|Tom McRae | Newcastle Virgin Megastore | 15/05/03|
Onstage, Tom plays guitar and piano, while the album also features, amongst other things, a cello, so I’m interested in which instruments he can actually play. “I can play a lot of things very badly,” he smiles. “I can play guitar, piano, bass… My piano playing has good days and bad days and by the end of a tour I know what I’m doing, but at the start I’m always panicking!” And the strings? “I’ve got keyboards and samplers and string pads and when I’ve got an idea, I sit down with my cello player and we work things out together. I can’t even read music; I just sing it and, by hook or by crook, we get there!”
So what comes first - the music or the lyrics? "Chaos! Complete chaos!" Tom smiles. "I have a notebook full of ideas, a tape recorder full of little bits of music and somehow they sort of collide over time. I don't really know how it works; I haven't examined it too much."
Some have criticised Tom’s lyrics for their ambiguity, but he explains: “I know what I’m trying to capture in a song, but I don’t like things to be completely explicit. I’ll be a bit pretentious and quote my favourite poet, TS Eliot, who said that to suggest is to create, whereas to describe is to destroy. If I suggest ideas, people who hear the song can put their own images to it.”
How important are Tom's lyrics in comparison to the music?
"I think they're fantastically important but, at the end of the day,
they're not poems that are put to music; they are words that are meant
to accompany the music" he explains. "I can't get into music
if it's got bad words but, conversely, if something's got really overly
thought-out, very intellectual, clever lyrics then that kind of closes
the door on the emotion of it for me. For me, music shouldn't be intellectualised.
It's about really raw experience."
Sincere thanks to the lovely Tom for being such a gentleman. Thanks also to Quinner and to the ever-obliging Mark at Wild. Visit www.TomMcRae.com for more details.
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