Tom Cooney to Launch Futureproof at Ashgrove's Junk Bar
Olivia Gliku | On 10, Aug 2017
Tom Cooney’s indie-folk album Futureproof will be launched at Ashgrove’s Junk Bar this weekend.
Tom joined us to discuss the travel, emotions, and circumstances that influenced the album, and what you can expect at the album launch.
Futureproof may be a breakup album, but it certainly doesn’t involve your cliché, pop sound that the term can evoke. One of the highlights of Futureproof is how real it is when it comes to conveying pain. So, if you’re planning a breakup, just gone through one, or just want a really great album to listen to, Futureproof should definitely be on your playlist. Tom explained his approach to creating his genuine lyrics to us.
“I think everyone has got a different way of writing, and a different lens they put their experience through. I’ve tried to have things as personal as possible, to make it easy to connect with people. To go down as deep as I can to try to access something universal.”
“It’s something that came with trying to get some perspective of the heaviness of some of those situations, and trying to not get stuck inside a downward spiral. Like, just feeling sorry for yourself and being totally subjective, going down and down into this spiral. Instead of trying to step away from yourself a little bit and seeing a situation from outside…”
“I mean, it doesn’t really change how intense the situation is. But, when you can look at it from a couple of angles, you can kind of move on from it a little bit easier. I think even just trying to find analogies for what’s going on can be really helpful.” Tom said.
Tom spent a few years living overseas, and returned to Australia in 2014. He told us about how his time away influenced his music. While the specific musical styles of Ireland and France weren’t key influences to Futureproof’s sound, their musical cultures certainly were.
“The feel of the different places definitely influenced me, and the circumstances in which I was performing
“In Ireland, everyone can play music really really well…”
“There’s nothing special about you when you’re over there. If you can’t write something that can touch people, as a performer, you’re not even as good as the next person. But, if you can actually touch people through your writing, rather than your performance, solely, then you can actually get somewhere. You can have a fanbase or get noticed.”
“You need to have something else, you can’t just be good at music.” He said.
Tom also told us about how the freedom of expression in France helped him learn as a writer and performer.
“France a very free place in terms of an expression. It was really good to have all these different forms of expression around, living in Paris and freedom to just go and say or do whatever, without any kind of judgment. I got a bit more free with my expression.” He said.
Tom will be bringing Futureproof to Ashgrove’s Junk Bar on Sunday, August 13th. He let us in on what you can expect from that set.
“I don’t usually play with a band. I usually record albums with a band and then play most of the songs solo, and have some harmonies as well. So this time, at Junk Bar, I’ve been rehearsing with a band. There’s probably half the songs with a band and the other half are how you’d expect to see me play normally, which is solo with some harmonies. That room is just so intimate, and the sound is so crystal clear. We’re all inside the music, if you’re inside that room. It’s a great place to experience music.” He said.
Tom told us about what it was like working with Lawrence Greenwood, one of his long-time friends. He was one of the contributors to the freedom of expression, and the overall sound of Futureproof.
“He was amazing because he and I have played music together for years, but we’ve never worked on something together. He always heard me a certain way but felt that he hadn’t heard me record it in the way that he wanted to hear it. What he wanted was to hear was my voice front and centre, and more intimate songs. I’ve always recorded a few kind of band songs…”
“Once he’d heard the songs that I’d written for the album, which was about 14 songs, he said ‘there’s a clear theme running through this. There’s ten songs that really illustrate that theme. So, the other four we’re just not going to record, and were going to just go for these ten. We’re going to make it a really concentrated and relatively intense album.’ Because it’s kind of short, it’s not too much for a listener. If it were longer, I think it could get to be kind of a drag. But, it kind of gets quite open towards the end of the album, which is an intention to have a bit of release…”
“Sometimes when you’re playing music, and recording music on your own, without any other input, you can kind of loose faith or track in where your going. If you have someone that’s with you that you can trust to give you directions… it’s really energising and you can get a lot more done.”
On Futureproof, you’ll also find some beautiful harmonies by another friend of Tom’s, Corina Scanlon. Corina is someone who Tom said he “can’t imagine doing a record without”. Tom told us about the unconventional way their working relationship began.
