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Interview: Tom Pritchard of Air Traffic

Interview: Tom Pritchard of Air Traffic

It has been a decade since Air Traffic first came onto the scene with their debut album Fractured Life. It was back in 2003 when the trio of Chris Wall, David Ryan Jordan and Tom Pritchard met whilst studying in Bournemouth. After moving to London, they completed the line up by recruiting Jim Maddock.

The band never released a second album and went on to pursue other interests. Whatever those interests were they are back with a brand new single ‘Almost Human,’ their first in ten years, and the promise of more material to follow.

The band have recently have announced a series of live shows to coincide with the new single, this includes a special hometown show over at The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth on the 12th of April 2018. Tickets are now available over on www.seetickets.com. To celebrate their return I was fortunate enough to catch up with the band’s guitarist Tom Pritchard.

How did you get involved with music and who influenced you most? 

I believe all four of us were initially influenced by music from a young age.  Personally speaking, I was around 8 or 9 years old when I discovered my parents’ records, mainly from the 70’s that got me into music.  Listening to groups like The Stones, The Clash, Talking Heads, Bowie and The Velvet Underground made me want to play the guitar.  Once that idea had stuck my musical horizon expanded dramatically.

Moments before their first show in eight years captured by Lien Wevers.

For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
It’s a tough one as our music can be pretty diverse at times.  Three tracks that I think sum us up well are:
Never Even Told Me Her Name‘ – I feel this represents a lighter approach to our sound. It’s lively, melodic and upbeat plus the guitars in the mid 8 sound pretty heavy, which is always a good thing!
Shooting Star’ – It’s the song we’re known the most for so I had to include it really. It’s always suited the bigger venues and stages.
Your Fractured Life’ – This was a tough one but after the reaction from our last tour, we all realised how much this song means to our fans. There were a lot of tears in the audience, including some middle-aged men! It was powerful to watch.

Over the years has your approach to performing live changed and if so how?
Our approach to our live performances has definitely matured.  We were still tight playing years ago but this time around we’ve focused a lot more on our live sound, especially myself as a guitarist.  I feel we’re playing the best we ever have at the moment.

How do you feel that your latest material compares and contrasts to your previous releases?
In an odd way I think our music feels more relevant now than when it was written and Almost Human definitely has that feel too.  It’s pop but a mature sounding pop and there are some cool interesting sounds going on.  Plus I think Chris’s voice is sounding better than ever!

How do you feel that you have pushed yourself musically since working on this new material and how would you describe your creative mindset this time around?
I think Almost Human was the first Air Traffic song that wasn’t worked on before recording with the four of us in a room.  Due to timing we all individually visited the studio and recorded each layer that way.  It was hard at first trying to recreate it live as that was the first time we had played it as a band.  It felt a bit like learning to play a cover.

What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
Music is always inspiring and between the four of us our musical taste is very broad.  For me, The National’s latest record is great.  Like all their records it feels very personal and the level of song writing is very high.  St Vincent’s Masseduction is also on repeat.  Watching her play the guitar makes me feel inferior!

Our approach to our live performances has definitely matured.  We were still tight playing years ago but this time around we’ve focused a lot more on our live sound, especially myself as a guitarist.  I feel we’re playing the best we ever have at the moment.

While on tour do you get very much time to explore the towns and cities that you are playing?
It depends really, if there’s time then yes.  Recently we had three shows back to back in Leuven so that gave us time to wander around.  By the end of show three though you feel it’s time to move on, the beauty of being on tour is that your environment changes everyday.

What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
Circus acts, magicians, fire-breathing… if only the budget allowed!  Really I guess it’s a very honest performance of our music.  We’ve always received great live reviews and if our last tour was to go by it can be emotional at times too.  We’ve got some bigger shows next April so we’re always thinking of ways to improve.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
We’ve got more rehearsals planned as well as time to work on new ideas.  We got back to celebrate 10 years since Fractured Life was released, so everything else afterwards is still a bonus.  We’re taking things one-step at a time.


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