Richard Rogers (RR): For those that might be unaware. can you give us some background information about yourself please as I know you are more famous as an actor than as a musician/singer?
Tom Beck (TB): My background is on the music side. I’m 40 years of age, I grew up in Nurnberg and I started to play the accordion at the age of 4 or 5, they were my first musical steps and then I played the organ and keyboards and then I started to play along to songs that I heard on the radio on the piano or keyboards and then i started singing to them. Then I started my own bands, the first one at the age of 12 and then I played at random weddings and stuff and played the things that people wanted to hear. I became the popular story of the bored man that sits there at the the piano trying to entertain the whole crowd, sometimes for 6 to 8 hours, a whole evening! Then i had other bands and started studying musical theatre and through that I started to do more acting and next to the acting I decided to do my first album and recorded that in 2010 and released that in 2011 and there have have been 3 albums with the last in 2015. So it’s been 4 years! I’ll be recording my 4th album this year.
(Richard Rogers, Tom Beck)
RR: On Wikipedia Deutschland it mentions you’ve released 5 albums?
TB: Yes that is correct. Three studio albums and two live albums.
RR: My German was obviously not good enough to understand. Enshultigung!
TB: No worries.
RR: So who were your influences musically?
TB: Well i grew up in a very very small village where people would listen to everything basically from early bad German folk music to Schlager but personally my influences were rock’n’roll music, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Ray Charles because of the work on the piano. Then of course The Beatles and The Stones. So all the piano hand work stuff I was influenced by the British musicians. Paulo Nutini is one of my favourite musicians and I went to about 6 or 7 of his gigs and saw him live.
RR: Who are you signed up to, record company wise?
TB: Well basically i’m a freelancer. I released three albums on my own label but with a distribution company. This time round I don’t know whether to go off in search of a label or whether to do it myself. I don’t know, i’m not sure. I’m not represented by a publishing company either so I collect everything through GEMA. Unfortunately they don’t play my songs on the radio but I have a loyal and true fanbase and they have been here and accompanying me for the last ten years now. Like tonight here at the Koln Luxor Club there will be over 500 people here and it is sold out and that makes me really proud as I have no single out and no album out and they don’t play me on the radio so I just have a real and true fanbase. If I had a label of course it could get bigger. But I think why should I, I just need to use my accounts more with things like Instagram, use more footage and do more advertising for myself than I actually do. Maybe I would go with a label and would they want me? I don’t know. I’m not filming at the moment so i took the time to do this short 7 show tour and afterwards to do some recording and hopefully do an album.
RR: And where would you do that. In Berlin?
TB: I’m not sure yet. Maybe some in Berlin and some in Cologne because I have a few producer teams that I would like to work with, also one team in Munich. I don’t know if I’m going to produce one album with one producer, I used to do that but it’s like an old school way to do it. So maybe I will split it.
RR: The only problem with that is from an A&R perspective when it is split up into so many different production teams you lose the basis of the sound that maybe you were aiming for in the first place.
TB: Yes you are right. That is what I am afraid of actually. I’m afraid it’s not going to be one unique whole sound. I’ve got some friends who have got in 3 producer teams and it seems to work fine and you don’t hear any difference.
RR: The last Lily Allen album felt from a professional angle very dissipated. It’s completely split with lots of separate producers as opposed to her first albums with one production team. For me it’s too diverse, it’s totally incoherent as a piece of work and I think a mess in part. I thought it was a poor piece of A&R to be honest. So why the tour with nothing to promote?
TB: It’s just to keep my fanbase motivated and as the last tour was 4 years ago. I didn’t know how many people would turn up. It make me happy and proud.
RR: Good for you if you have nothing to sell. Re-connecting to the fans is a great way to go. I passed about 45 of them lining up for the gig (it was 3 o‘clock in the afternoon in the middle of a cold February afternoon). That means you have a particularly integrated fan base, did they come initially from what you were doing in music or from your acting career?
TB: Well the music came first but I became popular to most of the people out there in Germany due to the variety of TV series that I have been doing so yeah most people will know me from the TV. They started coming to the concerts 8 or 9 years ago from when I had my first concert and they are still there! The first gigs had about 1000 to 1500 people per show and about 500 of them just came to see the guy from the TV. I would rather be appreciated as a musician rather than the guy from the TV.
RR: Have you released any music outside of the GAS territories – Germany, Austria, Switzerland. AKA the DOS countries.
TB: No, all the albums have only been released in those 3 territories so if any labels come in there is a back catalogue to exploit. Everything is available on Spotify. The first two albums are completely in English and the second one was actually recorded in Nashville in the USA. It has more of a country vibe. The third album was the first one recorded in German and the next one will be in German as well. I felt strangely more comfortable writing in English. The German language is harder to sing, for example there are a lot of hard consonants so it doesn’t sound to smooth. You also need to be careful what you say in the land of the poets and intellectuals, as an idea if Ed Sheeran sang in German his songs he would not be successful because the lyrics would be too cheesy! It would sound like Schlager. It takes time to find your own language in German. It sounds weird I know. In fact I needed two years to experiment and write in German to feel comfortable with the language. It was tough writing in German at the beginning but it is very challenging to find unique German language in songs. Most of the time I am co-writing and I come to the session with a theme. Sometimes we jam to get a song started.
RR: You’ve been married for 6 months, is it what you were expecting?
TB: Yeah definitely. We have been together for 6 years before so I knew what i was going to expect.
RR: So for Valentine’s Day were you on the road?
TB: Well actually I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s the only day I don’t agree with it just because some industry tells me to celebrate that day. I can do that every day if I want and I can bring flowers and we can go out and have a great time together and I can tell her how much I love her.
RR: Well huge congratulations and good luck with this club tour.
TB: Thank you.