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10 Questions with | Tom Waters

Tom Waters is a highly accomplished Rhythm and Blues and jazz Saxophone player whom from a young age has recorded and worked with numerous chart-topping bands and rock and roll legends such as; The Rolling Stones, Ray Davies (The Kinks) and Jeff Beck. Waters has many awards to his name and with his band ‘the electric people’, which he tours and gigs regularly he is already proving the saxophone can rock and roll! Tom started his professional career with his father Ben Waters at the humble age of eight, two-weeks prior to actually picking the saxophone up. Tom and his dad spent the next few years touring around the world - some of the highlights were at the glee club in Japan with piano player Keito Siato, and the several years of exclusive touring of Australia and New Zealand just as a father and son duo as well as with Tim Ries, Bernard Fowler and Chris Jagger.

Tom has worked exclusively with Ralph Lauren and hat company Maison Michel modeling with the Saxophone in hand. Tom has more recently been working with fusion band Abel’s collective that gig around London and specialise in Marcus Miller and Brecker Brother tunes - He is also a regular in the Jools Holland Rhythm and blues orchestra. On the 5th of May, Tom Waters and friends will be hosting a celebration of 15 years of playing sax in Concert and EP from live performances. Indie Boulevard was able to talk to Tom about his career, upcoming live show, and goals.

IB: Hi Tom! We are honored to have you on Indie Boulevard and thank you for taking the time to talk to us about music and tell us more about your creative journey. So, what inspired you to start playing the saxophone, and who were some of your early influences?

TOM: My dads a boogie woogie piano player from Dorset and when I was about 6 years old he got offered a gig in Scotland with a band called rocket 88 to celebrate the life of Ian Stewart. He asked the whole family about an hour before leaving if any of us would like to go and I replied yes - so I quickly ran to my room packed a bag and jumped in the car. As I was only six and it was the middle of July in Dorset I just presumed that it’d be the same temperature up in Scotland so I packed shorts and t shirts. When we got to Scotland it was freezing and as the flight was delayed there was no time to stop to get a jumper or coat for me to wear. The worst part about it was that the gig was outdoors so my dad could only think of zipping me up in my suitcase with my head sticking out. He propped the suitcase in front of the saxophone players for the rest of the night and I couldn’t get enough - I spent the weekend with Willie Garnett sand his son Alex Garnett who both took me under their wing and played huge influences in my life. I then went on to discover Hank Crawford and David fathead Newman aswell as more modern players like David Sanborn and Chris Hunter.

IB: I got a unique chance to listen to your upcoming EP 'Alive in Europe' and man, it's just incredible! I still can't get off the track called 'All Right Now', 9 minutes of pure bliss. Can you tell us a little about the creative process behind your new EP, and what listeners can expect from it?  Was the recording taken from a live show?

TOM: Thank you so much that means a lot. I normally record all our shows just so we can get the set better and tighter, but we did a couple of shows during our European tour which we all just absolutely loved as a band. Our three favourite nights were; the ducs des Lombards in Paris, pizza express London and jazztage in leverkusen. I just took a track from each of the shows as we don’t have a lot of music out as a band I thought this would be a nice taster of what we do as a group.

IB: Despite your young age you've been performing for 15 years now, that's amazing! What are some of your most memorable moments on stage?

TOM: One of the maddest nights was with Ronnie Woods wild five at Ronnie Scott’s. The band play homage to chuck berry and we were on our last night of the tour when Johnny Depp, Jeff Back, Imelda May and Rod Stewart all decide to turn up to have a jam with the band. It was such a amazing experience and we partied for the rest of the night. One my other favourite nights was with my dad and Charlie Watts invited us to the Rolling Stones last show in Hyde park. When we got up their Charlie and the band had organised for me to meet tim Ries and Bobby keys who the sax players in the band. Tim and I were chatting for hours and I was telling him I had this beginner sax and I was struggling to reach some of the higher notes and without question he said have my one. This is the last night of the tour and I won’t need it after this - he played the sax that night and then we collected it the next day but I was in such shock it was unbelievable. One of the highlights of my life definitely!

IB: By the way, congratulations on your upcoming 15th anniversary concert at Cadogan Hall in London! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to plan this special performance?

TOM: I love playing with as many people as possible and it really inspires my own writing playing other people’s music. I was so pleased all the guests confirmed they could make the show and there all such incredible performers.

IB: Are there any particular pieces or songs that you're especially excited to play during the concert and why?

TOM: We’ll be premiering so new original music that we don’t do that often but I’m very excited to try them out on such a big stage.

IB: You've invited some special guest performers to join you on stage for the concert. Can you give us a sneak peek into who they are and what they'll be bringing to the performance?

TOM: We have hamish Stuart who’s an original member of average white band and wrote for Chaka khan and tour with Paul McCartney. Louise Clare Marshall who is an incredible singer and tours regularly with Jools holland and Marc almond. Josephine de la Baume who doesn’t just have the number one band in France (film noir) but is a successful actor and Joseph lawrence who has just recently signed with RCA records.

IB: The saxophone is such a versatile and expressive instrument and Jazz music is known for its improvisational nature and spontaneity. How do you approach selecting which pieces to play during a performance, and how do you tailor your playing style to fit different genres and styles of music?

TOM: This band play a lot of different music and but we all love to improvise and keep the set as spontaneous as possible. I think it’s interesting trying to approach improvising through rock music and blues as you want it to sound authentic but are also trying to playing something new every time you pick up the instrument.

IB: What do you believe is the most important element of a successful collaboration between musicians, and how do you navigate creative differences when they arise?

TOM: The friendship and trust between you and some times it doesn’t get going till the 3rd or 4th time you meet but when your having a laugh and enjoying the music you’re creating together it becomes a joy able and then some beautiful stuff will start coming out. I don’t like to rush things especially when I’m working with someone I don’t know or collaborating with someone new I think it’s important to stay relaxed.

IB: Looking back on your 15 years career so far, what advice would you give to your younger self when you were just starting out?

TOM: I would just say practice! Haha, I’m riding the day goes by so quickly and I’ve always liked to do at least a couple of hours of practice everyday but it’s seems like it getting harder and harder to do that but be patient and be strict with yourself. I used to do a lot more when I was 12ish or so would be playing all day but I really need to plan out my days now to make sure I fit everything in. 

IB: And the last question. Looking ahead to the future, what are some of your goals and aspirations as a musician, and how do you hope to continue evolving and pushing the boundaries of jazz, rock and blues?

TOM: I really want to get to making an album with this group and want to see where playing rock can take us as a band and jazz of blues of course but I’m enjoying this direction the band is going in and I can’t wait to write some more music with everyone in the group as they’re all such phenomenal musicians.

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