In Conversation with Ali Thoburn

All the way from Liverpool, Ali Thoburn is a guitarist, singer and songwriter sharing his acoustic folk music with the world. Raised on ‘Penny Lane’, Thoburn’s gets his inspiration from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Blind Melon (among others). We had a chat about his latest EP Baggage Handling which he proudly recorded without touching a computer.


Why did you decide to become a musician? Was working in the music industry your first career choice?

I’m not sure that it was a conscious decision really. I couldn’t pinpoint a moment when it clarified in my head, but it almost certainly involved watching a video I had of a live Dire Straits gig. I don’t think I’ve planned my life enough to be able to say that I’ve had career choices. I just want to play music and I can’t think of a time when I haven’t.


How would you describe your music to a new fan?

The bastard child of Robert Johnson, Philip Larkin, Nick Drake and Dinosaur Jr given up for adoption and raised in an analogue recording studio by Roger Waters.


Can you explain the artwork of Baggage Handling? Does it have any significance?

The artwork for Baggage Handling was put together by my good friend Miles Reilly. The cover photo is of my great grandfather, Arthur Boiston Bell. It was taken somewhere in Flanders in WW1 and I found it in an old box of photos and stuff whilst I was recording the album. He survived the war and I definitely see something of my own appearance in his face. I’m really proud to have been able to put him on the cover of the vinyl.


What was the concept for Baggage Handling?

I think it’s only when you get a few songs into writing an album that you can pick up on the themes that the songs are about. I think Baggage Handling is about trying to get through without losing ourselves along the way.


Was the recording process smooth and simple or were there a lot of challenges?

I lived in Dublin for a couple of years and set up an old 16 track desk and tape machine in the room that I was living in. I don’t really like computers and I think digital methods of recording can give you more options than you actually need. I like limitations. So the process was fairly straightforward with most of the instruments being recorded to tape. I finished the album off back in London with my oldest mate Dave Morris playing some drums for me and Ben Henry Edwards playing harmonica beautifully on a couple of tracks. My son, Ollie plays piano on ‘Saccharine’ which I love.


Which is your most favourite song on the album? Why this one?

‘Saccharine’. It was the one song that I really thought I might not get to where I wanted it to go and then suddenly it just did.


Which is your least favourite song on the album? Why this one?

That’s like being asked who your least favourite child is! I originally recorded 12 songs for the album, but about halfway through recording one song called ‘Silver’ I just fell out of love with it and scrapped it. Not quite sure why.


What do you do in your spare time?

I’m not very good at relaxing, but I do like a drink


How do you remain motivated?

That’s a daily struggle for all of us I think and I’m not sure that I always do. I’ve got a pretty strong work ethic though and I have always felt compelled to do this, even when it seems futile.


Do you have a message for all your fans and potential fans?

Be good to each other and spread the word.

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