Tom Williams was the students’ Artist in Residence at Leeds Beckett in 2016, recording his new album, All Change, with students in the Leeds Beckett music studios as part of his residency. The first single from the album, Everybody Needs a Home, received its first air play in February, on Steve Lamacq’s BBC Radio 6 Music show and has since been picked up by Lauren Laverne, Huey Morgan and Jo Wiley, amongst others. The new album was mastered at the famous Abbey Road studios and also earned Tom a new record deal with Caroline Records.
Tom is now taking three Leeds Beckett music students out on tour with him, as part of his band, with a date at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on Tuesday 30 May. Tickets are on sale here. Support comes from Leeds Beckett alumna, Cat-Una, with Senior Lecturer in Music, Bob Brazill accompanying her on drums.
The group will be in session with Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday 31 May. Tom also appeared on BBC Radio 6 Music last week, sharing his experience of working with the Leeds Beckett students with Huey Morgan of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
Jake Mehew, Niall Davey, Declan Vink, Iona Chard, Lewis Nolan, Tom Williams, Jack Clayton, Zach Pygall, Ivor Dall’Avanzi
Carl Flattery, Principal Lecturer in Music and Head of Student Experience for the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett, said "We've now had five years of the Artist in Residence programme and it's gone from strength to strength. We've been very lucky to welcome experienced and exciting artists Chris T-T, Ian Prowse, I Monster, Tom Williams and Utah Saints. They've all been happy to give up their time to work closely with our students and give them a taste of what it is like to work on a professional music project. They've all been great but Tom's has probably been the most successful. Something just clicked between him and the students and within a week they'd pretty much finished an album and it sounds amazing. He's now taken the students on tour with him and they're having the time of their lives and gaining valuable experience."
Tom Williams said: “The time I spent at Leeds Beckett last year really did change my life. The students I met and recorded with not only proved to be fantastic folks but also incredibly skilled players and engineers. I can't wait for the world to hear what a special album we made together.”
Working on the album as Chief Engineer and Assistant Engineer were BA (Hons) Music Production graduates, Lewis Nolan and Zach Pygall, who completed their degrees, following the residency, in summer 2016. Performing were Music Production students: Niall Davey (guitar), Jake Mehew (piano), and Igor Dall’Avanzi (bass), who is now studying an MSc in Sound and Music for Interactive Games; BA (Hons) Music Production and Performance students, Iona Chard (backing vocals) and Laurenne Lethbridge (flute), and 2016 graduate Jack Clayton (drums); and 2016 BA (Hons) Filmmaking graduate, Declan Vink (guitar). Jack, Ivor and Jake are now accompanying Tom on his tour.
The songs were engineered by Music Production students Samuel Holtom and Ruairi Doherty, and BSc (Hons) Music Technology students, Stanley Braddock, Callum Kewen, and Keir McCabe.
Tom Williams, courtesy of Nick Ballon Photography
Zach Pygall said: “Working on the Tom Williams project was incredible. The lecturers would always tell us stories about how volunteering could lead to bigger things. I didn't think it would happen like this though. They were long days of hard work but it was all worth it to hear something I recorded playing back to me through the car radio on my way home. Hopefully this becomes a regular occurrence!”
Ivor Dall’Avanzi commented: “The time spent in the studio with Tom and the others was one of the best experiences I’ve had. The people, the vibe, the energy: everything was right, and we all wanted to do our best. The effort, the dedication and the hours spent in the studio are now something real, and it is really exciting that people will now listen to what we have made!”
Iona Chard said: “I applied for the workshop hoping to gain experience as a session musician and it soon developed into a project we were all passionate and excited about as a group. It was surreal to hear the songs develop from Tom singing with his guitar to a recorded full band in just a few hours and helped me understand how to make the best of a short space of studio time as a singer/songwriter.”
Declan Vink added: “What we created with Tom Williams over the course of last year is truly something unique and special and the friendships and memories made in the process even more so. Personally making this record was a life changer for me. I was studying Filmmaking at Leeds Beckett when I received the opportunity to record a few songs with Tom Williams. One thing led to another and we ended up making a full length record and the process had me so fascinated that I changed course to Music Production, which I'm currently studying now. I can't wait to see where this record goes; it's destined for great things.”
All Change has already received high praise in reviews by The Guardian and the Sunday Express.
Tom returned to Leeds Beckett in January to make a short film in the music studio, featuring interviews with the students and telling the story of the making of the album. In honour of the experience, Tom has even included Leeds Beckett’s Great Hall as the album’s cover image.
Another album, recorded by Leeds Beckett Senior Lecturers in Music, Sam Nicholls and Dr Paul Thompson, has coincidentally been released on the same day (Friday 26 May). Leeds musician Sam Airey recorded his first album, In Darkened Rooms, in the University studios. You can stream or download the album here. Sam will be supporting Tom Williams at the Lexington in London on Wednesday 31 May.