With a brand new collection of six songs he thinks you’ll rather like, and a headline slot at Dork’s Day Out this August coming up, THOMAS HEADON is just enjoying the vibes.
Words: Abigail Firth.
Photos: Jennifer McCord.
We’re only five minutes into our chat, and Thomas Headon is already saying, “we’re getting really deep now”, and talking about how time isn’t real. Ironically, this is rather philosophical for a pop star who’s recently dropped all of the ‘deep’ stuff and is instead just focusing on having a nice time.
About to release his ridiculously titled new EP ‘Six Songs That Thomas Headon Likes And Thinks You Would Like Too’, he’s clearly in the business of silliness, a sharp pivot from how seriously he was taking himself on last year’s ‘Victoria’.
The EP comes off the back of a big ol’ year for Thomas, where he went on three tours – one solo, one co-headlined with Alfie Templeman and another supporting Sigrid – played the festival circuit, including an appearance at BST Hyde Park on a lineup personally curated by headliner Elton John(?!), and released the ‘Victoria’ EP, which charted at Number 23 on release and became the highest charting EP of last year.
You might think the poor lad is knackered, but he actually has the boundless energy of an E-numbered-up 7-year-old (he is genuinely more energetic than the golden Labrador that joins us in the studio today) and cannot sit still for the interview, intermittently chomping on a Pret baguette.
But for all of the accomplishments, Thomas is feeling pretty humble about it all.
“Elton John. That was fucking weird,” he says. “Was that a highlight of last year? I think so. I had a really big year without realising I had a really big year. In 2021, if you had told me all those things happened, I would be like, oh shit, that’s crazy. But looking back now, I’m just like, yeah, that happened. That’s my job.”
He’s sort of processing it all as he talks about it, although stepping into this new release cycle and getting asked about it is probably the first time he’s been able to think about it properly. This is where he starts to explain that time is going too fast, and he was promised there wouldn’t be a lot of touring this year.
“I don’t tend to look back on things and be like, wow. I’m just full of gratefulness,” he says half-mockingly. “Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. I’m just here to vibe. I think all of these things, I’m so lucky to have happened, but I’m not looking towards the rest of the year being like, my goals are this and this. I think if you expect too much, you get disappointed. That sounds really negative, but I am enjoying it.”
“I had a really big year without realising I had a really big year”Thomas Headon
It’s been over a year since he released ‘Victoria’, an EP that was more consciously indie-leaning and lyrically felt uber-personal, spanning topics from secret love stories through to the death of a friend. At the time, it was a change of pace from the giddiness of his earliest releases, but now he’s getting back to himself.
“I think because the last one was so personal, I cared so much about the way I put it out and presented myself and all the content around it, I feel like I lost a part of me. If you looked at me during that time, it was very, like, ‘I’m so serious’, which is just not me at all. With this one, I’m proud of them being my songs more so because I’m like, it just sounds good. I’m not sitting here like, it’s a deep story about when I met my cousin Timmy in the mountains; I made this song with people I like, and it sounds good.”
The six songs that make up the EP weren’t initially intended as such. In the spirit of making music more playfully, rather than it being written on the guitar in his room, he wrote this EP spontaneously with friend and previous collaborator Taka Perry.
Although born in London, Thomas grew up in Melbourne before moving back to the UK capital in 2019 to pursue music. He still calls Melbourne home, though, and when he visits (two weeks is more than enough, he says), he crams some time into work. On this occasion, he travelled home for Christmas and flew up to Sydney to spend a week in the studio with Taka.
He’d finally released ‘Georgia’ – a track that’d been played live time and time again throughout his rigorous 2022 touring schedule and demanded by fans – in November and didn’t have any plans for it beyond the single release, but it found it’s way onto an EP by the start of 2023.
“We played it in soundcheck before it was released. Then we played it on live streams, played it here, there, everywhere, and it was never spoken about at all as to be released, but then it came out, and it was one of those things that was a gut feel – like it was meant to come out and be there.”
He decided to pull it into a full project shortly before the release of ‘I Loved A Boy’, which is easily the ‘deepest’ track here, and his Taylor-Swift-ified sung-from-someone-else’s-perspective moment.
“It’s weird because I like the song, but I don’t see it in the same way. I don’t personally get really excited by it because I don’t relate to it. I wrote that in Australia with Taka one morning after I had a coffee with my friend Emily and she cried to me in a Starbucks. But I’m so shit at giving advice; I can give sympathy, sure, but advice I’m so shit at giving. The worst thing was I think she was asking for advice, and I was like, I don’t know, here’s the music!”
Also on the EP are the big summer bop ‘W4NNA DO’ (which opens with the second milk reference on the EP), ‘Not Saying Goodbye’ which sounds like Busted at their most ballad-y, and ‘Wet Tongue’, a song that bottles teenage sexual frustration and features the phrase “full throttle right hand” (he does not know what this means).
