Interview – Part 1 of 3
To celebrate the release of Amitie, the second album by Stewart Lindsey (Dave Stewart and Thomas Lindsey) I was given the opportunity to speak to both artists at length about this new project, but also to fill in some back story.
Part 1 is my interview with Thomas leading up to talking about Amitie, Part 2 will be our interview with Dave Stewart and part 3 will be our exclusive track by track run through with Thomas.
Tell Your Story With More than Words!
Thomas and I have a shared career in IT, and as I join him in his home during lockdown, we have an instant connection and feel at ease chatting with each other. Thomas notices some of the Eurythmics posters on the wall behind me and we talk about their music for a while before we get to start our chat.
We start by talking about Thomas’s musical influences
When I started listening to music when I was a small child, I listened to a country artist Riba McIntyre, my vocal range is that of a female singer, so most of my favourite singers are all female. That transitioned to Cher when I got older and I can sing like her.
In 1999 Eurythmics did the Peace Tour, they came on TV around the time Woodstock was happening. Annie sat at the piano and sang Sweet Dreams, Dave came out with his guitar and to me they were these mysterious people that were so cool, in their camouflage outfits. I thought oh my god what is this, I had an immediate connection to that freakin song, then they played Here Comes The Rain Again.
I purchased Peace, then imported the Box Set from Europe. I was born in 1987 so it was pretty much all over by the time I discovered them, so I had to go backwards and rush and try to collect everything. The more I listen to them, the more I love them. I was in Junior High at that time, I was wearing camo all year long. I was a Eurythmic!
I played the Peacetour DVD over and over. I fell in love with them even more, there was a gospel and blues roots sound to that concert. I loved it all, and that started me on a journey in finding out more about who had musically influenced Dave and Annie.
My Switch was turned on
I didn’t really listen to Motown so I dug in there and really discovered some amazing artists like Stevie Wonder.
Somewhere along the line I got into The Blues, I’d listened to the blues, but I had never thought to stop and ask who are the masters of The Blues and when I did that it was amazing. But I didn’t really start writing songs until about 10 years ago , before that I just loved singing other peoples songs.
My boss of 15 years told me one day in his office that I should write music, not just sing it, and I told him I don’t do that, I can’t. I told him he was crazy, and we fought but I went home and guess what, I wrote a song.
Part of me was very happy, but the other part of me was unhappy as I had to go back to my boss and “eat crow” (humiliation by admitting having been proven wrong after taking a strong position).
I had to do that, but I didn’t start properly writing until I actually discovered Jazz. It was Nina Simone, I stumbled across her while looking for musicians that had covered House of The Rising Sun.
It was then that I realised that this was my writing style and my switch was turned on. To me Jazz had always been the music in the elevator, I didn’t know that Jazz could be that hardcore and infuse all these feelings, then that opened the door to Ella Fitzgerald and more.
I ask Thomas if he ever shared his writing with anyone, or was it something he just kept to himself. Thomas revealed that his friends kept telling him that his songs were good and that he should go try to get on The Voice, and that’s what he did.
When I stepped into the lobby where they were doing the trials, I instantly knew that I did not belong there. They were looking for pop music and pop stars, and you come and do the show and compete which felt wrong as I don’t like to use my voice in a competitive way, to me my voice is a spiritual thing, it is a connection to god, and it is a fun thing.
It has never been about hey listen to me, I want to listen to the other players just as much, and whether that is just in a garage or on a stage, I just love the fun of performing. Luckily The Voice didn’t like me, and think I would have hated it had they selected me.
I truly believe everything happens for a reason, I truly think the lord was sending me the message to say “hey this place isn’t for you.”
So I put it on the shelf as an experience.
YOU CANT DO THAT THOMAS
So I started to think about who would I want to work with, and honestly, the only person I really wanted to work with was Dave Stewart. I saw the way he worked with Stevie Nicks where she gave him her book of poetry, and he said sing.
Their album In Your Dreams is an amazing combination of Dave’s music and Stevie’s songwriting. I thought, well that could be me, I have my book of poetry and songs, why not, that would be fantastic, to do.
Everyone around me said “You are crazy, you can’t just go and contact these people”. Maybe they were right, but I went on Twitter and sent Dave a few of my songs, and I felt I could trust his opinion as my favourite artist.
He wrote back to me, and he said he liked it, and said we should do something together. It actually frightened me to start with, I had to ask myself Is This What You Want? You’ve opened the box now, are you sure you want to be part of the music industry, because that industry scares the crap out of me, but Dave made me feel very comfortable.
