An interview with: Lewis Watson

Having recently released his new album, 'Midnight' we spoke to Oxford singer songwriter Lewis Watson  and talked about touring, his SXSW experience, before he hit the stage at a jam packed Bodega in Nottingham.

So, how has tour been so far?
It’s been great. This album is so much fun to play, it really transitions well on stage.

Great, so it’s gone down well with the crowd?
Yeah it’s been cool because the album’s only been out for a week, and so the newer songs people are starting to catch on to, and you can see them half way through being like oh I know this one! It’s really cool, it’s like a little game to see who has listened to the album. But we’re playing a load of old songs as well, and it’s been really great to shine a new light on them because we’ve got an extra member now, and so with the extra guitars we can really bring so much more to live shows, so yeah it’s been super fun, and tonight’s the last night, but Nottingham is always a great night, so should be great.

How was 2Q Festival?
Really good! I’ve never been to Derby before but it was really pretty! I’m not saying that Derby is a bunghole or anything like that, but for some reason I didn’t paint it as a pretty town, but it was a really nice town. But 2Q was great, I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve done a few city festivals of that kind, and some are great and some are tough because they put out an overcrowded line up, and so everybody wants to be everywhere, and so you get every room a quarter full, and everyone is trying to be everywhere. But, 2Q was done really well, we had a full room, in a beautiful venue. We had half an hour and we just played the greatest hits, and yeah I feel like the response was great. We went out after as well, even though I’m not actually drinking this month, so these shows have been much easier, but yeah we had a few drinks and I had a kebab so yeah it was a pretty diluted night out, but a great day.

What was it like only playing half an hour as opposed to the full set you’re used to?
It’s so much less work, it’s weird because we play an hour and a quarter usually, but playing half an hour was like oh is that it? I’m not knackered why am I not knackered? But yeah it was still a great day. I went and saw a few other acts so that was great.

Who did you manage to catch?
So Jordan Mackampa, he supported me on our last tour, he’s just a wonderful person. We saw ten tonnes, Will Joseph Cook who was before us, we went to see Hannah Lou Clark as well, and then Ben Leftwich, and I hadn’t seen Ben in ages, I supported him a while back, and it was so nice to see him he’s such a nice guy. So yeah, it was great, it was such a varied line up, which is something that I really appreciate with festivals.

So, with the new album, what’s your favourite song?
That’s literally like picking your favourite child. It changes, so at the moment it’s track three, a song called Deep Blue Water. It’s a song I kind of feel like I needed to write. I’m rubbish at telling people how I feel, and so I bottle it up, and I bottled kind of this feeling that I had that this song is written about for years, and it was weighing heavy on me at the end, and so when I wrote that song it was a real release. I always write songs for therapy, and so this one felt like a super good session with a psychiatrist. And so now when I sing that song it’s like I’m reliving the experience but from an outer body, and so it’s quite painful to sing but at the same time it’s wonderful. It’s especially good on this tour because we’re playing it as a full band, for months I’ve been playing it alone so it’s great, even though I love playing these songs solo because that’s how I write them, but it really shines a new light when there’s a full band playing, it’s the whole experience.

So after the UK, you’re on to Europe, and then Aus right?
Europe, America and then Australia, although last month I was in America and Australia, and then went back to America for SXSW.

How was that?
It was great, that is 2Q on steroids. You couldn’t even get into most of the rooms. Queues start so early in the morning! I played a radio slot at 7am and people were queuing at 1am, it was crazy, especially to see someone play three songs. So, it was me, The Japanese House, Maggie Rodgers and Hanson, and people queued 6 hours to see us. It was knackering, that day I had a gig at 7am and 10pm, so that was only two shows but some of the artists had 8 or 9 shows, which is crazy.

I can imagine that was intense!
Yeah, it was very intense. I actually played 6 states in 6 days on that trip, and so I was knackered.

What have you been listening to recently before shows in the dressing room?
I have a weekly playlist on Spotify which has like 550 songs on it, but at the minute I’m loving this Australian guy called DD Dumbo, his album is called 'Utopia Defeated', it’s incredible. He sounds like sting but it’s like Sting grew up listening to Jeff Buckley and indie music, it’s honestly incredible. I definitely recommend him, if you’re genuinely into music definitely listen. There’s also a band called Microwave, if you can go see them they’re incredible. Their album 'Much Love' is amazing, it’s got the sweet soft indie rock, and then quite heavy elements as well, which is what im into.

I read the other day that you’re a big fan of Trophy Eyes? Stylistically very different to you, which is really interesting.
A: Yeah I’m really into them at the moment, and very recently as well State Champs. My drummer loves them, and he showed them to me the other day. Honestly, that guys live vocals are incredible, his voice is unreal. So yeah, recently, a lot of pop punk.That Trophy Eyes album is insane. But yeah, whenever we’re in the van, there’s a lot of pop punk being played.

Finally, which has been the standout date on this run? Hometown maybe?
Hometown show was obviously great, but it was in a church, which only basically had house lights. It felt like a village hall, which kind of put me in the back foot. But it’s always great because it means my family and friends who I haven’t seen for months can come out and support me, which is amazing to see. But yeah the biggest standout date so far has been Bristol, it was album release day and everyone was dancing and singing. I’d say it was one of my favourite shows ever, people literally sang every word. It was incredible, I loved it, especially since I was so anxious about the album’s reception.

Interview by Cait Briggs