We Are Chester’s Deputy Editor James Wright gets to live his childhood dream – talking to acclaimed Liverpool musician Tommy Scott, frontman for the band Space. In his first “proper” interview, James had the chance to sit down with a personal hero of his, all whilst sitting in the beer garden of Alexander’s in Rufus Court in our fair city.
It’s not everyday you get to see your favourite band.
It’s even less likely, depending on your social standings, financial situations, or even luckiness that you can speak to a member of your favourite band.
So, to be able to sit down in the presence of a hero of my childhood has just been incredible. Even as I write this, some 24 hours after the fact, I’m still a little star-struck.
They say never meet your heroes – in fact, this morning, I watched an episode of Top Gear where James May actually uttered those exact same words – but, thankfully, Tommy is every bit as lovely as you could hope to expect.
This inherent friendliness could possibly be thanks to the natural sociability of the Scousers, or maybe it’s just part of what makes Tommy Scott who he is.
Which, in all honesty, was really helpful for me going into this interview.
I was nervous, strangely so.
I had spent most of the morning thinking up questions to ask him, going over in my mind ‘what would work’, ‘can I say that?’, ‘does that sound stupid?’
And then, some 10 minutes before I was due to head off to Chester, I had cobbled together the best I think I could.
My cousin (a fellow Space fan), my girlfriend, and myself all headed to Alexander’s in Rufus Court – which is a lovely and, dare I say it, quaint space tucked away where you can, and will find all manner of alcoholic beverages and Chester rabble mixing together for a truly wonderful experience.
After a brief kerfuffle with trying to find Tommy, event manager and all around nice woman Leonie Hallam lead me to the beer garden, where my hero sat tuning his guitar, with a glass of red wine beside him.
After collecting my nerves and thinking ‘okay, this is happening’, I started the interview, which, through the wonders of technology, is available here.
Please note, the following recording is taken with a mobile phone recording app, in a less than perfect recording location, and in its full, original context. Some content may be unsuitable for everyone.
Image copyright and courtesy of Big River City 2017
[In the inevitability my technical know how has not matched my bravado, I’ve taken the liberty to transcribe most of the interview below]
James Wright: Space played a set in Chester’s Live Rooms back in February…is this your 1st time playing Chester solo?
Tommy Scott: Yes, it is, yeah. I think so anyway. Oh no, actually, no, I played once before. Ages ago. Erm..what’s the place on the canal?
JW: By Hickory’s?
TS: It’s like a rock venue like. It’s on the canal.
JW: I’m not very good on the venues around [Chester]. [NOTE: I presumed, after the interview, that the venue in question is Telford’s Warehouse]
TS: No, it’s me 2nd time solo.
JW: Okay, that’s alright. So, 2nd time. Are you nervous? Do you still get nervous?
TS: I always get nervous, yeah, yeah. I usually have to have a few glasses of wine before I go on…
JW: Or a bottle!
TS: Yeah! [Laughter]
JW: So, obviously, with Space being a band and this being your 2nd time performing solo in Chester, how does it compare, performing solo to performing in a band, for instance?
TS: It’s totally different. Obviously, it’s more intimate ’cause you have few people here, so it’ll be like a small little – but I love that in a way. It’s-it’s better if – the worst thing in the world is if everyone’s talking. I’ve done some solo gigs and it’s like a total respect and it’s like a church, do ya know what I mean? I don’t mind some people, I mean, obviously they gotta talk and all that but it’s like erm – ‘case that can be unnerving itself, when it’s totally quiet, ’cause people can hear every mistake on the guitar, every little bum note…
JW: And if you’ve had a bottle of wine, there’s bound to be a few…
TS: [Laughter] Yeah, and there will be a few. So yeah, it’s totally different when you play live, like I’ve got Paul Hemmings, he was in The La’s and the Lightning Seeds, he’s playing with me. I’ve got Satin Beige on the cello. She does her own like R&B on a cello type stuff…which is really cool. When I’m with the lads [Space], it’s proper rock and roll…it’s more heavy and stuff. Obviously, this is stripped down, so, yeah, loads of difference.
JW: Cool, cool. So, besides from hailing from Liverpool, and living in Chester for the past 10 years, is there anywhere you really like to go and visit, spend some time, get away, whatever you want to call it?
TS: I love going to Portmeirion, I love it. I got married in Portmeirion so it…
JW: Holds a special place in your heart
TS: Yeah, yeah. I love it. Erm…I’m not really that big of a traveller, you know what I mean? Unless I’m playing gigs I don’t really go on holidays, so I’m not really bothered. I mean, obviously, I’ve been all over the world…back in the day…in the ’90s like.
