Tom Hickox

BY ALEX ZINOVIEFF
FRIDAY, 2ND MAY 2014

I’m not going to tell you much about Tom Hickox, because I’ve asked all that I think you need to know in the questions below. All I will say, because he can’t say it himself, is that he is remarkable, and that his music is thought provoking and complex. He is a man who has thought a lot about the music he makes, and it’s obvious - so is his intelligence.

Tom also told us about what his six favourite place in London were, and why.

I walk a lot. It's a way of teasing ideas out of my subconscious, so that when I sit down at my piano to write and compose, I'm not just faced with the dreaded empty page. There's something about the physical rhythm of a walk that just encourages my brain to get into a creative space. And there is no better place to walk than London, the city that for most of my life I have been proud to call my home. Here are a few of my favourite spots.

The Regents Canal

The artery that connects London's most vital northerly organs, from Camden Market, through Kings Cross, Angel, Broadway Market, Hackney, Victoria Park, and on to The Thames, it combines waterside serenity, victorian factories, decent boozers, a snapshot of all that is great about this incredible city, old and new. And my friend Jonny lives on a boat there too. 

Soho

The real 'city' is to be found here, not somewhere near Liverpool St. The beating heart of London, still a fulcrum of creativity, with a mind boggling array of sensational restaurants, pubs, bars, one off shops. A genuine thrill just to walk these historic, buzzing streets. Manhattan is its only rival worldwide.

Camden Passage, Angel

Just half a mile from where I grew up near the Caledonian Rd, my earliest memories of this stage-set-perfect alleyway are of it being quite a sinister, dark place. That might have had something to do with the look of the owners of all the antique stalls, some of which I think haven't changed in the intervening 20 years, but I love it there now. Full of wonderful surprises.

Camden High St

I've got mixed feelings about Camden market, which is really just an enormous tourist attraction now, but there are still great shops and stalls to be found if you look hard enough. The High St as a whole though, from Mornington Crescent to Chalk Farm, must be one of the greatest drags for live music in the world, from Koko to the Underworld, the Forge, Dingwalls, Barfly, The Monarch, Black Heart, The Green Note, The Dublin Castle and The Roundhouse, it is vibrant. I've been privileged to call Camden home for the last few years.

The Barbican

Some of my earliest musical memories are of seeing my old man perform here, and I loved it then and still do. It felt like a giant maze, and I always thought it was brilliantly futuristic, with all those different levels! Such an ambitious bit of architecture, which I realise many people loathe, but I think it's an inspiring space. 

The South Bank

The change on this side of the Thames over the last 20 years has been miraculous. I think the importance of the Thames is sometimes overlooked when people think of and talk about London, it's not quite represented culturally in relation to the city as obviously as the Seine is to Paris or the Hudson is to New York. But if you think about the section of the south bank from Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral, past the Tate Modern to the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and London Eye, it really is every bit as happening as anything north of the river. 

Where have we caught you, and what are you up to (apart, obviously, from answering our stupid questions)?

At home, honestly, in the middle of a few interviews. Considering another cup of tea, and possibly a slice of cake. 

War, Peace and Diplomacy recently came out (10th March). We liked it a lot. If someone wanted to get an idea of the vibe, what would you tell them?

This is a question I find very hard to answer, but I would tell them what I was trying to achieve, which was to make an album of stories through which I could explore the world, the people in it, and myself, and arrange those narratives into both intimate and explosively massive soundscapes. 

You place a huge emphasis on lyrics. What sort of a role in the finished song to give the lyrics. Are they a support role, or the centrepiece? 

A song is the marriage of melody and lyrics, and both are as important as the other. In fact both are essential! 

Your parents have had extraordinary musical lives. Tell us about that…

They worked very hard in jobs they loved, and achieved success. Inspirational.

We understand you’re a big reader. Is there a book that hit you harder than any other? 

I love reading, but it would be a stretch to call myself a big reader at the moment, I just don't have the time. I'm a big fan of 20th century American literature, particularly Roth and Steinbeck. East of Eden is an extraordinary study of the human condition.

If I were to turn on your iPod now, what would be playing? 

Johnny Cash, his 4 albums of "American Recordings". I always turn to these to be reminded of how to deliver a song. Incredible performances.

Picture a boatshed. What’s inside?

Flooded to the ceiling.

What do you think happens to you after you die? 

Relief, followed by decomposition. 

How much value do you see in appearance? (We think you’re a very snappy dresser).

 

Thank you. Well I like clothes, and I like wearing suits, but I certainly don't place a value on what other people wear. Each to their own. 

Where do you live, and does it feel like home? 

I live in London's glorious Camden, and yes it definitely does feel like home. 

What is coming up for you in the next 6 months? 

Touring mostly. And seeing an unusually large number of my pals getting married.