Lewis Watson

Singer song writer Lewis Watson is on tour hitting Adelaide on Wednesday for the very first time. Drawing comparisons to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver it promises to a great night taking in all the new songs from his second album Midnight. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Lewis Watson about the tour and his love of Farmers Union Ice Coffee.

Great news that you’re touring Australia but incredibly sad with everything that is unfolding in the UK?
It’s tough, I was in America at the airport when the first reports starting coming through and I got on the plane for seven and a half hours and I was terrified to read the news. It is something that is horrible and such a shame to have had to happen. It is great to see how everyone is pulling together now and of course it is terrible for a real catastrophe to have to happen for this to happen. It is great to see how much love there is in the UK. I think that is something that will always out do the hate that causes this. It is pretty raw at the moment and to hear of children being maimed and amongst the dead is awful but I think we can only get stronger from this and move forward this hoping that it never happens again.

Do you think that might inspire a lot of new songs to help through these difficult moments?
Yeah, I think that’s the thing that hurts the most. For me music is an escape and its safety and it’s love and that has really affected me. Those kids and those parents who were having a night in a place that was a safe haven and were there to enjoy themselves. The attack on that culture is something that will only cause people to unite and you look in the past you see all these great changes have come after horrible things that have happened. Like I said it is a shame for that to have to happen to cause this united front and hopefully a generation of songs that will inspire change is something that unfortunately has to happen after something like this.

You must be pretty excited about this tour and that with every visit it continues to get bigger?
I’m really going to love Australia and I’ve been there three times in the last four years. My sister lives in Perth now which is another excuse for me to get over as often as possible. It is a beautiful place and it is so similar to home. It is like a warmer, cleaner, nicer England to me and I love England! Whenever I come over I’ll certainly take the opportunity and come. I love playing shows over there, Australians and the Irish are kind of born with a musical bone in their body and I think whatever chord progression you do everyone has a common ground of loving music. When I play a gig to these people it is such a fulfilling feeling to me just being able to look out to the crowd and see people sing a long, dancing and really enjoying themselves is a dream.

Seeing people sing your songs back to you must be a huge buzz?
It is unreal and wherever that happens is such a great feeling but to be on the other side of the world, so far removed from my bedroom where I wrote these songs is something that I can’t get my head around. The fact that it is so universal and fortunately we live in a day and age where everything is so instant and so global it has given has really given me the opportunity to go to Australia.

Have you been happy by the fan reaction to Midnight?
I love this record and is something I really wanted people to like but understood that is was so different and much more mature sound I certainly accepted the fact that people may not enjoy the album. With that it was a very anxious time for me because I did not know what people would think and as I said I really wanted people to enjoy this record but at the same time wanted it to be an evolution of the first album. I had to come to terms with it, maybe they’re quite exclusive from each other because people have learnt to expect a certain sound from me. Maybe they only wanted to hear an acoustic guitar and my voice.

Do you feel the pressure with the second album blues?
It was definitely in the back of my mind and in the front of my mind for a long time but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I think it is something that is natural and I just embrace that and really try to make the best record I could. All of these songs were written the old way with just me and the guitar. I was confident that if a song works as its skeleton, when it is really stripped back,  you’re really able to add whatever you want to it and it can only get stronger. In my head that’s what I had to keep telling myself. These are good songs, from the demos I’m very happy with these so they can only ever get better with my band on it and with my good friend working with me, we shared so many influences basically making those demos sound like our favourite music.

It was a super fun process and maybe I should have been more confident in myself because I certainly had a few super slights after making the record, just praying that people would enjoy it. It is something as I said when that first song came out I think that was the song that challenged, well people hadn’t heard my music in two years and I come out with a song that starts with a grungy electric guitar groove I knew that would challenge people’s perception of my music and that terrified me. I needed to release that song first because I didn’t want people to think that it was the same old Lewis making the same music and not moving forwards. As soon as that song was accepted and people enjoyed it that put my mind at ease about the second album blues.

Was it hard letting the album go when it was finished?
Yeah, it was bittersweet definitely. I recorded this album in June 2015 and we released it in March 2017 so we almost had two years to live with the record. For me that was a really telling factor that it was finished. We spent a lot of that time mixing but outside of that I really rationed myself to listening to the record because I didn’t want to be sick of the album by the time it came out. That was something I made a real conscious effort to not play it to deaf in my car or wherever. I think the moment I did those listening parties and the first one was in Australia I sat down with the people who applied to listen to the record and listen to myself I was still really in to it.

For me, that was the sign that it was finished. It was tough to release it and I imagine it to be similar to a kid going to school. You’ve nurtured this kid for however long and to get on to the realisation that they’ve grown up and it’s their time to try and start making a difference. I’m sure that’s something that is a great feeling but also a tough one because they are not going to be there all day with you. I think that is quite similar with this record. Although it didn’t kick and scream and cry it certainly feels like my baby. To release that in to the world was scary but also very exciting.

How do you feel when you get compared to the likes of Ed Sheeran or Bon Iver?
I think comparisons are how I find new music, if it comes out with hey you might like this but really at its core they may be really dissimilar but I can see the connection whether they are guitar bands or have female singers or whatever it maybe. I think musically I’m very different to Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver but certainly do help influence me.

The early days of Ed was all I used to listen to when I first picked up the guitar. It was like this was so exciting to me with this poet, rapper who sings sad love songs and for me that was everything I grew up loving. I don’t think I sound like Ed at all and that it is a lazy comparison honestly but he certainly has influenced my music, there’s no doubt in that. If people can hear that, then that is amazing. If I had one hundredth of Ed’s success I would die a happy man. As comparisons go that’s not a bad one and hope that broadens my audience!

What do you look forward to the most when you tour Australia?
You have to have a bottle of Ice Break, it is something we don’t have in the UK but I guess in Adelaide I think you call it Farmers Union Ice Coffee. That is something we don’t have in the UK so whenever I’m in Australia I drink copious amounts of Ice Break and Farmers Union and spend all day on a caffeine burst but shouldn’t be the only thing you do!

Interview by Rob Lyon


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