JW: Right, that’s good, so this gig tonight is in support of Nichols Spinal Injury Foundation [nsif], how did you get involved with the charity?
TS: Basically,…the only reason I’m involved is I’m just performing, hoping people will come, and buy tickets towards it…I’m just helping out like.
JW: Okay, so, when you’re not touring or making new music, or doing old music as it were, what do you like to spend your time doing?
TS: I just love taking my dog, my little Jack Russell for a walk and stuff and playing with him and stuff. He’s me fave, I love him, he’s like a little son for me.
JW: Anywhere you like to go in particular?
TS: I used to go to the canal in Waverton or up to Saighton, you know where that posh school is [Note: presumed to be Abbey Gate College], I’ll walk all around there and stuff like that.
JW: During 2017, Space have already appeared at several festivals, I know because it keeps popping up on my Facebook feed, all across the country, and you’ve still got some more to come, and you kind of already answered this in the 1st question, but do you prefer the larger scale stage of a festival, or prefer the more intimate settings?
TS: It’s equal, you know? I love the big stage because I run ’round, mad, do you know what I mean? Just dive everywhere and stuff. I love doing all of that. Obviously, I’m on a seat tonight…I’ve made sure my seat’s got a few wheels on so I can do some slight movements from side to side…I’ve got a shift of about an inch…so I can still play.
JW: Right, back in the ’90s, you had partnerships with Mr Tom Jones – Sir Tom Jones, we should probably say – and Cerys Matthews, so there’s obviously a keen Welsh connection, and you got married in Portmeirion…other than to get married, do you often venture across the border?
TS: Well, yeah, we’ve got friends there, we’ve got Mike Badger [lead singer of The La’s] lives there, our friend, he’s just moved over there now…I love going for a mooch, I love going to Rhyl, going up on top of the hill ’cause I love nature and all that.
JW: Okay, that’s cool, so, aside from Tom [Jones] and Cerys [Matthews], is there anyone you’d really like to work with?
TS: They’re all dead…I’d imagine working with Elvis or Ella Fitzgerald or Nat King Cole or someone like that…they probably wouldn’t want to work with me [Laughter]
JW: So, do you feel there is anything left in your career that you want to achieve?
TS: Basically, all I wanna achieve really is finding our old fans again and stuff and let them know that, I’m still out there, I’m still writing great songs and stuff like that and bacially people to appreciate the new stuff I’m doing, that’s what I want.
JW: The solo stuff and the Space stuff?
TS: Yeah, yeah, the new Space album like –
JW: Comes out?
TS: It was supposed to be out last October…we had a lot of unhappy people on Pledge which I understand, but there’s loads of stuff going on [like] the cover isn’t finished…the usual.
JW: You’ve been a big part of my childhood…have you got any words of advice for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
TS: In a band and stuff?
JW: Yeah, basically.
TS: All I’ll say is, basically, never give in. Just never ever stop. Because you get so many knock backs all the time like “Am I getting a bit too old?” like that…Just carry on and carry on because you don’t know what’s around the corner, like, I didn’t make it until I was 30! I didn’t make it then. It took me a long time. I was in loads of different bands and finally got there when I was 30, so never give in!
JW: If you’ve got a dream –
TS: As long you got a good plastic surgeon, man [Laughter]
JW: [Laughter] And the money!
TS: [Laughter] I haven’t got either!
JW: Okay, and finally, what can fans expect from you, either on your own or with Space, what can they expect from you in the future?
TS: With Space, it’s just the same as what I do when I play solo, we play all the hits and all that because we understand people wanna come and hear all the hits, but they obviously gotta understand that I’m an artist and I’m always going to be creating new stuff…I’d rather just give up if it was just us doing [the old stuff]. I love playing them because every time you play them again…you see the enjoyment and that, but I’m always about the latest stuff.
Whilst the interview seemed sloppy and informal (probably because it was, on my behalf at least), hopefully, you get a flavour of the sort of guy that Tommy Scott is. A self-professed weirdo who enjoys old black and white horror movies and B-Movies, enjoys the idea the classic look tattoos including the Greek mythology influences, and decorates his own acoustic guitar with old movie posters he (essentially) paper mâchés on himself; he’s a down to Earth guy who enjoys the simple pleasures whilst making (my) world that little bit better.
Whilst this wasn’t the 1st time I’ve seen him or spent some time with him (nor will it hopefully be the last), this was one of the best – if not most surreal – nights of my life.
Thank you, Tommy, you’re boss!
To find out more about the Nichols Spinal Injury Foundation, information can be found on their website.
And for more information on Alexander’s in Chester, including upcoming shows and events, you can visit their website here.