Rising Star Tom A. Smith on His Music Career So Far
In the midst of a summer of festivals Living North meets Tom A. Smith, a singer-songwriter from Sunderland who began his career in music aged just eight
A homegrown talent, he’s proud of his roots. ‘Growing up in Sunderland was brilliant for me,’ he continues. ‘My family were always really supportive. I started getting into music when I was around four years old, and then started getting guitar lessons when I was really young. Through primary and secondary school I always made the most of the music lessons and I had a great set of friends around me who are still supportive of me now. My dad was always a huge music fan abut picking up a guitar was the first step for me. I always loved The Smiths, The Cure and Oasis when I was really young and I knew all the words because my dad was always playing it in the house. It was a case of just really enjoying music.
‘The Sunderland music scene – and the North East music scene in general – is really in a good place right now. I used to get music lessons and guitar lessons from Barry Hyde from The Futureheads and he’s a massive inspiration for me and a massive influence – not just my sound but also my performance and how I write my music. He’s been incredibly supportive of me over the years along with Pop Recs in Sunderland. There are some really great venues in the city. Independent is always a great place to perform and I’m looking forward to performing in The Fire Station on the tour.’
Today, Tom’s inspiration is varied. ‘A good song is a good song, so I’ve always liked all sorts of genres but for me, especially with the music I release now, there’s definitely a heavy [The] Cure influence, especially in my song Wolves,’ he adds. ‘There’s a punk element too. My new single Weirdo harks back to my Mackem sound, like The Futureheads – an 80s punk vibe with a modern pop twist. But everything I create is very guitar-based and I suppose alternative rock. I’ve just released my new EP and on there are a couple of singles I released at the start of this year. It’s got a really high-energy vibe to it – heavy live music but still a pop-y element with the hooks and choruses. There’s a Swedish House Mafia cover on it of Don't You Worry Child with an indie twist and also a more intimate and personal laid-back song on there called The Worst Is Still To Come (which I haven’t played live yet but I’m looking forward to getting it into the sets on tour).’
This summer has been a whirlwind for Tom, and now he’s looking forward to his tour later this year. ‘The last year and a half has been totally surreal,’ he admits. ‘I’ve had some amazing moments, including getting to perform at BST Hyde Park with Elton John, Glastonbury for the second year in a row, and I’ve had some amazing TV appearances on Soccer AM, Sunday Brunch and Blue Peter. Getting to work and write with legend Miles Kane after touring with him has definitely been a highlight for me, as well as selling out shows and now announcing a 30-date tour. There’ve been some pretty wild moments!’
His advice for budding singer-songwriters is ‘don’t be disheartened by any negativity and just try and enjoy it’. ‘There’s no point in putting the effort in if you’re not having a good time with it,’ he says. ‘In the competitive, busy world that we live in, it’s important to stick at it and work hard with it. I’m still just starting off and developing and while the last year and a half has been an amazing step forward for us, there’s still plenty more to do! You’ve just got to enjoy it.’
Find our more, listen to his music and buy tickets to Tom’s shows at tomasmithmusic.com.
6th August: Bingley Weekender
19th August: Hardwick Live
8th November: The Fulford Arms, York
9th November: The New Adelphi Club, Hull
11th November: Sidney & Matilda, Sheffield
12th November: Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
7th December: Middlesbrough Empire
8th & 9th December: The Fire Station, Sunderland