RJ Thompson. No, not the Statford-Upon-Avon based building firm, famous for their expertise in conservatories and extensions, and no, not the security company based in Nebraska either: we mean the singer songwriter RJ Thompson, renowned for his guitar-driven melodies and barn-storming live shows.
W&H: So, how did this all begin?
I remember the day when I decided that I wanted to start writing and singing my own songs. I’d just been to see U2 live in Manchester on the Elevation tour... I think it was back in 2001. I picked up my guitar the next day and started writing down ideas and I finished my first song that afternoon. It all spiralled from there.
W&H: Where does your music come from? Influences etc?
My biggest influences are probably the musicians in my band. When we’re rehearsing or recording, that’s when I feel like I’m learning new stuff, which then finds its way into new songs or live shows. On the last couple of tours, we’d make a habit of changing the songs slightly every night. Even if it’s just a spur of the moment decision, we’d be throwing reggae rhythms into straight forward blues/rock songs, or altering the chord progressions slightly.
Outside of the band I’m a big fan of people like Ray LaMontagne, John Mayer, and Bruce Springsteen... his album ‘The Rising’is pretty much a perfect record in my opinion.
W&H: If you could sum up your music in 3 words, what would they be?
Worth A Listen! ... Or maybe...Soulful, Bluesy, Poetic...
W&H: Which mid-twentieth century dictator do you most closely identify with and why?
There really isn’t a good way to answer this question! Did any of them play the guitar?
W&H: Tell us a bit about the upcoming single.
Well, it’s called ‘A Better Life’, and it’s an up-tempo acoustic driven song, with a four-to-the-floor drumbeat and the odd rockabilly piano solo! It feels like a natural progression from my last CD (the Acoustic Sessions EP).
We’ve been in and out of the studio over the last year, and this single was the track that came together very easily. It just sounded right the first few times we played it, so a lot of what you’ll hear on the recording is first or second take. I think it makes for a fun and spontaneous sounding record. However, lyrically it is quite deep, and people will be able to relate to what I’m trying to put across.
We were lucky enough to finish and master it at Abbey Road Studios, which was an unbelievable experience.
W&H: Is playing live something that has always been important to you?
Definitely. It’s essential I think. For me, gigging and performing are the best ways for me to learn my trade... and the best way to really connect with fans.
W&H: Is song-writing a therapeutic process for you?
It can be. The new single is probably one of the better examples of that actually.
W&H: If you could collaborate with any musician alive or dead, who would it be?
I think it would have to be Springsteen.
W&H: What would be your dream performance?
To watch? I would have loved to have been alive to see the Motown 25 show where Michael Jackson performed the moonwalk for the first time back in 1983... to actually see it live.
To be a part of? I’ve always wanted to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, ever since I saw the U2 ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ live video, or the Royal Albert Hall in London.
W&H: If you ruled the world what would be your first official act as world-leader?
I don’t know... I think the problem with a lot of things is the lack of communication, or truthful communication at least, between politicians and the general public, so that is something I’d look at.
W&H: What is your favourite food?
You can’t go wrong with Spaghetti Bolognese.