My Inspiration: Tom Joshua – Knock On A Hollow | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo By Jodie Canwell

Having kicked off 2020 with the release of the Cinema in January, Tom Joshua drops his second single of the year ‘Knock on a Hollow’. This track like his previous release will feature his debut EP, Undergrowth, which was produced by Cam Blackwood (George Ezra, Billie Marten, British Sea Power) and is released later this year. 

Here, Tom discusses the inspiration behind his latest indie-folk anthem…

I heard Nick Drake’s “The Cello Song” being covered by The Books and Jose Gonzales on a film soundtrack a long while ago. I was instantly connected to the song and then fell into years of listening to him and the world he drew up in his songs; although abstract, it felt super familiar and close to me. His guitar tunings were how I came to start enjoying the guitar; everything felt satisfying to play in them and were easy to build songs on. 

As time went by I discovered that so many artists that I had been listening to – both new and old, had equally been influenced by Nick Drake; Sufjan Stevens, Jose Gonzales, Bon Iver, Elliot Smith and Bombay Bicycle Club to name a few. 

He’s clearly a huge influence to many and I think he’s kind of elemental to a certain type of music. I’d definitely say he’s top of the music food chain for me; undeniably himself and unafraid to create beautiful music that seems worlds away from everybody else. His way of writing made me feel comfortable writing whatever was in my head, hazy or clear, pretty or not. 

I grew up listening to a lot of alt-rock, pop-punk, folk, emo and indie music. Jimmy Eat World were another massive favourite of mine, their hooks, melodies and choruses always made me want to write emotion with the same intensity that they did. There’s thousands of Artists which I could attribute influence to when I’m writing. I’m often like, “Oh yeah, this is a Springsteen verse with a Radiohead bridge and a Jimmy chorus.” 

I can always feel my influences bubbling just below the surface. They seem to be pretty vast and pulled from everywhere. Hopefully, I manage to bring it together in a cohesive manner that doesn’t entirely alienate anyone.

Aside from musical references, I’d say I’m very influenced by the world around me. I’ve got a wandering imagination and a tendency to give simple things, or moments in time, a lot of poetic license. I’d say those things lead the music and I like them to. I don’t really have a style or Artist in mind that I want to replicate but I think I will inevitably borrow loads of their things to carry whatever sentiment I’m chasing. 

Knock on a Hollow is simply about someone playing drums in a flat above the parade of shops near me. Before my dog died, I would walk her around the estate nearby it and I heard them. 

From then, I started to imagine the life of this person I didn’t know. I had a strong visual image in my head that looked like an Edward Hopper painting; of this mystery drummer living by himself in a flat, with a lot of sun coming through his windows. 

I had the idea before I had any music. I remember writing this ‘The Police’ type hook in my room. I looped it on a pedal and started writing this character over it. The song, I think, is about the habit of creating in a living space; a question of, “Why do we do it?” and the benefits of banging on stuff like drums, guitars or other things that are hollow. I wanted the chorus to sound like the release that you get when you expel something out of your head, by banging on something periodically with your body. This is probably why it’s the noisiest chorus I’ve released to date. 

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