Central Victorian Indie-Folk heartthrob Tom Harrington has released his latest single 'Be There Soon.' His debut single 'Before You Go' caused a stir, being nominated by Tones and I to enter the That One Song competition, where it was successfully picked up by Ziggy Alberts. Now the 24-year old songbird has been labouring night & day at the prestigious The Aviary Recording Studio in Abbotsford, which has famously produced the likes of Chet Faker & The Cat Empire. Mixed and mastered by Adam Dempsey (Angie McMahon, Diddiri) & Fraser Montgomery (Allen Stone, Ash Grunwald), 'Be There Soon' provides a beautiful folk guitar backdrop for Tom's patented story-weaving drawl.
Upbeat & crisp, the song elements melt into each other to create an intimate & provocative experience between man & guitar. The heart-touching bridge really brings the piece together, raw & soaring. Of the track, Tom stated:
“This song personally means a lot to me. It’s filled with memories that, whilst feel uniquely mine, I know other people can relate to and can share with their own loves.”
It foreshadows things to come, with the promise of an EP on the way to fill our 2022 itineraries with:
“This track sets the mood for my entire Be There Soon EP, which I named in its honour. The composition of bright acoustic guitar, minimalist drums and percussion keep it floating through the air beside its breathy hook line, that is initially unexpected following the 2 introductory strums.”
We were lucky enough to catch up with Tom and his horse wisdom on the track, life & the future:
Your latest single “Be There Soon” has just hit the shelves. Tell us about the song. What is it about? What were the kind of things going on while you were writing this incredible track? How did the song form - was it different in previous iterations?
I wrote this song about an alternate version of my life where border restrictions didn’t exist and hadn’t forced the end to a long distance relationship I was in. I was searching for a bit of happiness amongst the lockdowns in Victoria so began envisioning my life as a touring musician. Choosing my life rather than following in its shadows.
Imagining all the time I would have to spend on the road by myself, but mainly how insignificant that would feel if I was coming back home to her, and all of her unique little idiosyncrasies that made me fall for her in the first place.
I tend to record semi-profesh demos of the tracks in my bedroom, before I even know if I can perform the song live, then I learn my own song afterwards. Which isn’t ideal, but I also think it allows me to be much more creative with alternate tunings and song structures etc.
Your Debut Single “Before You Go” was selected by Tones and I for the ‘That One Song’ competition and was picked up by Ziggy Alberts. What was it like to have your music nominated by such an iconic artist? How did the proceeding success affect your life?
So Tones ran her comp simultaneously to my first release, and it’d only been out for 1 week when I was isolating in bedroom as a Covid close contact, when all of a sudden I get a call from Tones and I herself! So that day was already an absolute roller coaster, but I’d been able to compare my first week or organic release (being a very fresh artist with no knowledge of how to promote in the industry), and then all of a sudden she posted the song on her story to 700k + followers. I had up to 90 people listening at one time in the hour following that! That whole experience really cemented to me ‘okay, I can be an original artist, I can write and love doing it so that’s what I’m going to do’. If that didn’t happen than I don’t know if I would’ve ever had the courage to take the massive financial leap to record this EP.
Ziggy’s impact was similar in the sense that my audience became really obvious after he put me in his playlist. It confirmed something I was already hoping, that I suited the coastal-folk scene and that’s the direction I was heading.
So both very pivotal moments and my still quite new career as an original artist
You’ve followed in the footsteps of acts like Chet Faker and The Cat Empire, recording your latest tracks at The Aviary Recording Studio in Abbotsford. What was it like to work there? Tell us about your experience in Abbotsford.
When I started looking for a studio, I knew I wanted it to be a world-class professional sound, and I knew it had to be in Melbourne (interstate travel was ruled out from Covid).
Fraser Montgomery got back to me and was genuinely invested in my tracks, gave me feedback on my demos and from the first email I knew he was who I wanted to record with. I had already fleshed out most of the songs in my demo’s pretty thoroughly, so we took on the ambitious task of recording 5 songs in 5 days. Josh Barber (also a very talented audio engineer/ producer etc) laid down the drums on the first day using my demos and then we continued to build all 5 songs, 1 instrument at a time. Ben Franz added bass and lapsteel and I invited my friend Tammy Bonazza (Violin) and Harry Godfrey (Sax) down to help me out as well. Frase lined up Adam Dempsey (Didirri, Angie McMahon) to master the tracks as well. The studio itself is beautiful and Frase had so many amazing ideas on how to enhance each song and suggested little sounds and instruments that I didn’t even know existed. I really loved having him there and encouraged me the whole time.
You are becoming known for your raw storytelling and the emotional range of your songs. Do you write from personal experience? Has your songwriting process changed over the years as you evolve and experience more?
I have always wanted to write songs, but I would be lying if I said it was a natural thing for me to do. I am still relatively new to song-writing (maybe 3 years), but I have always been pretty observant of my own and other people’s emotions, so I think that has guided me in writing. I always thought that you had to write vaguely to not narrow your audience too much, but that couldn’t be further from my attitude now. The more detail, the more it seems people can relate. That was such an important realisation in allowing me to be vulnerable and trusting that the listener will be understanding and kind in return. The songs I personally love listening to are real stories that are told in a way you don’t expect, or have elements of unpredictability, so that’s what I try to incorporate also.
The guitarwork in “Be There Soon” is incredible. I especially love the emotive bridge, and I was wondering how long you’ve been playing the guitar for? Did you get a musical education while growing up, or did you naturally gravitate toward it?
Thank you! I appreciate that a lot because to me, the bridge is almost always the most important aspect to my song. I put the moral of the story here and it’s generally the first sonic element I work on. I wanted the overall instrumentation of the song to represent that feeling of safety and comfort, with a relaxed but pulsing nature, and I love building up the bridge to really bring home the message! It even features some samples of road noise that I recorded on one of the drives to see her when that was a reality.
Growing up I was actually a drummer throughout all of high school but Dad always had guitars lying around the house. My older sister was also right into singing growing up so there was always live music of some kind in the house. I still have absolutely no clue when it comes to music theory, I don’t even know what key my songs are in (sorry to the other musos in the recordings!). I did get a few guitar lessons in year 12 from the most incredible teacher (Jason Giuliani), but otherwise I have mostly taught myself and usually play by ear, so don’t ask me what tuning or chords I’m playing in the bridge!
I know you have an upcoming EP release, what can you tell us about that? What can we expect from you next? Do you have any shows or tour dates coming into Summer and 2022?
I’ve released 2/5 tracks from the upcoming EP now. It’s quite a mixed bag actually. They’re all still very tied together both lyrically or instrumentationally, but there’s a bit of genre shift with a couple of the others. ‘Turquoise’ is a 6/8 tempo ode to the ocean, with almost an Irish jig feel to it, whilst ‘Moving In’ is extremely stripped back and raw. 'Moving in' is actually a favourite of the confidants that I’ve shown the recording to. It actually still makes me quite emotional hearing it back, so I’m a bit more selective on where I perform that one live. It can take a toll on me sometimes. The EP will be released in late Jan/early Feb (once the Christmas carols have stepped aside) and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with everyone!
Thanks again Tom Harrington for the brilliant answers. Music theory means nothing when you can shred this hard. Keen for the EP and especially excited to hear 'Moving In.' Be sure to follow the soulful folk mastermind and keep up to date with all his crooning on your favourite platforms. 'Be There Soon' is out NOW and available everywhere. Go listen to it. Go.