My songs donít belong to me anymore
Interview with Tom McRae
By Robert Pally

The songs of the English singer songwriter Tom McRae are as deep as the ones by Nick Drake or Mark Hollis. His fantastic 2nd album Just like blood might help to get him the same recognition.

E.C.: You get compared with Nick Drake and Bob Dylan. Nick Drake killed himself, Bob Dylan writes songs that no one understands. Does your Future look like this?

Tom: Got no intentions of killing myself, although God may have other plans. I understand every one of Dylan's songs, although only with my heart and not my head..... if people can relate to my music in an emotional way then I don't care about the rest.

E.C.: Which songwriter inspires you? And what is it exactly that inspires you?

Tom: Everything inspires me, all art forms, all life forms. Songwriters who can articulate the unspeakable, among the best Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Mark Hollis, Neil Finn.

E.C.: You use some extraordinary rhythms on "Just like blood". What does rhythm mean to you?

Tom: I'm trying to overcome my fear of rhythm, I see it as another authority to be disobeyed! Music often enters the body through the feet, I'm just looking for anyway to get in there without people noticing.... and then it's too late.

E.C.: What atmosphere do you need to write your songs?

Tom: I need to be alone, and I need to have lost the bit of myself that thinks it can control anything. Then it's about learning to recognise the brilliant accidents.

E.C.: On your website I read that you try to hit the transcendent moment with your songs. How often have you hit this moment and what do you feel then?

Tom: Occasionally I get close, and I feel a beautiful emptiness, I cease to recognise myself .... and for a second I'm free.

E.C.: Has this longing to hit this moment to do with your religious background?

Tom: No. But it has everything to do with being human.

E.C.: In your youth you sang Gospel songs. What has that taught you for your own songs?

Tom: That all music should be capable of breaking your heart and restoring it in the gap between verse and chorus..... if God exists he/she exists in that moment.

E.C.: Your songs are introspective and a kind of sad. Could you write a real rock song?

Tom: I'd love to write a rock song - all sorts of songs If I get the chance - I've written a few in my time, it's just a case of trying to get the power of the song across without the power of the noise drowning it.

E.C.: What did you like about the album title "Just like blood"?

Tom: I like that I finished it, I like that it got released. I like that I took risks. But nothing I do ever feels good enough to me.

E.C.: What made you write "Karaoke Soul" and "Mermaid blues"?

Tom: Anger, love, and confusion and disappointment.

E.C.: What was the first song you wrote and what was it about?

Tom: It was probably about a girl, I can't remember much about it, but it was probably terrible. And probably in D.

E.C.: Was there a special incident that made your start music?

Tom: Fear. Fear of being trapped. I've been scared all my life, but not any more.

E.C.: Do your songs have a healing effect on you or have you heard that they have that effect on other people?

Tom: Other people write to me and say the music has helped them, the process of writing and singing helps me, but after that the songs don't belong to me any more.

Click here to visit the official Tom McRae website