Interview with Teddy Thompson
Ahead of his appearance at The Out To Lunch
FT: The last time you played in Belfast it was with Kelly Jones touring the excellent ‘Little Windows’ album. What can the Out To Lunch Festival crowd expect this time round?
TT: I’ve constructed a papier maché Kelly to stand next to me on stage. “She” is rigged up with a tape cassette that plays her parts and a simple pulley system controlled with a foot pedal-opens and closes her mouth. I think the folks will really dig it.
FT: Your love of 50s music, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and for country music is well known, which might surprise a lot of people given the folk dynasty you’re from. How so?
TT: My folk musician parents are to blame (for a lot of things actually, but I digress…) They played all that American rock’n’roll music around the house and in the car. I just loved it straight away. And,
TT: New York. I’ve lived here almost 20 years. London is still where the heart is though. My soul I consider to be Scottish.
FT: You once said, “None of the people I like and listen to are trying to compete with pop music, what we do have to offer is that we can play and sing and we can do it live. What’s really important is that the songs are good” Is that how you still see the music business today?
TT: Well, good songs are important to me. I am in the minority but I think it’s a cause worth fighting for. Pop music is pop music, its entertainment. It’s formulaic and most of it is pretty terrible, but I don’t live in that world. I try to make something decent with some craft and be as honest as possible.
FT: In ‘The One I Can’t Have’ (from ‘Bella’), you sing: “Given choices A and B I’ll probably go with option C”. You have always
TT: Not really. If anything, I think I compromised too much. I never fit into a category easily so record labels were always trying to push it into one box or another. I was happy to get pushed! I went along with it to try to have some success and a career. None of it worked too well though so perhaps I should’ve told them where to shove their boxes.
FT: The 2014 album ‘Family’. Working with various members of the Thompson household with yourself at the helm. Uncut referred to it as ‘dysfunctional, but somehow comforting’. It received exceptional reviews in quarters. How did you find the process itself, with you in charge of the family?
TT: It was an interesting process. I liked the idea of corralling the family into a cohesive unit and having it all come together with a bow on it. That of course didn’t happen. It was hard. It was a bit messy but it was rewarding. It’s family innit?
FT: Do you think there might be a “Family 2”?
TT: If another family member wants to take the helm, sure!
FT: So what’s next for Teddy Thompson? When can we expect a new album?
TT: The next album is finished. I hope to have it out in the summer. I never know what to say about my own records. I think it sounds poppy and, dare I say soul. I mean, there’s some Stax style horns on there. I never think I sound very country, but people tell me I do, so who knows?
FT: Thanks for taking the time to talk to Folk and Tumble!
Teddy Thompson plays The Black Box, Belfast with support from Dori Freeman on Friday 25th January 2019. Tickets available