Echoes Of The Future 28 – The Thinking Men
Norwich’s The Thinking Men, a nomination from our colleagues over at The Blue Walrus, emerged as winners from the third heat of Symbiosis, blowing the room away with their John Spencer / Tom Waits influenced stomping blues. Ahead of next month’s final, we caught up with the band to find out more.
(((o))): How long has the band been together and how did you all meet?
Tommy (drummer) joined the band in January 2012 but Johnny (Vocals / guitar), Ronnie (guitar) and Sarah (vocal / Keys) have been playing as The Thinking Men for over a year now. The band was started by Johnny and Ronnie, who were both in separate bands at the time but were best friends socially. They enjoyed the occasional jam, but after a while, discovered that they worked really well together and weren’t bad at writing songs. They then roped Sarah into playing the keys and Tommy joined about a year later.
(((o))): Where did you get your name from & what does it mean?
We came up with the name ‘The Thinking Men’ because we enjoyed mixing philosophical thoughts in with our music. We love music for its simplicity, but it’s important that musicians really consider what they are writing songs about, so that they can share their experiences in hope of connecting with their audience. We believe philosophy, in its thought-provoking form, is a perfect vehicle for this.
(((o))): Describe your sound for us & who would you say were your biggest musical influences?
We sound like the kind of music you would want to hear whilst having a BBQ on a summers day, just before it’s about to rain. Drawing inspiration from songwriters and blues legends in equal measure, we tend to cite Tom Waits, The Doors, Lou Reed, Jack White, Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters amongst our biggest influences. We like to think that we’re trying to unearth the style of the 60s with a new modern twist.
(((o))): And what about non-musical influences?
The great philosophers of old, Nelson’s county, history, and the Bible.
(((o))): Music can be a fickle mistress, what is your biggest high & low as a band so far?
Biggest high: Listening back to our EP once it was finished and realising it’s not half-bad for a debut release.
In our past individual experiences, we have all found that the hardest part of being in a band is keeping the band together. With this in mind, we feel truly blessed that each member of The Thinking Men is 100% committed to the band and we share a great friendship. Our short period of time without a drummer was definitely our lowest point, it’s painful knowing you’ve got something great, but there’s still a missing ingredient. In terms of high points, there’s nothing better than playing to a crowded venue where the sound is great and people are loving the music. It thrilling when people are appreciating and understanding what we’re trying to do..
(((o))): What one fact about the band do you most want to share with the world?
An interesting fact about us is that we have a particularly large following the gypsy population of Macedonia – this isn’t even a lie! When we gigged in Macedonia, we had a busking session out in the street and had gypsy’s dancing round, giving us honey and inviting us to play at their gypsy festivals.
(((o))): The old model of record demo-do gigs-get signed-make millions is pretty broken these days, what’s your plan to deal with this?
It seems that these days you have to put all the hard work and graft in yourself, at the moment we are really trying to build up a fan base in Norwich. We do a scattering of gigs in London and other major cities, but it’s hard to achieve much without a following in your home city. We hope that by just pushing and gigging in Norwich, promoters and record labels will start to notice us.
(((o))): We journalists like to use easy labels to describe bands, what’s the worst thing you’ve seen yourselves described as?
John’s voice was once compared to Jack Black out of School of Rock – this sent him into a temporary depression as this is the complete opposite of the style he’s trying to portray; but we didn’t take it too seriously because it contradicted pretty much everything else he’d ever been compared to!
(((o))): We’re loving what you do but who’s floating your boat right now?
Jake Bugg is one that caught our eye recently as he clearly has very similar influences as us but has put a modern twist on it so his music is much more contemporary and has gained much recognition through this. Jack White is another, with the new release of ‘Blunderbuss’, in which he has clearly conveyed his fantastic song writing abilities. Finally, after watching one of Jools Holland’s shows we discovered Alabama Shakes, their southern soulful style of playing and the lead singers powerful raw vocal made the hairs on our necks stand up, a performance we won’t forget in a hurry.
(((o))): What’s up next for you guys?
We will be playing quite a lot over the next few months in Norwich and Norfolk, then we’ll be hitting some local festivals in the summer, which should be fun. We’re also looking to record four more tracks in the coming months, ready to release with ‘Days Like This’ as part of our next EP after the summer.
Tags: Echoes Of The Future, Norwich, The Thinking Men