After five years as a band, encompassing five EPs and two albums, Kent-based six-piece Tom Williams & the Boat might appear fully-formed but, with the release of their second album, Teenage Blood, they're only just beginning to reveal their true colours.
After leaving school, and having mastered saxophone, violin and guitar, Tom began to play his first solo shows. It was at these shows and others centred around Tunbridge Wells' Forum and Grey Lady venues, that Tom would meet Anthony Vicary, Geri Holton, Chris Stewart, Josh Taylor and David Trevillion, the individuals who would go on to form The Boat in early 2007. Little did they know the significance of the venues at which they had met. The Forum is operated by the owners of Kent-based indie label Unlabel, themselves former members of celebrated post-hardcore band Joeyfat, whose singer, Matt Cole, had profoundly influenced Tom's vocal and lyrical style as he grew up in the area. After Tom's first show had been played at the venue, Unlabel's interest was piqued, and in October 2007 they released the band's first recorded work, the Penguin EP, a collection of upbeat folk-pop coupled with Tom's narrative lyrical style that would set the tone for future releases. Despite an extremely limited release, Penguin quickly gathered support, culminating in the band's first radio play courtesy of Steve Lamacq in his "Favourite New Band" feature on Radio 2. Unlabel's influence had inspired the band, and for the release of their second EP, February, they set up their own label, Wire Boat Recordings. Wire Boat has since acted as an independent source for the band's recordings, as well as an outlet for other up-and-coming artists they admire.
Tom Williams & the Boat have created an album that embraces both their roots and cements a new chapter in the band's history. The independent release (Teenage Blood is a co-release between Moshi Moshi and Wire Boat), interaction with fans and Tom's intuitive storytelling reflect what's come to be expected of the band, but in a new-found love of classic pop structures and dark, heartbreaking narrative styles, there's something entirely different about the album's approach. Tom, when talking about those who inspire him says that he's stayed 'respectful of great songwriting, but [wants] to make something just as good', and it's that confidence which permeates Teenage Blood. Tom Williams & the Boat aren't just a band who want to emulate their heroes any more - they want to match them without undermining their own history or the independence of thought and spirit they cherish, and with Teenage Blood, they might have done just that.