It must be in the jeans. The offspring of musical hedonists Richard and Linda Thompson, Teddy Thompson is one hell of a talented songwriter. Since his debut self-titled album came out in 2000, Thompson has been busy working on collaborative projects (including the ‘I’m Your Man’ tribute to Leonard Cohen) and solo recordings. His latest album, Up Front & Down Low, is a typically skittish and melodic collection of folk tinged melodrama. We spoke to him recently. With the depth of your musical upbringing, was there really any chance you’d end up as an accountant or a bank teller? ‘A bank teller? I could have aimed a bit higher than that! Assistant branch manager surely. I didn’t have a lot of other skills though, no. I wasn’t academically gifted let’s say, but I also wasn’t particularly artistic in other ways either. I can’t draw or paint and I’m a rubbish dancer’.
What was generally spinning on the stereo in your house during your teenage years? And what about now? ‘In my early teens it was all ’50s all the time; country and rock n’ roll, Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. Later there was Crowded House and Squeeze and that sort of thing. Now it’s mostly Teddy Thompson records. Great stuff!’
Were you disappointed by the lack of sales of your debut self-titled album? ‘I was very disappointed, yes. But mostly in that I felt totally let down by the label. They gave me no direction while I was recording and I think I could have used some. I would have benefited from an old fashioned A & R man, but I guess they don’t exist any more’.
In what ways do you feel Up Front & Down Low is a progression from your previous recordings? ‘Well, it’s something different and I think that is always a progression. I’m sure some people will be confused and want something more like my last record, but I had the opportunity to do something fun that I’m passionate about so I thought, fuck it! Why not?’ If you could piece together the ultimate Teddy Thompson road band using musicians outside of those in your touring band now, who would be in it and who would most likely demand the most extravagant rider? ‘Hmmm. Levon Helm on drums would be good. Brad Albetta on bass. James Burton on guitar. Greg Leisz on pedal steel. And a string quartet from the London Philharmonic. I would still have the most demanding rider. Although I imagine that getting Levon’s weed could be tricky in certain places’.