A one man show, composing, playing, recording, mixing and mastering all single-handedly! Get acquainted with German musician Thomas Allan, and the overwhelming sensation of his britpop-tinged rock’n’roll. For his second album release Walks Like Chaplin on Jamendo, we listened from inside his small cellar music studio, as if we were a fly on the wall, and became witness to his unique and pleasant DIY universe!
- Hi Thomas! It is a pleasure to have you on our blog! We had the opportunity to discover your universe back in 2012 when you were featured on our homepage for the release of your first album Commercial B-Sides. Our readers are thrilled to hear your artist story! When did you start making music and how did you come the Thomas Allan sound that we hear today?
Firstly, thanks for the interest from you! Jamendo is a great platform for unsigned artists like myself to get noticed. I started off playing the drums when I was 6 years old. Drums are the only instrument that I have learned to play classicly. At the age of 12 I bought my first bass guitar, closely followed by an electric guitar. I formed my first band at the age of 12. I soon got interested in recording my songs and I started buying cheapo microphones and a two track recorder.
Needless to say, over the years I improved my recording equipment and knowledge and built up my own home recording studio. All of this I have done by learning and doing. From the beginning I wrote my own songs. I never really was interested in playing covers. The most recent instrument I learnt was the harmonica. I took part in a two day harmonica-workshop and recorded my song "Sensation" (which is based on a harmonica melody) shortly after. "Sensation" was soon broadcasted by BBC-Radio and other national radio stations. I always liked a "live-sounding" recording. I am not a big fan of overproduced and fat productions.
- You just released your second album Walks Like Chaplin on Jamendo. How would you describe the evolution from your first release to this one? What are the main differences between these two albums?
I am proud of both albums but I feel my songwriting has developed and become more personal on "Walks Like Chaplin". The songs on the new album deal with things I have experienced and seen on a daily basis.
I am inspired by all sorts of situations. On my first album I wrote the lyrics after I had the music. Now I write the music around the lyrics. Regardless, on "Walks Like Chaplin" I had to include two tracks from "Commercial B-Sides" for the simple reason they fitted in so well.
- On the description of Walks Like Chaplin on Jamendo, you’re mentioning that you found the album name while working in a drug help center. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the song? Do you think that experience had an impact on you as an artist or as a person?
I used to work in a drug help center and I had a client with a really deep voice like James Bond. He injected heroin into his groin and due to the pain he walked like Charlie Chaplin. I just had to write a song about him! (Words in the chorus: "And he walks like Chaplin. But he talks like Bond!")
On another song I describe a situation I experienced on the train coming from work.I sat opposite a business man in his clean suit who had fallen asleep with his head on the shoulder of a builder in mucky workman's clothes.Out came the song "Business Suits And Mucky Boots".
- In your album, you are playing all the instruments (except violin). You’re also singing, writing, mixing, mastering your own songs: that’s truly impressive! How did you come to make music all by yourself? Have you ever thought of forming a band?
I had numerous sessions in professional recording studios, but the songs always ended up sounding overproduced and to clean for my liking.I decided the only way to really be happy with the result was to record the album in my cellar at home. There I was able to take as long as I wanted to get the sound right. This is why I play all the instruments on the album. (Who wants to sit with me at two o'clock in the morning to position a guitar microphone?!)
I am currently forming a band to perform the songs on "Walks Like Chaplin" live and loud, but I also enjoy playing them solo with my acoustic guitar.
- We hear the British sound influence in your music, drawing comparisons with the like of Oasis and such. A BBC radio host even called you “the new Billy Bragg”! Is being half-British impacting the way you write and record songs?
As I was a child my father introduced me to bands like Oasis, The Who, Sex Pistols, Joe Jackson etc. I grew up speaking English, listening to English music and English is the language I feel most comfortable writing and singing in.
- If you had to choose one particular song that means something special for you on your new album Walks Like Chaplin, which one would it be?
I would have to say "Sensation" because it was the first track of mine to be played on national radio. I wrote it 3 or 4 years ago, which makes it the oldest song on the album but I still enjoy playing it live even though I have played it so often. It is a song that works without any band arrangement. That is why I recorded it live with just me, my guitar and my harmonica.
- We saw a picture of you on your Facebook after a huge gig. You really seem to pour your heart and soul on stage for your public! Is is important for you to communicate all this energy to your audience? Do you have any crispy anecdote of a live experience?
I sing and play all my songs with passion and energy because this is how I feel music should be performed. I prefer playing live because it is more fun to sing and to build up a connection to an audience than singing on my own in my studio whilst recording.
I played a festival where the crowd stood in torrential rain and were soaked through. The trouble was, so was I on stage and unfortunately the rain caused all the electrics to fuse and we had no electricity on stage for ten minutes.
- What’s next for Thomas Allan? Any plans for the future?
I will send of "Walks Like Chaplin" to radio stations, magazines and record labels to reach as many people as possible. As with all musicians I hope "Walks Like Chaplin" will give me my breakthrough and a bit of recognition for all the energy and hard work that I put into this album. I am extremely proud of it!
Touring and playing live is the next step! I am constantly writing new material and this is just the beginning of my musical journey!
Thanks for your support!