'Music is like an addiction' singer songwriter Tom Seth Johnson
Pictures: Sam Gould Photography
Tom Seth Johnson’s an up-and-coming singer songwriter. The 25-year-old former Downs School Compton student from East Hendred has been playing gigs in Oxfordshire and West Berks for the last five years and released his latest single Anywhere In The World Right Now on all streaming platforms on April 7.
After headlining The Fiddler’s Elbow and supporting Alexis Kings at various venues, he is set to open the UK’s biggest free festival BunkFest this summer.
Releasing this single will be a career highlight for Tom as: “It’s taken a lot of time and money to get to this point. I’m proud of this song and the music video. I had the best time creating these art pieces and that’s what being creative is all about. Loving your craft. So I’m glad I will finally have something to show for it.”
Tom started songwriting at the age of 12, in Year 7 at school. “My form was in the music department and my form tutor was always late. There would be all these out of tune guitars lying around and I took a shine to them.
“I only knew how to play two chords so I kept playing them over and over. It got to the point where I started writing words and melodies over these two chords rather than improving my guitar skills and the rest is history.
“In sixth form I set up my first indie rock band Kaldera with guitarist Henry Belcher, Oscar Robinson and Alasdair Jenkins. We went on to play various venues in Reading and played at Truckfest in 2016.”
He describes his music as a modern sound with vintage rock and roll influences.
“My songs have the raw vocals of Paolo Nutini, catchy harmonies of the early Beatles and the rough indie charisma of the Kaiser Chiefs, with a sprinkle of Jake Bugg to top it off.
“I write from the point of view of outcasts and lost lovers, bringing a new perspective and incisive wit to my tales of relationships gone wrong and teenage adolescence.”
After leaving school, Tom moved to Bristol for four years to study music and songwriting at university. “I set up another indie rock band Temple Keys 2017 and gigged around Bristol playing the O2 Academy amongst other prestigious venues. However, things never felt like they were taking off with Temple Keys and the band eventually split as I got a job as a musician in the French Alps in 2019.
“As you can imagine, I had the time of my life playing six nights a week to drunken tourists and enjoying the slopes in the daytime. This opportunity gave me the confidence I needed to go solo as it was just me and the guitar every night.”
However, his season in the Alps got cut short in 2020 due to the global pandemic.
“Through the trials and tribulations of lockdown, and working in a packing factory, I experienced a burst of inspired frustration.
“Locked away in my bedroom in East Hendred, I encapsulated my withdrawals of normal life and wrote my best songs to date and I’ve been working odd jobs here and there to fund my solo campaign.”
He loves to listen to 60s and 70s music, Creedence Clearwater, Sly and the Family Stone, Simon and Garfunkel, James Brown, but “as an aspiring pop artist I need to keep up with what is current. So I’ve recently been playing Sam Fenders latest album on repeat.”
“My musical influences are so varied, but when I listen back to myself I can hear a lot of Kings of Leon, Paolo Nutini and The Beatles.”
Anywhere In The World Right Now, recorded in Camden and produced by Alexis Kings’ front man Brendan Luke, reminds the listener that when the things we love most are taken away from us, it is easy to find ourselves going a bit crazy. This song indeed has the raw vocals of Paolo Nutini, catchy harmonies of the early Beatles, and the rough indie charisma of the Kaiser Chiefs, with a sprinkle of Jake Bugg to top it off.
“This release is the most excited I’ve been about my music for a long time. Probably since I was with Kaldera back at the Downs. I know I have put everything into it and that’s all I can do. The rest is up to the listener. It was written on a particularly rubbish day in lockdown after another mind-numbing shift in the packing factory. When the things you love get taken away from you it’s easy to find yourself going a bit crazy.
“Music is like an addiction I’m not trying to shake off. But when it’s not accessible, it’s easy to find avenues of torment anywhere you go. I feel everyone could have related to this song at that time.”
He still loves to gig locally: “I am a regular musician at Dish at the Harwell campus and the Red Lion in Blewbury – I play there every two weeks.
“And I love coming to the open mic night at The Newbury pub and terrace.”
His next gigs are at Dish Harwell on April 20 and 27 and at the Camden Assembly on the 29th “which I’m very excited about”.
“My current ambition is to try and grow an organic fanbase who will be able to give me a platform to write, record and release my music at a much faster pace.
“I love playing live and I want to play to bigger crowds at bigger venues and hopefully hit the festival circuit by next year. I’m very much looking forward to BunkFest. I will be opening the festival on the main stage on Friday, September 1 and I am set to perform in front of 4-5,000 people.
“It’s quite a nerve-racking prospect, but these are the opportunities I’ve been dreaming of."
Tom Seth Johnson – Anywhere In The World Right Now review by Brian Harrington
Singer/songwriter Tom Seth Johnson’s new single is a slice of feel-good rock which I predict will go over big on the festival circuit and is guaranteed to get people dancing and singing along.
The ex-Downs School pupil, now based in Oxford, is often described as recalling the Brit-pop anthems of the late 90s.
This new single, for me, has a more mature, rockier feel. It is certainly anthemic and a clever blend of American style rock/pop riffs with lyrics which could only be British.
Full of hook lines, Anywhere In The World Right Now is a track with instant appeal, which festival goers will still be singing in tents in the early hours of the morning and around makeshift camp fires.
If this doesn’t go over big and propel Tom’s career forward, there is no justice in the music world. Great stuff.
Give it a listen, you’ll be hooked.