An Interview with Tom Hewson of Tailgunner

Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Tom Hewson of indie Metal outfit, Tailgunner. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, Tailgunner’s newest music, Tom’s musical origins, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

Andrew:
Tom, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Tom:
Hey man! Thanks for having me. The last year has been pretty great for me personally, as well as the band. The plan for 2021 was to record the debut album and then get everything that follows in place ready for launching in 2022, so we’ve been busy! We recorded in an old Victorian chapel and brought in the studio ourselves, living together and making the debut. That was my personal highlight. 

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music? 

Tom;
The first music I remember hearing was when I was around two or three. Someone in my family bought me Abbas’ Greatest Hits on tape. Obviously, I was too young to take much away from it…but I do think that had an impact in the long run. Years later, I came home from school one day with the riff to “Smoke On The Water” stuck in my head. My dad overheard me singing it and sat me down with the Back In Black record. The moment “Hells Bells” kicked in…it was like my whole world suddenly went from black and white to color. I was me. That night, I heard Maiden, GN’R, and The Sex Pistols for the first time. Never looked back! 

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences? 

Tom:
I was obsessed with ACϟDC and Punk when I was a kid, then Guns N’ Roses around the time I left school, and then Maiden as an adult. I was talking to a friend I grew up with recently, and we were saying it was funny how even from a young age we never listened to any current Rock or Metal. Just straight in with all the classics…Twisted Sister, Dio, Motörhead, etc.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events Tell us about your new single, “Guns For Hire.” Tell us about the upcoming album, and how it came together.

Tom:
“Guns For Hire” is the debut single from what will be our first record. It’s one of the very first songs I wrote for Tailgunner — and the one I asked a couple of musicians who were in bands at the time to track on the demo, so I could shop it around. Those guys were Craig and Zach, who both ended up joining. I wanted a song about us as a band, and what being into Heavy Metal means as a whole, especially in the modern day. A take on the world with backs to the wall type of tune. A call to arms. 

Andrew:
Let’s dig into the lyrical themes on your new album. What message, and emotions are you trying to convey? What do you want your listeners to take away from this record?

Tom:
Heavy Metal to me is power. It doesn’t matter so much exactly the style, it’s all escapism. It lifts us up and gives us a spirit to face down anything. People can take from it what they like, but I hope it’s an immersive listen, something to get lost in. Ultimately, I want them to feel empowered. That’s how my favorite records make me feel. 

Andrew:
Going back a bit now. Take me through the formation of Tailgunner. You guys have a classic vibe. Who would you say you model yourselves against the most?

Tom:
Going right back to late 2017, I was working nights at a shitty job, but it did give me plenty of time to check out music. I’d always been into Metal, my first gig was Maiden — but those shifts were my true descent into the depths. I very quickly fell in love with Helloween’s Keeper of the Seven Keys records and skipped work to see them a couple of weeks later. After that, I bought a very cheap guitar, started writing riffs, and when I felt I had enough, began trying to form my own band. 

Everyone else in this band was in other projects around the country when I first spoke to them but eventually became free. It took around two years of work to find everyone and bring them in…I even made a ten-hour round trip to Liverpool to go see Craig’s and Sam’s last band, and meet them!

In terms of our influences, we all love the “new wave of British Heavy Metal,” and almost anything that relates before or after. To name a handful of the bigger bands…Iron Maiden, Helloween, Megadeth, King Diamond, and Judas Priest. 

Andrew:
Easy one’s now. What are a few of your favorite albums, and why?

Tom:
Appetite For Destruction is my personal favorite. It’s one I don’t play quite as much now, but those songs are such a huge part of my life. Somewhere In Time is my number one Metal album. It may have been a stepping stone for Maiden, but that stepping stone is the greatest Metal record there is. I bought the guitar amp used on that album, just because of that album! Helloween’s Keepers albums, King Diamonds Abigail, Rust In Peace, Rainbow Rising, Demons’ The Unexpected Guest for a lesser-known classic. All of those albums are perfect. 

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Tom:
I love football [soccer], rock climbing, and making sushi. There isn’t much cross-over with music, but I do think you have to get out and live life in order to write about it…inspiration comes in surprising ways. 

I like film, and history too. I wrote our song, “Shadows of War,” in late 2018, but the lyrics were much later in 2020. Shortly after moving to London, I decided to take a trip by myself to the imperial war museum, with the intention to gather lyrics. Most of the lines in that song are direct quotes from First World War soldiers! 

Andrew:
What sort of equipment do you use in the studio, and the live setting?

Tom:
The band uses Kramer, Jackson, BC Rich, and LTD guitars, Fender Bass’, Marshall, Gallien Kruger, and Blackstar Amps, and a load of different pedals…and the same live!

Both Zach and Craig are pretty well versed in recording, which allowed us to produce our own album, which worked out great.  

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? CDs? Cassettes? Or are you all digital now? If you do collect physical media, why is that important to you? Why do you feel keeping physical media alive is important in this day and age?

Tom:
I think all of us collect vinyl! Of course, streaming is the most practical way to listen to music these days, and I’ve managed to discover a huge amount of great tunes through Spotify, and YouTube. Bands that simply aren’t big enough for me to ever come across their records. Nothing can beat the feeling of searching through record shops, finding something you love, and taking it home though, can it? I live in London, and love to go record hunting around Soho. 

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world? Do you plan on hitting the road, or playing any festivals in 2022?

Tom:
Right now we’re concentrating on press ahead of releasing “Guns For Hire.” Then, the band will launch on New Year’s Day 2022! We’ll be releasing singles regularly over the course of the year before dropping the full album in January 2023. We have a small headline tour booked for March 2022, and the plan is to follow that with at least two more, as well as working on the right support tours to jump on, and an eye on getting over to mainland Europe. We want to take our music to as many people as possible! 

Interested in learning more about the music of Tailgunner? Check out the links below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Inspired by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Eddie Trunk, coupled with an immense passion for music, and a disposition for writing, freelance journalist Andrew Daly moved to found VWMusic in 2019. Over time, VWMusic has grown into a bustling music outlet harboring a staff who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles, interviews, and more. In addition to running VWMusic, Andrew is also an accomplished freelance journalist, currently writing for Copper Magazine, as well as a drummer, and lover of all things guitar.
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