She wanted to be a punk rocker (with flowers in her hair). Now Sandi Thom returns with a second album The Pink And The Lily. The Scot talks to us about the media circus surrounding her start, her basement and The Proclaimers.
You’ll remember Sandi Thom from her breakthrough hit “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker”. Or maybe you found her before that, during her 21 Nights From Tooting showcase where she played from her basement for three straight weeks, streamed over the web. She had the music industry banging down her door – literally. Well now she returns with her second record, The Pink And The Lily.
How were you feeling on the 21st night?
It was so long ago now. A bit sad that it would be over and a bit happy that it would be over. During the 21 nights, the first week was quite calm, week two brought crazy media attention and then week three was out of control. When I think back it was all one blur because it was so weird and surreal. The 21st night, I guess it was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
You all live together right?
My drummer and guitarist used to sleep on a mattress in the kitchen while me and my tour manager, who is my best friend… she slept with me so it was proper student living. My manager would walk over Craig and Marcus and put the kettle on. So when the world’s media arrived at the same time they just took over the place. I remember waking up at one point and seeing a guy run a cable from my house to a news van outside. It was like “what the hell is going on?” It was mad, but it was cool.
I imagine it like the “mega-happy ending” of Wayne’s World, where Mr Biggg, Frankie Sharpe of Sharpe Records signs you at your house.
It was a bit like that. It was similar to Wayne’s basement. I have had the experience of showcasing to labels and the likelihood of them leaving their offices is slim, let alone turning up to your house, that’s an entirely different thing. So of course we were basking in it slightly and [we] engineered it so they’d all come on the same day. They were all rivals standing there in my kitchen and one at a time I would have them come down and I’m sure they were as intimidated as we were because they’re not used to being cornered in the situation. They were taken out of their comfort zone at the back of a club.
You toured with the Proclaimers – what was that like?
That was brilliant. It was one of the first supports tours I did. In the end you can tell them apart. They are quite different character-wise. Charlie is clean cut and he drinks honey and lemon and is good to himself while Craig is a bit more of a rogue, drinking and smoking. We played to great audiences, their fans are mental. I’ve kept in touch with a lot of their crew, you know, seeing Buddy the guitar tech on the festival circuit is like old times.
How do you feel Pink And The Lily differs from Smile… It Confuses People?
It’s similar in that it’s a very honest reflection of the time that has passed. The songs have been collected over the last two years and it took about the same time to put together. Production-wise we used strings and horns so the sound is a bit fuller than Smile… has. I think it’s also more of an insight into me. There’s been a lot emotional ups and downs that have inspired me.
You recorded The Pink And The Lily back in the basement. It can’t be the same as I’m imagining?
It pretty much is, it’s just got more expensive equipment in it. The boys, Jake and Duncan and I, we all live in the house together and they are The Mighty Vibrations who produced my album and they are working producers and Jake is my boyfriend so it’s all a little nuts. When I was out touring and coming home with material it made so much more sense to record it there. It doesn’t look in anyway different, except the computer software is a little more expensive. There’s a dartboard, and it smells – it’s a London basement basically. You’ve got to stop recording when you hear the tube going by.
After the media circus of the first record, do you think this will be a harder sell?
Well I don’t know. It could go one way or the other and I wouldn’t want to say. I think it’s good for me because I did an unplugged tour that I just finished that. It wasn’t to prove a point but I did want to say I can still play with my guitar and just me, there’s no strings attached. And that will always remain the reason why I do it. It’s not to be a celebrity. I’m not in Heat Magazine falling over pissed all the street.
It does amazing things for your career.
Oh yeah. I’d sell millions. It’s quite a good opportunity to wipe the slate clean a little bit of any negative media attitudes and have it all about the music – which at the end of the day is what’s important. People find fame through different avenues, be it online or through Australian Idol, but at the end of the day it’s about the music.
The Pink And The Lily is out on Sony/BMG.