After five years as a band, encompassing five EPs and two albums, Kent-based six-piece Tom Williams & the Boat might appear fully-formed but, with the release of their second album, ‘Teenage Blood’, they’re only just beginning to reveal their true colours.
Having made a name for themselves with early releases on independent UNLABEL and more recently, on their own label Wire Boat Records, the band’s profile has built steadily through this home-grown hard graft approach.
The vocal support of BBC Introducing’s Huw Stephens at this early stage lead to appearances at Latitude Festival, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, multiple slots at Glastonbury Festival as a result of its Emerging Talent Competition and a BBC Maida Vale Studio session, where they met their current producer Simon Askew.
Tom Williams & The Boat have created an album that cements their roots and embraces a new chapter in the band’s history. The independent release – ‘Teenage Blood’ is a co-release between Moshi Moshi and Wire Boat Records, funded entirely by their fans through Pledge Music – and its interaction with fans as well as Tom’s intuitive storytelling reflect what’s come to be expected of the band. But in a new-found love of classic pop structures and dark, heartbreaking narrative styles, there’s something entirely different about the album’s approach.
‘Teenage Blood’ is made up of ten tracks that Tom says reflect a new sense of focus for the band. After becoming obsessed with the idols of pop-rock’s history, such as Tom Petty, Teenage Fanclub, The Band and Loaded-era Velvet Underground, Tom decided to write songs that take the traditional song structures of that genre – repeated choruses, catchy hooks – and fill them with a subversive lyricism, touched upon in the debut release.
The result is a tight, narrative set of tracks that don’t so much form a concept as a series showing the progression of doomed love affairs – moving from youthful naïveté in ‘Too Young’ into ‘There’s A Stranger’s gut-punch realisation of the death of a romance (‘the best song I’ve ever written’, says Tom) and finally the ‘rolling credits’ of ‘Emily’, a depiction of the (re)birth of a new relationship. Teenage Blood’s consistent focus and narrative drive make for a more cohesive album than Too Slow; a mixture of the black and white polarity of their debut that explores new, captivating shades of grey – the spaces in between pop and alternative music, love and hate.
Tom Williams & The Boat’s spirit of independence, individuality and hard work drew celebrated indie label Moshi Moshi to the band. After seeing both their style of releasing and their constant interaction with their fans through social media sites, the label expressed an interest in not only releasing their second album, but in letting the band keep their sense of identity. Having worked with Summer Camp to release their debut through fan funding website PledgeMusic.com, Moshi Moshi saw an ideal opportunity to release The Boat’s second album whilst retaining the band’s personal touch. This has taken the form of a number of incentives offered for pledges towards the album’s creation, ranging from white label vinyl test pressings and unreleased demos to music lessons or even a painting by Tom (who has just completed a degree in Fine Art at Oxford). A portion of the money raised will be donated to the Kent Air Ambulance charity, an organisation particularly close to Tom’s heart and further validation of their independent standpoint.
Watch the video for lead track ‘Teenage Blood’ at http://youtu.be/uAFXlE41b2I released as a single on April 9th.
1. Teenage Blood
2. Too Young
3. Little Bit In Me
4. Trouble With The Truth
5. My Bones
6. Neckbrace (Big Wave)
7. Like You
8. There’s A Stranger
9. Summer Drive