUSIC-RELATED.
The sound of a tablespoon tapping the bottom of a mixing bowl filled with cake batter. It’s a deep thud that nothing else can replicate.
ACTOR WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A BIOPIC.
Dave Franco. Not only is he brilliant, but it’s important to give yourself an upgrade if you’re going to make a movie about yourself. Maybe actually you should go the other way ’round to make yourself look better?
WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT BEFORE GOING TO BED.
I usually drift off to sleep full of dread about the pain I will experience swimming in the cold waters of Brighton first thing in the morning.
This 10 Topics interview appeared in issue 393, available here.