TOM’S GOT CAVIN FEBER
TOM ODELL’S BEEN VERY BUSY AT THE BACK OF HIS GARDEN AND YOU’LL SOON HEAR WHY, AS HE TELLS
WE ALL get nervous sometimes, and it’s nice to know that even an award-winning singer songwriter still gets butterflies occasionally. Tom Odell has a Brit Award, an Ivor Novello for songwriting and three UK Top five albums, but he’s still apprehensive ahead of a live stream and Q&A that he’s got planned for this weekend.
‘I’m doing this in my studio here,’ he gestures around the room over Zoom. ‘It’s quite small, it’s like a cabin at the end of my garden. It’s extraordinary in the sense that I wouldn’t normally invite 1,000 people into my house. Unless it was a party that got out of control,’ he laughs.
‘Imagine that. Fitting 1,000 people into a room that is six metres by two. I’ve just been in here constantly, I’ve made a lot of music, you’ll hear some of it very soon.’
Tom’s new single, Numb, is out now and it’s among the most personal music he has ever written. No mean feat. ‘I’ve been doing this job in some capacity, since I was 16. I’ve been doing interviews like this since I was 21, and I’m 30 now. So much of my life has been documented through my music. I’ve probably shared more intimate things than I have with some of my closest friends, through my songs,’ he says.
And there’s more to come on a new album, too. ‘The thing with this album is it touches a bit more on mental health… I had some mental health problems over recent years, and it’s been a new thing writing about that, because I always kept that stuff off limits. Partly because I just didn’t know what the f*** it was that I was feeling. It’s been quite cathartic to talk about how I’m feeling, and I’ve found I’m quite inspired by that.’ But writing this music wasn’t Tom’s first foray in talking openly about mental health. ‘I did a podcast with Fearne Cotton, a year or so ago. I was really open in this podcast about having panic attacks, and I was shocked at the amount of messages I received,’ he explains.
‘Whenever I put out a song, I’ll get a few messages from long-lost friends, the kind of people that text you on your birthday.
‘But then I put this podcast out, I got 40 texts from people I know plus endless messages on Instagram from people saying they’ve gone through the same thing.’
Tom admits he always feared mentioning it before, at the risk of sounding self-indulgent. ‘I thought that people wouldn’t want to hear about my problems, but what I found was the opposite,’ he says.
‘People responded with open arms at my candour and bringing down the barriers that we all put up around ourselves when we’re going through these kind of things.’
And Tom says he feels invigorated by this new direction and the freedom to share within his songs. Another big shift for Tom has been a new-found love of pop music. It wasn’t always the case as he admits he unfairly judged the genre previously.
‘I wrongly thought it was the lowest common-denominator music,’ he winces. ‘I have really got into the sort of bedroom pop sound, I’ve been listening to a lot of Billie Eilish, Travis Scott... Pop had become a bit of a dirty word. Recently, though, it’s become so broad, inspired by so many different cultures and languages.
‘For the first time in my life, I get to Friday morning and I’m really bloody excited about what new music is coming out that day.’
As well as spending time recording, Tom is counting down the days until he can properly play live again. Right now he just wants to go to a gig, never mind play one. ‘I was talking to my girlfriend about it. Just put me in a room of 1,000 people with a beer in my hand – I just want the excitement, the fanfare, the anticipation that the gig is about to happen’.
For now, his live-stream will have to do, even from a ‘cabin’ over Zoom.
‘I miss going to gigs. Just put me in a room of 1,000 people with a beer in my hand’