Tom Walker talks to Ricky Wilson about the importance of 'having a dialogue about mental health'

Virgin Radio

1 May 2024, 07:52

Credit: Virgin Radio

Singer-songwriter Tom Walker took a moment out of his UK tour to have a chat with Virgin Radio’s Ricky Wilson.

Tom is in the midst of his 15-date run of shows, ahead of the release of his brand new album, I Am, which will be released on Friday 31st May. It follows his acclaimed 2019 debut What a Time to Be Alive.

Calling in to Virgin Radio UK’s Drivetime show from Glasgow, he said: “It took me a long time to figure out what kind of sound or what to do for this second album, because you've got your whole life to write your first album. People don't really realise that, but you've been drumming up all these ideas since the minute you started playing or writing or whatever. And then all of a sudden you put that out and it's like, ‘Okay, you've got a couple of years to do another one.’ So, it definitely took me a little longer than I'd been expecting. But I'm so proud of it.

He added: “I just wanted to try genres that I hadn't tried and different rhythms that we hadn't experimented with in the past. So there is quite a bit on that on the new album.”

Tom’s single, Head Underwater, is out now. Regarding its subject matter, the artist said: “Head Under Water is kind of about getting sucked deep down in the depths of the darkness and trying to fight your way out. It's almost a ‘what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,’ kind of vibe."

When Ricky asked about trying to make music sound joyous, while at the same time dealing with difficult subjects, Tom told him: “I think it's always good to have a bit of a juxtaposition between the two, isn't it? You know, like, the lyrics are quite sad, but the music is quite upbeat. And when people actually really get into listening to the song, you know, two or three times and they really get into the lyrics, they kind of realise what it's about. But obviously, I don't want everything to just sound completely depressing. It's depressing with an undertone of hope. That's what I like to say.”

He continued: “Writing songs started off for me as just therapy, so I could work my way through my own feelings. But when I put a song on my first album called, Leave a Light On it connected with so many people on so many different levels. And something that was so personal to me became this song that everybody was finding their own stories in. And I thought that was such a beautiful thing. And I wanted to chat about my experiences on this album in a way that would not be a kind of warning, but just like a little page out of my book of how I see the world. There's been a lot of turmoil in my life over the last couple of years. And I always find that people find a little bit of hope in those stories, when they can relate to them.

“I just think having a dialogue about mental health is really important these days. My dad's generation was kind of like ‘Don't talk about it, sweep it under the rug, hope that everything's going to be better.’ And you know, even with my friends, there’s a bit of that, but I find with younger people now there is more of a dialogue, and it's a much healthier way to approach life, I think, talking about things.”

Tom’s tour continues in his birthplace of Glasgow tonight, before he heads to Newcaslte, Norwich, Nottingham and London. On looking after himself on the road, he admitted: “I wish I was a drummer. I feel like as a singer, you've got to kind of look after yourself a bit on tour. A drummer can have beers every night. No problem, go out, party till five in the morning. Come back the next day. No worries!”

When Ricky said: “Singing, you can do that all day long, but talking afterwards, that's what gets you. That's what ruins your voice,” his fellow vocalist agreed, saying: “It is inviting the 60 people back to the dressing room and trying to shout over each other in a very small confined space.”

Tickets for Tom’s I Am tour are available from His album, I Am, is out on Friday 31st May. 

Listen to Ricky Wilson on his weekday Drivetime show between 4pm-7pm on Virgin Radio UK on DAB, online, Sky TV, smart speakers or via the 'Virgin Radio UK' app.