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St Thomas - Interview

  by Philip Vincent

published: 12 / 4 / 2004

St Thomas - Interview


Norwegian indie folk band St Thomas have just released their latest album, 'Let's Grow Together-The Comeback of St Thomas' on the Track and Field label. Philip Vincent talks to them about it and touring

I’m not having a good day. It’s three o-clock on Easter Sunday. I’ve just finished work on the reception of a hospital with no patients (yes as pointless as it sounds). I’m sitting at a train station with the illustrious “engineering works” delaying all trains and ensuring they all take at least two hours to get there. Not good. My target location is the Barfly in London, where St Thomas are playing as one of the acts on their label Track and Field's all day regular Easter festival, 'Pow to the People', St Thomas are a Norwegian band sounding a bit like Beck whilst at the same time not. They definitely inhabit that slightly off centre Folk/Indie Singer/Songwriter niche. I had only received the promo copy of their new album, 'Let's Grow Together-The Comeback of St Thomas', the day before I did the interview and so didn’t have as much time as I had wanted to learn the music. I made a hasty trip to the Internet (wonderful thing, not just for naked ladies either!) got on the bands' site and had me a looksie. I discovered that the band started in 1999 with Thomas Hansen playing his songs with a wandering band of minstrels with a changing line-up. He sings in English even though being Norwegian (although as I later discover is not hugely fluent in speaking it!) with his music have a definite American sound to it. He has had limited success in the UK but seemed to be doing okay in his native land, whilst a swift look in the guestbook showed he has fans pretty much everywhere in the world. So anyway eventually I get to the Barfly and say to the lovely man on the door, “Hi my name’s Phil, I’m from Pennyblackmusic. I’m here to interview St Thomas." At which he replied sarcastically “Great, twelve pounds please.” Me:“I’m on the guest list. Him: What’s the name again? Me (slowly): Philip Vincent. Him: Oh yes you are on the industry list, that’s a fiver. Now, I’m slightly shocked as to how someone who is going to provide good publicity for a new artist is getting charged to do it. But not wanting to let my editor down I duly pay the fiver and carry on my way in. I head to the merchandise counter and ask for the label manager. After about 5 minutes the guy appears, introduces himself and says he will try to find St Thomas for me. Twenty minutes and one £2.50 can of coke from the bar later I am ushered to a table where the band are. It’s at this point I realise things are not going to go well. The band, who are from Norway, speak little or no English and our awkward introduction makes this painfully aware. Alas, I sit down, hit record on my tape machine and the following happened: PB: Hello, We don’t really know much about you guys in England. Can you tell us a little about yourselves? Froide Refsnes (St Thomas' drummer): Sorry, can you speak slower? We don’t understand a word you say when you speak so fast. PB: I repeat the above question slower. FR: I’m the member of the band that plays for St Thomas and here is St Thomas. What are you about St Thomas? Thomas Hansen : It's... er... I dunno catchy. It's ...er ...little bit absurd. Humoristic, traditional yet not traditional because we never follow any rules. We follow no rules when we record songs so for the normal listener it may be strange but catchy melody is there and stays in your head for a while. PB: How did you get involved with Track and Field? TH: Yeah, I heard a record from their label and found out who they were and thought it would be a nice label for me. It’s the same honest idea for the music which is more important than the perfection. PB: Was it a conscious decision to come to the UK instead of trying you luck in the US? TH: I would like to be bigger in England. We are touring in May. It’s very important with no promotion budget. PB: Have you done much of a tour already? TH: We supported Lambchop on tour, Cambridge, York, Newcastle, Leicester. That’s a strange city. FR: Yes, Leicester is a strange place. The old drummer used to live there. PB: I heard you voted on 'Pop Idol'' in Norway. Do you condone this kind of music? TH: I don’t like that at all. I think it’s strange because it’s so different to music that normally sells, so it surprises me too when it does. It was never planned. You can plan those things. It is what labels do, but it's nice when real music breaks through like in the old days. PB: Sum up your musical influences. TH: We are influenced by American artists mixed with some Norwegian folk traditions, simple chords with a melody and maybe some strange arrangements. PB: Who do you recommend our readers to go and see at the moment? TH: I recommend Herman Dune. We haven’t many good bands in Norway, and some garage rock bands that are big in Japan. At this point the previously quiet bar cranks the PA which seems to wake the band up a little bit. We then proceed to have a 5-minute conversation in dodgy English about my tape recorder, which is digital and thus whether it will handle the change in noise level! The highlight for me being the drummer shouting the word “Compression” very loudly into it and making me play it back so he could hear if I was lying or not. Luckily I wasn’t. The interview then continued with both the band and myself shouting to be heard above the music. PB: What do you guys see yourself doing in the next twelve months? Any plans for world domination? TH: We are on tour across America and record a new album. We will tour all the time. There is no point sitting home watching TV. PB: Okay, final question. Ten years time what do you see yourself doing? TH: Sitting in a little club with a guitar performing my records. Maybe I will be too old for that then. Who knows? PB: Well, look at AC/DC! St Thomas: Completely blank faces and silence all round. PB: Well ...er.... Thankyou. Have a great show this evening! I look forward to hearing some more from you guys.

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St Thomas - Interview

St Thomas - Interview

St Thomas - Interview

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