“I was just recording some demos at a friend’s place and she was the partner of that friend. She was just humming harmonies while she was making dinner, while he was mixing it. He said ‘why don’t you just put those harmonies on the songs?’ I came back to do more work and he showed me the harmonies she’d put on the songs. It was like a different part of my own voice, just a perfect compliment to the music. It took it to a place that I didn’t think it could go. So, since then, we haven’t stopped working together. It’s been a really great working relationship.” He said.
As with any piece of art, Tom and the team behind Futureproof saw some challenges as they were recording. Tom let us in on what those challenges were, and the impact they had on Futureproof’s sound.
“It was a break up album where the break up was still happening during the recording. The recording was being done in Melbourne, and the space we were doing it in changed as we were going along, and Lawrence was out of action for a little while. So, I couldn’t work on it for a couple of months. It was a tough headspace for me to work in, but I thought it made sense to get it recorded while I was feeling like that. There was a lack of stability for a while, in terms of being able to go to the same place and finish the record. But, those all turned into really great things. It meant that I could take time to go back and listen to everything that we had done, and make really informed decisions on where the songs could go.”
“All the challenges, just worked in our favour in the end.” Tom explained.
Despite the challenges that were involved in creating Futureproof, Tom of course still had some great experiences during the recording process. He told us what his favourite memories from the process were.
“I think the best part of making music is when you’ve written a song and you finished it. The rest is pretty difficult, because it’s like acting sometimes. You go into the studio, and you’ve got to recreate this thing that was a pure moment, a few months ago.”
“The best part really, is the spark where it all happens. Then in terms of the actual recording, I think there’s a couple of best moments. One is definitely once I’ve recorded all of my parts, and I start hearing other people’s parts popping onto it and it becomes this thing that’s not necessarily mine anymore. It becomes the thing that I’m listening to, that I could actually listen to and enjoy that’s almost some one else’s.”
Casey Hartnett was another member of the team behind the album. Tom noted one of his experiences in the studio with Casey as another highlight during the recording process.
“He was playing a guitar solo for the very last track and he was just going over it three or four times to get it right. I was lying on the studio floor, and I was half asleep. So the whole thing was kind of floating over me, it felt like I was floating in the room. It was such a beautifully done solo. I haven’t felt that way in the studio before. It was a really nice out of body experience.
With the mix of experiences that influenced Futureproof, it’s no surprise that Tom feels he has come into his own sound over the past few years.
“I thought that I had a sound, but it’s actually developed a lot over the last few years. I feel like it’s taken a good eight or nine years to hone what my sound actually is. So, I could be playing music that I’ve written, that I [didn’t] necessarily feel like ‘oh that kind of sounds a bit like this or that’. I feel like it gets more and more me as I go on. I think that you’ve got to give yourself time to fall into yourself.
“It’s really tough to find your own way into a song when there’s so many amazing songwriters that have come before, who are in your head because you’ve listened to them forever.” Tom told us.
We’re loving Tom Cooney‘s new-found sound, so, we had to know what’s on the drawing board once he’s wrapped up launching Futureproof. We’re very happy to report that he has plenty of intended plans.
“There’s definitely going to be some touring on the East Coast, possibly a little bit of New Zealand and Europe. I’ve already started recording some stuff for the next album. Which is silly, but I couldn’t help myself. Because of that fact, that I did feel like I’m starting to find my individual musical voice. It’s fun to get back into the studio now, it’s not a chore. I really enjoy it and I’m going to get back into the studio pretty soon.”
“There’s another project I’m involved with, called Borrowed Verse, which should be out in a few months, as well. It’s got some great artists. You take a great Australian poet and put their poetry to music. It’s a compilation of a bunch of different acts, it’s pretty great.
With Tom’s plans to keep busy with multiple side projects, you should be sure to keep tabs on him here. You won’t regret it.
What: Tom Cooney Futureproof Album Launch w/Asha Jefferies
Where: Junk Bar, 215 Waterworks Rd, Ashgrove
When: Sunday, August 13th at 7pm
How Much: $18.40