We first covered Tom Bright all the way back in 2014, but with his band The Dynamite on the cusp of releasing their debut, Schoolyard Crimes, we caught up with the Derbyshire-raised Londoner for a chat over a couple of pints in a noisy London basement pub.
Hi Tom, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I was doing some Googling about you in preparation for this interview and-
You didn’t find anything, right?
No, nothing incriminating, but one thing that did pique my interest was that I thought you were a solo act up until recently when you formed The Dynamite – we certainly covered you as a solo act in 2014 – but then I found someone talking about you as Tom Bright and the Dynamite back in 2013?
Ages ago. It was just me on my own. When I moved to London I came up with that name, and everyone was like “who’s the Dynamite?” and there was no band. And then I spent years trying to carve out a name and develop – and decided that it made more sense to be Tom Bright as I was on my own. And now it’s the other way around.
The guys that are in the Dynamite now, did you know them back in 2012/13?
No, I met them as Tom Bright. When I met Jared (Jared Rood) I was working as a waiter in a place called The English Restaurant at Spitalfields Market and he was working behind the bar at a pub called The Gun, which has been knocked down for the Chicago businessmen to continue their iron work on Spitalfields market…
So you were propping up the bar?
I was running an acoustic night in a room there upstairs, and Jared came around doing some glass collecting and we got chatting. He said he played guitar and I said let’s get together and have a jam – I was looking to get a band together at the time. It turns out we’ve become really good mates and we’ve got great chemistry.
And how did you meet your drummer?
I had Jared in place, and then with Fred (Fred Clarridge) it was just putting an ad on Facebook – “Music mates – does anyone know a drummer who is half decent” and Fred got in touch. And I’m so reliant on him, he’s so fucking good, he’s so talented. And then with Freddie (Freddie Draper), who plays bass, he’s a friend of a friend kinda vibe.
The Dynamite really, it’s not fixed per se – it’s everyone who played on the album as well – Gary, Mick, and everybody.
So, how long have you guys been playing together as a band – writing, gigging, etc?
It’s been a full band for couple of years now. Everything is written on an acoustic guitar, but don’t get me wrong – everyone has really valuable contributions.
What’s your process, do you write the tune and then the lyrics come?
Every tune is a different formula, but I’ve got so many fucking words everywhere.
Have you gone through a phase, where you felt the words were cheesy, or wrong, or something like that – how did you get through that barrier?
Just always writing – I try to write two or three songs a week. I’ve written loads of shit, but now I think I’m on the verge of writing some really good stuff! I’m starting to collate a bit of stuff now, a Tom Bright catalogue of sorts.
When I was finding my feet – there was a song or two that I had written but ended up not totally enjoying them. I always like to live with things for a bit, so if a song loses a bit of something a few weeks down the line then you know it’s not quite right.
How do you originally get stuff down if its a constant process? Do you use GarageBand?
As an example – I’ll be having a drink with my girlfriend on a Saturday night, and not listening – instead I’ll be writing songs in my head. I’ll tell her I need to step away for a few minutes and I’ll start recording on my phone using Voice Recorder. Or if I’m at home, I’ll open GarageBand. I just want to get it down so I don’t forget, and then get it onto Logic later.
So, Logic is the tool of choice?
Yeah, it does the job on a Mac.
Have you played all the new album live now, played it to a crowd?
There’s a couple on there we’ve not played live. There’s a song called ‘My Church’, which we’ve not played live – we’re just trying to work out how the fuck we’re gonna do it!
I wrote it on a cigar-box guitar, which was tuned – I don’t even remember how it was fucking tuned. I wrote this riff to start with – I got the tune down, demoed it out in my room on GarageBand – made this weird demo. I took it into the studio with the boys and gradually we got it down. Most of the album, we do it live and then we build on that, but that one it has been quite a tough process as it’s quite a technical tune. It’s really leftfield – very interesting.
And after all that work, is it one you’re most excited about?
It’s very different, pretty mad – I’ll play it to you in a bit (editor’s note – he did and it was great – look for it on the album).
Do you think it’s easier for bands to stay independent today?
There’s so many pros and cons. Anyone can listen to great music all the time, find new artists all the time, but they need to sort out the payment system. You’re gonna get 10 million streams for being a couple of grand up. If you love a band you should buy the record and see them live. Go to gigs and buy records.
But as an artist you’ve just got to go with the times and deal with it – no point in moaning. Times do change. I think it will come back round a little bit maybe, but I’m not anti-Spotify – I’m not Taylor Swift. Also, I’m not in a position I guess, I want people to find me and Spotify helps with that.
Your original press materials said you were releasing 10 singles this year?!
Well, ignore that! It was my idea to do so, but I realise that was a bit mental…it’s too much. Really, there’s now going to be five and then the album. To be honest I was thinking like – Schoolyard Crimes would come out and then all of a sudden we’d drop another one, but actually I don’t think it would work – songs would slip under the radar, possibly one of our favourites.
Do you manage to find time to switch of at the weekend?
Not this year so far, and it has maybe had an adverse effect on people around me, but I’m not feeling burnt out – I’m feeling energised. You know, I’m 30 this year and I want this to be the start – you’ve got to really put the work in. A little bit of luck and a shit-tonne of hard work, and you know…
And is the album all recorded and mixed – done and dusted?
All done. Everything is done. I mean I’ve pretty much written my second album, so I’m starting to record that too.
Is it made up of tracks from the last five years, or are they all new since you formed the band?
All these tunes are since I’ve got the boys together – I couple of years ago now. The first one would have been written two years ago, pretty much got into the studio and got it down. We recorded about a track a day in the studio. We recorded it all at Mick Jones’ studio. It was Dirty White and Mick Jones producing it.
You say you’ve already got material for the second album, have you started recording that?
I’ve started demoing it.
You’ve not even released the first single from the first album yet!
I’ve got to think ahead, you know?
So, when is the first performance of the album?
We’re about to announce some shows (editor’s note – we’ll keep you posted on this when Tom tell’s us)
Talking of live performances – when I saw you perform at Live from Salon Noir at L’Escargot the other night, you had your band-mate, Jared, get on stage and perform some spoken word. Is there some spoken word on the album?
TB: There isn’t, but we are recording Jared’s own spoken word album and writing a children’s poetry book. I think he’s got about 25 poems, and me and Fred the drummer are taking it in turn on the production. And they’ve all got music around them – me and Fred are doing the music – it’s really cool! It’s great having that going on with it all – I’d like to have him open up at gigs with it.
It’s all up in the air – it’s all getting developed and written – it’s going to be great!
I think that’s all I have to ask you tonight. Is there anything else you would like to plug? Anything else you want to talk about?
Just the single comes out on 23rd Feb (editor’s note – that’s today)