An Interview with Tom Bellamy of Losers

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Read Time:8 Minute, 55 Second

Image Credit: Ben Madle

Today I’ve got Tom Bellamy of the UK-based Indie band, Losers. Among other things, we discuss their new music, how the group came together, the making of the new record, Tom’s early influences, some of his favorite records, and a whole lot more. If you would like to learn more about Losers, you can head over to the band’s Facebook page here. Once you’ve done that, dig into this interview. Cheers.

Andrew:
Tom, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Tom:
Hello, and thanks for reaching out! It has indeed been different this last year. Luckily for me, I was still able to get into the studio and chip away at songs. Otherwise, my kitchen became the outlet for my creativity, and I’m immensely proud of my new bread-making skills, which are distinctly average.

Andrew:
Tell us about the backstory. How did you get into music? What was the gateway, so to speak?


Tom:
I grew up just outside of Reading in England, and from the age of 14, my buddies and I would go to the Reading festival every year and witness some incredible music. That got us all hooked from an early age! I’d been playing the trumpet since the age of 10, but this was something else entirely! Then in 1999, when I was 19, the band that I was in (The Cooper Temple Clause) was offered a deal from RCA records. We were 6 friends from school who were just crazy about music and would jam together every day on a pig farm. It all happened quite quickly, to be honest.

Andrew:
As a band, who were some of your earliest and more important influences? 


Tom:
When I met Eddy [Temple-Morris], he was a DJ at XFM in London. I used to listen to his show every week, and at that time, we were both really into “dance music that rocked,” so it was stuff like Prodigy, Soulwax, Leftfield, Unkle, and Massive Attack that got our blood pumping.

Andrew:
Tell us the story of how Losers came together? What are the band’s origins? How did the name come about?


Tom:
I first stumbled across Eddy at an awards show in Wales where Coopers had won an award for the best live act, I think. Eddy was Djing at the after-show party, and I was fascinated by what he was playing, so I approached him and asked if I could stand next to him and watch what he was doing. It wasn’t until a few years later that I joined Losers, pretty much the day the Coopers split. Eddy had been making some remixes under the Losers name and was looking for a new engineer/producer to work with. He had heard some of the remixes I had been doing for TCTC, and I was already a huge fan of his remix show, so it all just fell into place.

Fast forward a few years, and I met Paul [Mullen] on tour whilst I was playing drums in another band. He was playing in a band called The Automatic, and we were invited to go on tour with them. We kinda hung out a bit, but it wasn’t until after the tour when he needed a place to stay that our relationship really blossomed. He stayed with me for about a month in London and eventually we decided to try writing something together. We wrote the song ‘Half Built House’ together in my front room in a day and soon realized it was something special.  And so Losers became a 3 piece. The name is a reaction against that very American ethos of one’s happiness being dependent on the outcome. Losers are happy just to be in “the game.” Losers are basically all about the underdog—the unsung hero. 

Image Courtesy of Reybee, Inc.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about your new single, “Lost in Translation.” To me, this seems like a fitting song title for our times, right? Between the alienation due to social media, quarantine, and politicians that we can’t always trust, it seems like the proverbial message is always kind of skewed. That’s just my initial take, though. What was your inspiration in recording your new track?


Tom:
“Lost In Translation” just came pouring out one day. I just felt really isolated, confused, and disconnected from the world around me. I find politics so bizarre; it constantly makes me question what’s real; there are just so many lies flying about. So many fake narratives, and it just seems that with the help of social media, people are now totally polarised, and we fundamentally can’t have conversations anymore. I felt like I just wanted to escape all that. The words were almost a message to say, “You know what, I’m getting off the grid, and I’ll leave you all to fight it out amongst yourselves!” The outro of the song is a revelation that happened many months after the initial outpouring. It was the light at the end of the tunnel, or more to the point, the light within. Trying to change the world begins within.

Andrew:
The band’s last full-length effort was 2016’s How To Ruin Other People’s Lives. What’s the band been up to since?


Tom:
After the last record, we took some time out to let the dust settle. HTROPL felt like the end of a heavy chapter, and I guess we were looking to try something new. We disconnected the distortion pedals and started to play around with the old synths a bit more. It was a healthy change. 

Andrew:
How about songwriting? What is your process like? Does your work come from a deep, ethereal place? Or is it sort of just a spur of the moment so to speak?


Tom:
Our inspiration comes from the moment that we’re in. We’re lucky in that we produce the music ourselves and have access to a studio 24 hours a day. We like to hang out, and if something happens then, we just go with the flow. It’s amazing what you can write when you’re not thinking about having to write. It’s a joyful thing when you stop thinking.

Andrew:
How does your latest work differ from your earlier offerings? What’s changed? How have you evolved?


Tom:
For me personally, I find it harder to listen to the brutal sounds that I used to enjoy listening to. Space is so important in music, and our latest offerings definitely focus on the “less is more approach” to songwriting, whereas before, we used to throw in the kitchen sink.

Image Credit: Ben Madle

Andrew:
Aside from music, what else are you most passionate about and why? How do your other passions inform and inspire your music?


Tom:
Besides music, I’m fascinated with blockchain technology and the effect that it will have on the world as we know it. I’m so excited about utilizing it with music, the concept that digital art and music can be verifiable and scarce. I believe it’s never been a better time to be an independent artist looking at what will be possible over the next few years. The last 15 years have been disastrous in terms of selling music unless you’re a megastar, of course, but blockchain technology is going to change all that. I also found myself walking down the spiritual path after reading a book called Biocentrism by Robert Lanza. It was my introduction to thinking about consciousness and definitely had a big impact on my writing. 


Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music? What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?


Tom:
I have a vinyl collection at home. I think it’s so cool to have records that you know to hand. When I first started to hang out with Eddy, we used to just pick records from his vinyl collection and listen to music all day. It feels so much better than scrolling your phone for an mp3. I love searching through a record store when I find one. The records that mean the most to me usually have something to do with a significant other. It’s crazy how music can bring back feelings and immediately take you back to a moment in time. I love Elbow’s Sleep In The Back, PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire, Lift To Experience’s The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, and The Delgados’ The Great Eastern, to name a few.

Andrew:
Touring is a big part of any artist’s proverbial machine, but as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about being on the road?


Tom:
I miss seeing people; it’s obvious but true. Touring was all about connection. We’re all wired for connection, so without that, life feels much harder. Touring was a chance to meet new people and see new sights. It opened up my mind to different ways of living and broke down barriers.

Andrew:
Speaking of COVID, where has it left the music scene? So many indie venues are closing, and people are struggling. Do we recover from this? If so, how?

Tom:
Covid has been devastating to the music industry, but it has also laid bare fundamental flaws, which is a good thing. Artists have been in a stranglehold, and something needed to shift. Covid has thankfully sped up that process and been a catalyst for new life. If people are looking to go back to how things were, then they will suffer. If we, however, accept that life is chaos and that the only constant changes, then we don’t need to suffer. We will find new ways. The pain comes from holding on to old ideas. In times like these, we have to pull together. Community is everything. 

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for other artists looking to take the plunge?

Tom:
Never try to be anyone else but you. 

Image Credit: Ben Madle

Interested in learning more about the work of Losers? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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