In Interview: The Lion and The Wolf

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Currently in the middle of a tour with PJ Bond and ahead of his set at 2000 Trees Festival, singer/songwriter The Lion and The Wolf, aka Thomas George, took a moment to sit down with us for a chat about his love for touring, the process of his music and his background… 

You’re currently touring and seem to have been on tour for the main part of this year and last, how do you find it?

I love touring. There is no way I would do it if I didn’t love it; it’s my favourite thing to do. It’s like a mini adventure everyday that’s how I describe it. Playing music for me is one of the best things in the world, playing festivals like this, even people’s houses. I love it more than anything.

You’ve played in Europe a lot, how’s the reaction been there?

It’s amazing, playing out in Europe is a really fun thing to do it. I would advise any kind of band that wants to go out there just to book it and do it. People are very open about whether they like it or not, which can be quite challenging. Someone once came to me and said, “you only played for half an hour” and I went “oh I’m sorry that’s the time I had” and she followed up with “but you have all this music on this cd and this tape”, I felt really bad, but luckily they came to a show a week later and I played for longer. Playing in Europe, playing anywhere is amazing.

Do you have a favourite place to play?

I love playing in Berlin; Berlin is a wonderful place that I could probably move to at some point in my life. Düsseldorf and Cologne, Munster’s really fun. There’s a café in Munster called Tante August, where everyone is sat down with candlelight and it’s really dark and everyone listens intently, it’s always really well attended. I’ll go with Munster. Plus it sounds cool.

Do you feel that being on the road a lot helps or hinders the writing process?

That’s a good question, I don’t really write much on the road, I kind of write when I’m just sat there having some down time in between tours. Just sat in my room, sat on a chair, watching TV, whatever, then I will play a riff or a chord and then I’ll start humming over it, and go okay that’s cool and then I’ll write something.

So it’s the music first, rather than the lyrics?

Yeah always with me, I know people who write the lyrics first, I think they are much more on the literal side of things, I need the music before I can write anything.

You released your album ‘Symptoms’ last year on your own label, ‘Courage and Stone,’ how did it feel to get it out?

It was a wonderful feeling to get it out; it had been a long time coming about 3 or 4 years of touring, sleeping on hard floors in the back of cars and vans. Then I had this opportunity to record in Isle of Wight, my hometown. Through some friends who ran a beautiful 1950’s esk studio and we spent a year on it. We got in a guy called Richard Studt who played the strings on a track called ‘Perfect Trees.’ He also recorded all the strings for Star Wars and The Beatles records. I wasn’t there, they just told me and I nearly broke down, Star Wars (the old films) are my favourite films.

Did you have any tracks you had to leave out?

It was initially going to be a 14 track album, but I thought that’s quite hefty. There was one track called ‘Courage and Stone’ it didn’t feel right to me, I didn’t enjoy listening to it, so I didn’t want to put out a track I didn’t feel passionately about. So we left that off, so it was 13 tracks. The new album is going to be 10, quality not quantity. That’s going to come out some time next year and I have another single to release at some point in November.

Do you have a favourite track from the album, or a favourite to play live?

Yeah… or do I? I really like playing the song ‘Colour’. That was one of last ones to go on the record and I like playing ‘Ghosts and Trinity.’ I would say I play about 8 tracks off that album and about 3 of them are my favourites to play.

Can you give us a bit of background to your musical beginnings?

I started playing in bands at 15 and like everybody does and like every 15 year old you think you’re going to take over the world and be the world’s biggest band. Then that ended and I went to university, started a band in year two called Waiting For Sirens and then we stopped that. I went through a really bad breakup, and wrote a load of songs, you know the cliché. Then recorded them to my laptop, burnt a load of cds, started doing loads of shows, that’s how I met Rob Lynch, that’s how we toured, he took me to Germany and since then it’s got a lot more busy.

Do you have a lot of influences?

I do go back to some of the same albums like Paul Simon ‘Graceland’ that’s one of my favourite records of all time, City and Colour was really big when I started the acoustic things. Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, loads of stuff. I listen to a lot of Iron & Wine recently because people said after a show I sounded like him, so I checked him out. That’s what I love about Spotify and stuff, there is so much there. Yeah I would say I take influence from a lot of things.

What’s the story behind the name ‘The Lion and The Wolf’?

I wrote a song called ‘The Lion and The Wolf’ it was the first song I wrote and it was about incompatibility and I really liked the name of it, so thought it would be nice to use as a name so I text my friend Dan and he said he really liked it, so I thought I should Google it. Of course there’s a Thrice song, but I’m a massive Thrice fan so thought they wouldn’t mind. I started using it and on top of that, I didn’t want to be seen on a bill just my name, singer songwriter, because I wanted it to be seen as A a project and B have a bit of mystery. Plus I play on some heavy bills; having that at the top I think kind of makes people think, ‘oh what’s that, I’ll check it out.’

For people who are new to your music, can you describe your sound in 3 words?

Overloading, crushing, misery. There you go. No. It’s kind of softly-sung, melancholic, folk, I guess.

What’s your biggest highlight so far?

Of this whole epic journey? I still think that Rob Lynch tour I did initially in February last year. I think that set me up, that’s my highlight.

Finally what’s next for TLATW?

Finish this tour with PJ Bond and Heart of Oak and then I go back to record a seven inch single that’s going to be released exclusively on vinyl to come out in October/November time.