It’s Thomas embracing his pop side – even if he says he’d rather be called a rock star (boooooo). “That’s why I’m so excited for this EP because I fucking love pop music. And we can get into the whole Justin Bieber thing where he’s like, ‘it’s popular music’,” he says that part in a bad Canadian accent, “but who cares whether it’s Justin Bieber saying that or whether it’s fucking John Lennon? I’m not afraid of pop music at all. My favourite one’s ‘W4NNA DO’, and that one is so pop.”
The big star of the show is latest drop, ‘2009 Toyota’. It’s a song that condenses the fun he’s been craving into 2 and a half minutes, featuring a pitched-up chorus and nonsense lyrics that flew straight off the top of the dome.
“I don’t even drink soy milk,” he says, clarifying some of the track’s lyrics. “So I don’t know what that’s all about. I’ve never stolen a carpet from Target – a carpet is quite a difficult thing to steal; I don’t think I’m gonna get a Target sponsorship with that song. There’s no truth or deep story about it. My friend Charlie does have a rooftop, though, and it is usually better than a bar.”
“Do I give off ‘I can’t drive’ energy?”Thomas headon
A known fibber, Thomas’ lies have caught up with him on occasion. “It did come back and bite me. I did a TV thing recently, where they were like, ‘we’ve heard you carry a toothpick with you all the time’, I was like, I’ve never done that in my life.”
It hasn’t deterred him, though. He doesn’t even own a 2009 Toyota Camry (the lyric confused his mum quite a bit), but he does have a Holden Cruze (this is a Chevrolet Cruze in the UK) back in Australia. However, Thomas does plan on getting his hands on a Toyota for his upcoming June tour – he’s playing six dates in far more intimate venues than the Kentish Town Forum he headed up at the end of 2022 – where he’ll be driving himself around the country.
It’s part of a sort-of bit where Thomas says the label spent too much on touring last year, so he’s having to do the promotion himself. It’s not limited to driving himself around on tour either; his Instagram shows him putting up promotional posters himself too.
“We went through all the costs of touring last year, and we were just like, fuck no, we’re never doing that again,” he explains. Ironically it seems the touring funds have gone into getting the actual vehicle instead. “I think the label’s buying [the car], which is really funny. I hope I get to keep it afterwards because then, technically, my record label’s bought me a car.” Now that’s a rock star move.
He tells us they’ve booked him in for a legal driving test, too, to ensure he is road safe before flinging himself down the M40. This seems to have touched a nerve.
“I can drive! People comment on my shit all the time as well, saying, ‘I feel like you can’t drive’. Do I just give off ‘I can’t drive’ energy?” Now we’re not here to make assumptions, but Thomas has arrived to our photo shoot with a black eye after dropping a weight on his face the previous day and admits in our chat he’s accidentally leaked his own address on a live stream before. Getting behind the wheel for his own tour sounds a bit concerning. “I’m a very capable driver. I’ve never been in an accident; I’ve only had one speeding ticket. I’ve done all the driving, guys.”
We, particularly, are hoping he makes it around the UK in one piece because he’ll be pulling up at Signature Brew in August for his headline set at Dork’s Day Out. It comes towards the end of a more relaxed festival season for Thomas this year and before he heads off to Europe for another intimate run.
“I’m super excited. And I get free beer thanks to you,” he says optimistically. “I would be okay with only getting paid in beer. A lot of other people wouldn’t, but I would be very happy with that.”
He adds that owning a pub is actually one of his long-term goals. “I go by Thomas in a lot of places, but I’m lucky that I can shorten my name to Tom. Like, Tom’s Beer is such a good name; he just sounds like he runs a brewery. Tom’s Pub. That’s so great, right?”
Despite all of the fun he’s currently having, Thomas drops in that he’s getting into album mode, and we’ll see that serious side pop out again then. Whatever’s coming next, it’s sure to be as unpredictable as he is (today, we break the record for most tangents in a one-hour interview, so we can only imagine how his writing sessions go). He’s taking every day as it comes – sometimes he wakes up and finds out Elton John wants him to play a show, other times he realises he’s doing a shoot, and he’s got a shiner – embracing the rollercoaster that’s been the last few years for him.
The EP might be six songs Thomas Headon likes and thinks you’d like too, but it’s also a glimpse into the joyful chaos of his world. No matter where he’s going, with Thomas behind the wheel, it’s gonna be a wild ride. ■
Taken from the July 2023 edition of Dork. Thomas Headon’s EP ‘Six Songs That Thomas Headon Likes And Thinks You Would Like Too’ is out now. He plays Dork’s Day Out on Saturday 5th August, at London’s Signature Brew Blackhorse Road, and Y Not? Festival, between 28th and 30th July. Get more information at ynotfestival.com.
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