Tom Speight: "Whatever you’re going through, someone else will get it."
“You just gotta make use of this time, haven’t you really?” says the ever-positive Tom Speight. In the middle of a month-long stint in the studio, Speight is wasting no time, putting down tracks for his third album before the second has even been released. First and foremost a songwriter, it’s been a whirlwind ride since Tom put out his debut album, Collide, in 2019.
Since then, he’s hit number one in Brazil, been touring all over the world, releasing single after single, and all-around burning the candle at both ends in order to get his music heard by as many people as possible.
“Since my first album, I reckon I’ve grown in confidence mostly.” Tom reflects. “Most of this second album is written on my own. I produced a couple of songs on my own as well - just starting to steer my own ship a bit more, really. I decided it was the right time to take more responsibility for what my music should sound like. And I wanted to start using and exploring a bigger sonic palette, taking a few more risks.”
That’s certainly something you can hear on the upcoming album, Everything’s Waiting For You - songs have grown and progressed far past the singer-songwriter sound at the heart of his debut. This time around, the songs sound like they’re designed to be sung and shouted back from the crowds in massive venues.
Tom’s music is unequivocally personal, and yet at the same time, utterly universal and accessible in its nature. “When I’m writing the songs, it’s very much for myself. But once the song is released, I don’t really think of them as mine anymore. Whether you want to get married to them or be buried to them - it becomes the listeners’ song. I try not to think of writing it for anyone else though because I’d never get it finished! I just think, as long as I can relate to it, I’m sure someone else will. At the end of the day, we all feel similar things. I just think that’s a universal truth; whatever you’re going through, someone else will get it.”
Writing a substantial amount of his debut album in hospital whilst battling Crohn’s disease is a move that somewhat prepared him to write during lockdown for this second offering. “Writing songs in hospital, that was just pure escapism. And with lockdown, again, writing was a way to switch off from all the depressing news - just trying to write a song for a couple of hours and switching it all off. It’s a form of exercise, like mindfully watching a film or something.
“I wrote one of my songs for the new album over Zoom, and it went weirdly well. I find Zoom quite exhausting because it’s so focused - I never want to stay on for longer than about an hour. So Lydia [co-writer and backing vocalist] and I were just firing off at each other. I think it made me write more on my own as well. I love writing with other people but I just love writing songs in general - I think I’m a songwriter before I’m a singer.”
But, in general, Tom Speight has flourished under the restrictions of the past two years “My health, in general, has been the best it’s ever been during lockdown. I feel a bit bad saying that, but I personally found it really amazing because it was the first time in ages I wasn’t running around like a headless chicken.” After the schedule Tom’s been keeping to for the last few years, we aren’t really surprised. “When I’m touring I struggle to take care of the basics - sleeping well and eating well. Rest is so important for your health, but when you’re doing 100 gigs a year it all goes out of the window. It’s very difficult to make sure you’re fully charged. Whereas during lockdown, I was exercising, I was eating a lot better, I was taking long walks on my own and just listening to podcasts and music. I think for me it felt like the biggest recharge from the last two years of touring.”
Moving towards a more coherent overarching theme for his second album, Tom decided to try to write his gratitude into the record. “The whole of the second album is basically about how beautiful the world is, and how lucky we are to be alive. Even the track titles, they’re joyous titles. The first album was all about falling in love and getting your heartbroken and I was quite conscious of the fact that I didn’t want to do that again.”
Living with a health condition like Tom has for the past few years has obviously changed his perspective on life - and his mental health in the process. “I feel very lucky to be alive, especially living with Crohn’s disease, which I’ve nearly died from twice. I just remember this feeling of walking out of the hospital after two months - my first time being outside in two months! - and I think I was listening to the new Ben Howard album. And I felt like I was high like I was on psychedelics or something. I wasn’t, but I was so hyper-aware of how amazing the world was, and the trees and just the outside. I like peaceful things. I’m not really into going out and getting smashed, I didn’t crave the pub during lockdown. I just like the peaceful side of life.
“The way I think about things is that there are a lot of people who are in worse positions than I am. I’ve got a lot of things going for me - other areas apart from my Crohn’s disease, which is obviously quite a big damper - but I’ve never been the person to play the victim. I think it’s actually made me stronger and made me appreciate the fact that I get to do music for a living. It’s easy to get bogged down and depressed about why things might not be working. But I think when you’ve nearly died, it does put things into perspective. I just feel quite lucky to be here, to be honest.
“I hope people can resonate with that, as things start to open back up, all those things we used to take for granted, and just think, like, wow. This is pretty amazing really.”
Tom Speight will release his second album, Everything’s Waiting For You on the 24th of September 2021 via Nettwerk Music Group. His UK tour will kick off in February 2022.
UK TOUR DATES – FEBRUARY 2022:
8th – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
9th – Manchester, Deaf Institute
10th – Bristol, Thekla
11th – London, Lafayette