Teddy Thompson is the son of Richard and Linda Thompson, perhaps best known to Nick Drake fans as friends of Nick's during his time in London (Richard also played guitar on 'Five Leaves Left' and 'Bryter Layter'). Teddy Thompson is also a fantastic singer-songwriter and guitarist.
Born in 1976 in the London commune where his parents resided, Thompson "didn't listen to any music made after 1959 until I was about 16," and formed his first band in his early teens. After finishing school at 18, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began to pursue a musical career in earnest. His original tunes and live gigs generated sufficient buzz to win him a deal with Virgin Records. By the time he released his self-titled solo debut in 2000, he’d already played in his father’s touring band and contributed guitar and backing vocals to his albums 'You? Me? Us?' and 'Mock Tudor' . In 2002, Teddy played a key role in drawing his mother out of a 17-year musical retirement to record her landmark comeback disc 'Fashionably Late', which he co-produced and played on; he also led her live band when Linda toured to support the album. Teddy also found time to record a self-released six-song EP, 'Blunderbuss', and to tour as part of Rosanne Cash's band, before signing with Verve and releasing the acclaimed 'Separate Ways' in early 2006.
Teddy's most recent album 'Upfront & Down Low' features renditions of classic country songs and includes 6 tracks with string arrangements by Robert Kirby.
Teddy kindly found the time to answer a few questions for us via email.
You must have been exposed to a lot of music growing up, much of it of the kind other people only discover for themselves as they get older. What was the first music you remember finding for yourself?
Finding myself eh? That's tough, I mean I didn't feel the urge to get away from music at home and discover something new. I do remember wanting to get the Wet Wet Wet single of "With a little help from my friends" which I didn't know was a cover. So I asked my nan to take me to Our Price and I think that's the first record I bought with my own money.
You've clearly got a real love of classic country music - that must have been rather unusual growing up in London?
My dad used to play an Everlys tape on car journeys when I was very young, 5 or 6 , and I loved it immediately and country music became my first love. As I got older, I just lied about my musical tastes in general, at least until I was 12 or 13 I just said I liked Bros too!
How has the reaction to 'Upfront & Down Low' been? Country music tends to polarise people a little (or a lot!) both in the UK and the US.
The reception has been pretty good in the US. I did a couple of TV shows there and had some good press. It hasn't sold that much here but it was very clear from the start that the UK label wasn't going to push it too much. It's ok, it was always a side project and I'm having such fun without any big expectations.
Do you spend most of your time in the USA now?
Yes, I live in New York. I'm very famous there!
You worked with Rufus Wainwright on the new album, did you find you had experiences in common, both having started your careers to some degree in the shadow of your parents?
Well, we've been friends for a long time. I don't know if we became close due to some similar experiences.
Who are the writers and performers (past and present) you most admire and is there anyone you'd love to work with?
There are producers and musicians I'd like to work with but not so much other artists. I'm still most in love with '50's music, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry and all that. I suppose I could go see Chuck but I think I would be disappointed. Although I'm eternally grateful that I saw Ray Charles before he died. It was worth it for the few glimmers of genius. He was just the best.
I have to ask about Nick Drake, not only have you collaborated with Robert Kirby on recent tracks but your dad played guitar on Nick's albums and your mother was a friend of his. Is he someone whose music you were aware of growing up and are you a fan?
Not really. I didn't listen to it until my early 20's I would say. And I don't have a vast knowledge of his albums, although I love some of it. Robert Kirby is amazing. Working with him was the highlight of making this record.
What's next for you, can we expect another album of your own songs in 2008?
I am writing this email from the studio where I'm working on the new record.
For more info on Teddy go to http://www.teddythompson.com
Where do I start?
We'd recommend 'Separate Ways' as a great place to start but, if you can find a copy, the 'Blunderbuss' EP is a must as it contains 'Up With Love', possibly one of the best songs of the past 10 years.