Sunday 14 May 2017

The Scott Lloyd Interview

The work of Scott Lloyd has featured several times here at Marsh Towers (most recently with this review) and today we are delighted to present an exclusive interview with the man himself.
All images in this article are © Scott Lloyd

How did it all start? How did you become interested in music? 

Probably back when I was a young lad, around the age of 10/11 I suddenly decided I wanted to learn how to play the saxophone. My dad was a Frank Sinatra fan and I got into big band and swing music from him listening to that sort of music. I loved the music and the melody of the tunes. Those old American classics really are masterpieces in songwriting, and that’s what fuelled my passion I guess. 

From then on, from being able to play the saxophone a bit, I joined the Cleveland Youth Swing Band in Middlesbrough and stayed with them for a few years. We gigged in a number of venues around the north east area; it was good fun. 

When I turned 16 I took a step away from playing the saxophone so much and started getting into rock/indie music. Me and my mates used to send songs to each other on MSN Messenger; great days. I think I remember getting my first taste of the music that would really shape my taste of that time. My friend Jamie would send me real stand out classics like 'My Generation', 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', 'Back in Black' etc. It was my education of sorts to catch up with the wealth of rock music I didn’t know about from the past. 

Then I became a big Libertines fan when my friend Andrew played 'What Katie Did' in my mate Tom’s garage, a regular haunt for us, that. I started a band in college called The Blends and from then on became interested in songwriting. 

Then at university I learned the singer-songwriter craft and got into solo artists like Dylan, Neil Young, Bowie etc. That was the real game changer for me which, I guess, has brought me to this point now. It’s been good. 

What about the rest of your family? Are any others interested in music? 

Other than my dad, my uncle plays the saxophone well. He taught me to play those first few years I was leaning. Most of us in our family enjoying listening to good music and always have a good soundtrack when we have family gatherings. But, I’d say my dad really shaped my taste in music and got me off the mark in terms of inspiration. 

I guess I was a little creative lad and I just managed to find and really glue with music. Nothing moves me like music does. 

When did you write your first song? 

It’d be around the time I was in The Blends, my band at the age of 15/16. I remember writing a tune called 'Good Times' very early on and I think I wrote it up on the computer and printed it off. I was very proud of it. I was about just me and my mates all having a good time, from what I remember. Nothing flash. But, I wrote all the time for the band so I guess it must’ve been around that time I really got into song-writing. 

When did you get your first guitar? 

My mum bought me the first guitar from Middlesbrough Music Centre when I was about 14. I didn’t want to be a guitarist, I just wanted something to play chords from and write songs. All my favourite bands at the time used guitars to it just seemed natural to want one. 

I remember not being interested in being a guitarist though, I never had guitar lessons, haven’t had any since. I learned to play from just using the internet to work out where the chord positions were and to find out the chords/lyrics to my favourite songs. The first full song I learned was ‘What a Waster’ by The Libertines, its only four or five chords throughout so I managed to get that nailed quickly. 

Then I just carried on doing that, learning my favourite songs. I got a bit better on the guitar and got a bit better at singing. The guitar was a red Westfield acoustic; wasn’t the best but it did the job. 

Do you play any other instruments apart from guitar and saxophone? 

Around the time I got into rock/indie music age 15/16, my dad randomly bought a drum kit, I think mainly because he wanted a new hobby. He bought a drum kit and put it upstairs in our house. He had a few years of lessons and I just started messing about on it, inadvertently learning how to play the drums. I became a drummer before I even thought about getting a guitar. 

I was in one or two little jam bands throughout school. Nothing serious, just playing covers and having a bit of fun I guess. I loved playing the drums though. It was incredible to make sounds and rhythms like that. 

My heroes were Keith Moon and John Bonham. I had a few lessons but never really enjoyed them from what I remember. It took the fun out of it for me. I wanted to just play how I wanted to play. Rudiments and rules just made it boring and stressful, I played with my friends and sang where I could. 

Other than that I guess I know the notes on a piano, oh and the harmonica! 

