Tom Hickox – determined to get the balance right

London songwriter Tom Hickox who has been compared to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.
London songwriter Tom Hickox who has been compared to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell – tribunegroove@live.ie

Tom Hickox has a sound that’s hard to pin down, but may it well appeal to fans of Duke Special, Tom Waits and English indie stars Wild Beasts. The London-based songwriter, whose baritone voice and vibrant compositions have also seen him compared to Randy Newman and Leonard Cohen, plays Róisín Dubh on Thursday, September 14, where he will be showcasing material from both of his studio albums.

Tom Hickox’s most recent record, Monsters in The Deep, was recorded in London in State of The Ark studios. That’s owned by Terry Britain, who is best known for penning What’s Love Got To Do With It? as made famous by Tina Turner.

“It was built as a personal studio, not a professional one, and it’s stuffed with amazing instruments and vintage gear,” Tom says of the recording space. “That was really very important to us, because we wanted to make a record on tape. We believe in that process, it sounds so much better than straight into a digital set-up.”

In the studio, Tom worked alongside his friend Chris Hill, who also produced his 2013 debut War, Peace and Diplomacy.  Tom, who is signed to Warner Chappell, also spoke to other ‘eminent’ producers but decided Chris would best fit the bill.

“When you really have a good and established relationship creatively, that’s worth a huge amount,” he says. “You already know a lot about each other’s taste and musical preferences. You have to be able to almost fall out at times. When you’re making records, you’re making thousands of decisions, and some of them are really small – but nonetheless, you have to make them!

“It really helps if you’re comfortable enough to say ‘no, I don’t believe in that’,” Tom adds.  “That kind of creative tension can be a really good thing. You’re not just lazily stumbling into the obvious decision.”

The title track from his new album is a catchy, hands-in-the air kind of song that sounds like it would go down well at a festival. How did Monsters in The Deep come about?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.