He has given me such good advice, and I trust him, He tells me the more people you bring on tour, the poorer you’ll be, he’s very honest, he didn’t promise we would get rich, I just wanted to make music.
IF YOU DO THAT, I’LL DRAG YOU OFF THE STAGE
He knew very much that I don’t even think of myself as an artist, I still don’t I was tested when Dave wanted me to travel. I certainly don’t like hotel rooms, and maybe that’s because I’m from the south in Louisiana, where everyone knows each other, and maybe that’s what I don’t like, when I’m taken away from home and dropped down somewhere that I don’t know, I feel cut off. I wish we had teleporters to bring me home each night after a gig.
So I went to Los Angles to play at one of Dave Stewart and Friends concerts, I’d never even been on an aeroplane before, never left the state without a family member before, I held it together until I got to the hotel, then I felt like crying when I got to the hotel room. For the first day, I was too frightened to leave, I did not even go out to get food. I just ate the cereal I had brought with me!
Finally, Dave said, come on you’ve got to come to rehearsals, I was scared to death as I don’t play instruments, so I don’t feel like a proper artist. You know I wrote everything acapela or with GarageBand on the iPad, It’s great to help with chords. I said to Dave that I feel like I have to apologise to everyone, and he said to me if you do that, I’ll drag you off the stage, you go out here and you do it.
So he gave me the kick in the rear I needed and I said OK, so I went out, but still wasn’t sure how people in California were going to take this boy from Louisiana because I sing the blues, but they loved it, the audience were very kind to me. I couldn’t believe it, here I was in the middle of California far far from home and everyone liked what I was doing.
So we ended up doing the album Spitballin, I didn’t know we were doing an album, and it wasn’t really real to me until we had finished and I held the vinyl in my hands. For ever and ever, I can say I did it, I have the record, and I followed my dream, no-one can ever take that away from me now. You can’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. But it really is true, People told me that you have to play bars for 10 to 20 years, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
People ask me how I feel about what I’ve done, and some struggling performers ask how do you get heard, there’s so many people out there recording music, it’s difficult to stand out, and people looking at me may get disappointed, this ginger haired kid, but you have to love what you are creating for the love of it first.
So the whole process of writing Spitballin was different, even when I went to Dave’s studio I still felt that I was a burden to people working with us, I find I work much better by myself, I don’t want to waste peoples time, or annoying them with trying different things, even though his guys with the mixers aren’t angry with me.
But I feel that if I want to take 20 takes at home, that’s fine, its my time. So Dave sent me a track over and I recorded some vocals over it, and he went, hey that works, so he sent me another over and we kept going back and forwards and before we knew it we had an album done.
It did not feel at all that we were in different places, I had all the time in the world, but Dave will challenge me, and send me things to record over, and I think to myself, I can’t do that, that’s not my style., I can’t sing over that., I’ll go for a walk outside and work it out, I love those challenges, especially the ones that are vocally challenging. so I would come back and I would write something and say no, that’s trash and throw it away, and then it will com
Leave This Town was written to the track Look At Those Flames, I’d come home from a hard day and wrote it, I sent it to Dave and we both love Look At Those flames, but he said give me 10 minutes and 10 minutes later he sent it back to me and I was just blown away, it was freaking amazing and that’s my favourite song on the album.
A lot of the times I write, I start with an idea, and then the song turns into something all on its own and goes in ad different direction., That song though stayed exactly how I felt at the exact moment and you cannot interpret it any other way. That’s song takes me straight back to that feeling every time I hear it. I wanted that song so bad to be the first song, it explains exactly how I felt.
YOU’RE COMING TO LONDON
Coming to London was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done, you take anyone and put them somewhere where their money doesn’t work, their cell phone doesn’t work and your family can’t pop over and help you out.
I don’t know how Dave managed to convince me to come. I met a lot of industry people in London and they were giving me so much advice. I said to them, offering me studios and all that/ I told them it doesn’t matter where I make my music, I don’t need to be in a huge recording studio. They couldn’t really understand that I was there just to make music, you know I have a job, I have a career, my music is my passion, but they didn’t understand that.
Music is my release, if I get stressed out at work, I can come home and write songs, I do wonder if I didn’t have these push and pulls at work if I would even write the songs that I do during the day.
We turn the conversation to Amitie and we go through the album track by track, you can read about this in Part 2 coming soon.