When and where was your first performance? 

The first gig we had in my first proper band, The Blends, was at a place called Liberty’s in Middlesbrough around 2006. We played there with another band called the Lexingtons, the guitarist from that band worked with me at McDonald’s at the time and he managed to get us on the bill. Great stuff. 

Me and the band rallied all our friends and we had a pretty big crowd, everyone was going nuts! Properly jumping around and singing along. It’s one of my favourite memories, that. We had an absolute ball. 

That feeling gave me a taste for performing live; I still love it to this day, especially with my backing band. 
What comes first in your songs? Is it the music or the lyrics? 

It’s very naturally, nothing is ever forced. If I’m not feeling it or straining to rhyme words or find a melody I put the guitar down straight away. 

Sometimes I have the lyrics written on my phone or at least a few lines I like that I have thought of while out an about somewhere, and then sometimes I don’t have any lyrics and just start jamming with chords and messing about. 

I find the harmonica is a good way to find a nice melody sometimes, I just strum chords in a certain key and then improvise on the harmonica. A song from my new EP, 'Cornish Coast', came from the riff I had. The opening guitar lick came when I was messing about on an electric guitar I’ve got. I really liked the little sound from hammering on and off a string quickly, it gave a little ‘twiddling’ sound that you hear quite a lot in folk music. From that riff I started singing, no idea the song would be about Cornwall and have the sentiment it did, but it just came from nowhere. I had the song written over a few days I think, very simple and very naturally. 

Similar to ‘Wild Flower’ I just started playing the chords and started singing, that’s all it was. I sang words that naturally came out and changed chords naturally. Absolutely nothing was preconceived. I think the best songs come out that like. 

My favourite songs of my own come like that; 'Picture in my Mind', 'What Have I Gotta Do', 'God I Say', 'Somewhere' and 'Long Live You' have all come out of the blue. 

I’m a firm believer that if you catch an idea when its just emerging you capture it in its purist form, in all art forms, it always works because its natural and unhindered from any sort of criticism and influence, it’s the defining point in any idea. 
'In the Garden' brings the addition of a band. Is the band here to stay or temporary detour from your solo acoustic work? 

I tend to just work on what is happening at that point in my life. Don’t try to think too far ahead, although it is hard to not resist thinking about where I’d like to go with my music, I do try to remain in the moment. The band has opened so many avenues for me now. I’ve gone from being an intimate-only singer to the potential to play on stages with other bands with a big sound. 

I couldn’t thank the lads enough. Andy, Iain and Dave are great players, the best I’ve performed with, and they understand the direction I’m not only coming from but the idea I’m heading to in terms of sound. We’ve got the full band EP launch at Gulliver’s in Manchester on Saturday 27th May...
...and then a festival slot at Eroica festival in Buxton. There will be a few more announcements to come but I’m leaving it at that for now. It’s going to be great. 

I hope to play with the lads for years to come I guess, but you never know what’s coming. 

What are your musical aims in both the short and long term? 

Short term I think it’s to try and write great songs and try to let people hear them as best I can. I’d love to make a big career from doing this but it’s early days and I really am just enjoying it right now. If I set myself goals I’m going to stress about achieving them. So, keeping it simple for now is the best idea. 

What is your opinion on the so-called reality talent TV shows? 

At first I thought they were harmless, other than ruining some great songs, it just seemed like junk telly. However, as time goes by, I think its ruining a live music scene for upcoming acts. The general public aren’t going to go out looking for new acts if they’ve just got a multi-million pound production on there TV with some singers who want to make it big. 

The real, down to earth artists are lost in the wild world of small venues with only a certain selection of music fans. That’s all well and good but I do believe X Factor has ‘dumbed down’ as what people think music is. They think its flash and cheap. It doesn’t help unsigned acts at all. 

But then again, if you’re looking for an audience who is sitting in on a Saturday night your goal posts need to be shifted a bit. Each to their own though, I guess. I just wish they had unsigned, good music on television more often these days.

Thank you, Scott!
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