Indie pop’s cheeky wonder gone Down Under (then back again), Thomas Headon’s new EP ‘Victoria’ sees him stepping up to the plate like never before. All of which seems a good reason for a catch up, if only we can get him to concentrate on the matter in hand…
Words: Abigail Firth. Photos: Jordan Curtis Hughes.
What better way to spend Valentine’s evening than having a natter with indie heartthrob Thomas Headon?
It takes about 20 minutes to get around to even mentioning his upcoming EP ‘Victoria’ because we’re deep in discussion about what we’re doing for Valentine’s Day and which bit of the UK was his favourite to visit on his recent tour.
“Fuck that whole argument about North and South because I mean, I get it if you’re from here, but the North is really cool,” he says. Moving to London from just outside of Melbourne a little before the pandemic hit, he’s just about made his way around his adoptive home country.
A Guinness in Ireland, and Irn-Bru in Scotland and 15 tour dates later – most of which sold out before he’d even played a live show at all – and it seems the excitement hasn’t died down yet for Thomas. “It got to even the day of every show, and I still wouldn’t believe that it was going to happen,” he says of the constant cycle of getting excited about a show and not knowing if the tour would be able to go ahead.
“I think the weirdest thing was, because of the constant excitement and not gonna happen [feeling], it just kept getting bigger and bigger. First, it was a really fucking big tour. A lot of people had to explain to me that you don’t normally do 17 dates; you do like six or eight. So it was quite a lot, but it was fun. And I really like touring; I think that’s like the most fun part of what I do.”
His interest in music is largely down to his sister, who took him to small gigs of then-tiny artists she’d discovered on Tumblr in the early 2010s; the likes of The 1975, twenty one pilots and Ed Sheeran. He picked up the guitar after noticing how quickly those artists shot to fame.
“My sister was taking me to 100 cap shows that were then like, within a year’s time 1000 cap to within a year’s time 5000 cap. It became super attainable because to me, the image of the person was still in a 100 cap room.”
And that’s exactly what Thomas is doing. Divine timing meant his move to London lined up with a TikTok boom – the platform where he found the most success after years of posting music to YouTube – and a global pandemic where he’d spend almost two years building up an online fanbase, releasing music and waiting to take both IRL.
“The shows before this tour were really small; they were so chill. But for these ones, I felt like Justin Bieber”Thomas Headon
“The small number of shows I’ve done before this tour were really small; they were so chill. But for these ones, I felt like Justin Bieber. There were fucking security guards that, like, their job was to make sure I was comfortable and safe. Which is amazing and incredible, but at the same time, they were constantly just like, ‘are you okay? Are you uncomfortable?’ And I was like, I don’t know! I got to meet a lot of people, but it was kind of scary at times and rushed. I do like meeting people, though, and I don’t want to ever stop doing that.”
Going into 2022, Thomas is armed with a new EP, his first release in almost a year. ‘Victoria’ sheds any last traces of his bedroom pop beginnings and builds something bigger. It’s concert-ready and darker in places, particularly on the title-track, which centres around a heartfelt story about a friend of his who passed away.
“I went through a bit of a crisis after my second EP, and I think I relearnt how I like making music and the music I want to make. The result is I didn’t release music for like 11 months, and then you know, just spent time – this is really deep sorry, but – I very much learned how to write based on proper personal experience.
“I say this about every EP, but I think it is genuinely, for the first time, a real personal, honest, in-depth account of my life for, not even the past 11 months, kind of the past two years – in and out of relationships and friends that come and go, it’s wild. I think it’s my favourite thing I’ve done so far.”
While the process might have changed, a lot of the influences haven’t. Largely sitting alongside the work of his indie boy contemporaries, ‘Victoria’ also has hints of The 1975 at their most ballad-y (think ‘Robbers’ and ‘A Change of Heart’) and a clear potential to go arena-sized (which BTW, he’ll do later this year when he supports Sigrid on tour).
“I grew up in a town an hour and a bit outside of Melbourne. Funnily enough, it is quite represented in this EP. It’s very much small town vibes, where, you know, everyone’s cousin’s a drug dealer, and no one knows anyone that does anything besides work as a plumber. Oh, God, I can’t say that. That’s so rude.”
To be honest, it’s hard to take anything Thomas says as rude. He’s cheeky, yes, and effortlessly charming, and both are traits that he pulls through into his songwriting, penning little love stories and delivering them with a Matty Healy via Charlie from Busted (what a comparison to make in 2022) vocal.
Maybe that’s how he convinced his mum to let him move halfway across the globe at 18 to pursue his music dreams, instead of going to university (he was a child prodigy, you know, won a maths award in Year 10 and everything). Luckily for mum, he’s won the bet and then some.
“She’s very proud. I don’t think she has any clue how anything works, like money-wise. I mean, I don’t either, to be honest, but I feel like anytime I tell her I’m doing something, I’m like, ‘oh, I’m flying to this place where we’re doing a music video’, or I talk about like, a tour manager, she’s always just like, ‘so who’s paying for this?’ It’s me somehow? But I don’t think she gets it at all. I think she thinks I’m secretly a drug dealer on the side. I’m not, mum.”
After spending the last couple of years relegated to his bedroom, Thomas is ready to see the world (he mentions he’s jet-lagged from being in LA and New York; in a couple of days, he’d be jetting off to Paris), and you know, the world should be ready to see Thomas too. In an era of indie sad boys, he’s a big lovesick puppy slobbering all over.
“This is one of the first times I’ve ever felt that it was like therapy in writing it. It was absolutely a release, and that’s what I wanted it to be. That’s what I’ve got. Maybe my next record will be the unrelease. Maybe I’ll just lie.”
Taken from the April 2022 edition of Dork, out now. Thomas Headon’s EP ‘Victoria’ is out now.