Ipswich: Singer-songwriter Tom McConnell brings fo-town fun to Brewery Tap

Singer-songwriter Tom McConnell

Singer-songwriter Tom McConnell - Credit: Archant

Tom McConnell has always been a dreamer, full of grand ideas. He once drew up an entire plan for a theme park, writing out the budget and everything. At £20 it didn’t quite happen, but then he was only seven.

Coming from a very musical family, nobody was surprised when he made singing and songwriting his ambition.

“Music has always been the goal, the dream... I’ve been in so many bands that I’ve thought ‘this will be the one’, now I’m going to have a go at doing it myself,” says the 22-year-old music graduate.

“I’m doing this full-time, playing two to three shows a week, making that the bread and butter. The dream is to really have a crack at making a career out of this.”

The thinking behind it won’t surprise other new graduates.

“You apply to 50 jobs, hear back from zero... I thought I’m just going to have a bit of a crack at doing what I absolutely love and see if I can make a bit of a go at that. I’ve given myself a year to have a really good crack at it,” says Tom, who spent a year interning for a small record label in Seattle and playing whenever he could.

“I was at the university but, to be honest, I didn’t turn up for many classes,” he laughs. “(I thought) I’m going to spend most of my time there. The label was interesting... it was really cool to be a part of. Some of the guys had been on the scene the same time as Nirvana were coming out and there was this one guy who told me the lead singer of Fleet Foxes used to be his roadie way back in the day.”

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A few months into his one-year trial, it’s going really well.

He recently performed alongside world champion beat boxer Shlomo at the New Wolsey, which led to a surprising offer.

“I was heading out the door to get a train to Cambridge, paying a surprise visit to my girlfriend on her birthday, when I received a text from Shlomo asking if I fancied supporting him at the Royal Albert Hall? We got on the next train to London and I opened the show in the Elgar Room that evening. I also got to have dinner with Shlomo, Newton Faulkner...”

Tom’s playing at Ipswich’s Cult Cafe, on the Waterfront, tonight. Tomorrow, he’ll be launching new EP Scraps at The Brewery Tap.

“It came out on September 24 and I’ve just booked a tour off the back of it so I’m going to try to play as much as I can now. It’s a four-track EP recorded in four different studios, just wherever I could get a little bit of extra time when I was doing another project... favours from friends, stuff like that; that’s why it’s taken me that long to get something released.”

He laughs he’s invented a new genre - fo-town, a marriage of folk and Motown. His live shows feature a lot of loop pedals and gadgets as he beat-boxes and harmonises with himself on stage.

“(The EP’s all original music), sometimes (during live shows) I throw in a cheeky kind of cover... I did a cover of She Wolf by Shakira and made the chords as jazzy as I could, people seemed to really enjoy that. The more obscure the better.

“There’s nothing like it (gigging), it’s so hard to capture... my live shows sound completely different to anything I’ve done on record. That’s kind of fun as well because it means I can almost write two versions of the same song.”

Scraps is available online now and at tomorrow’s gig. Check out www.facebook.com/tom.mcconnell.music, www.tmcconnellmusic.com, www.twitter.com/TMcConnellmusic and www.youtube.com/user/tmcconnellmusic

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