Tom Ogden of Blossoms

by Dan MacIntosh

Blossoms is a five-piece from Stockport, which is near Manchester, England. But this act is closer to Manchester in more ways than just geographically. Much like The Smiths and Oasis, two of the city's more notable exports, Blossoms deftly mixes a rock and roll aesthetic along with a keen melodic pop sense. Songs like "At Most a Kiss" and "Texia" find the act cranking up the dance grooves, while "My Favourite Room" reveals the group's sensitive side.

Songfacts caught up with the group's singer, Tom Ogden, in the band's trailer after their set at Coachella 2017.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): The second song you did today, "Texia," reminded me of Blondie. And Blondie was one of the few bands, at the time, that could artfully mix disco with rock. I thought you guys did the same thing. Am I off base by saying that might have been an inspiration?

Tom Ogden: No. That song, we had a couple of versions. That song was around for a long time. We tried it in a few different ways. We did it in the studio with James Skelly of The Coral, who produced our album. It came together more when he kind of got a grip of it.

We had a similar riff to what it is now. We substituted it for mellotron strings, and the disco element is from Charlie's [Salt] bass playing. Charlie's a big fan of disco, and we are as well. "Love is in the Air" by John Paul Young, the Australian singer, is the influence. That was just what we were playing when we thought of "Love is in the Air."

The track we played before that, the opening song "At Most a Kiss," people often say that reminds them of "Call Me" by Blondie. Blondie was definitely a big influence on us - they fused guitars and synths the way we do. The fact that you say Blondie, we like that.

Songfacts: You play a Rickenbacker, and I'm an old-school guy and love seeing that. Are there some classic rock elements that have inspired your sound as well?

Tom: Yes, throughout the years. But what would you classify as classic rock?

Songfacts: '60s, '70s...

Tom: Yeah. The Beatles and all that.

Songfacts: Anybody that doesn't say they're influenced by The Beatles is either an idiot or a liar.

Tom: Not Guns N' Roses, and stuff like that.

Songfacts: Talk about the songs you're most proud of as a songwriter. When I say that, are there any songs that come immediately to mind?
Tom: "Blown Rose," which is a song we played maybe six songs in. That came from an acoustic guitar riff. Many songs come from a riff on the keyboard, and then you'll write the rest of the song, but that song was literally old school, just me and the guitar. That guitar I played was from James Skelly of The Coral. It's the first thing I wrote on that guitar. It's the only thing I ever wrote on it. It was like that song was hidden inside that guitar.

Songfacts: I've heard that. It almost seems mystical. Do you believe it?

Tom: It's probably a little bit of placebo. If you get a new keyboard, and you change it from one you've had for years, you feel like you got all the songs out of that keyboard. Then you get a new one and there's all those songs are hidden in it.

Songfacts: I heard that Johnny Marr had given a guitar to Noel Gallagher.

Tom: Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys said that when he wrote "Do I Wanna Know," that big song from their last album, he felt like that riff was hidden in the walls of that guitar. He plays that riff on a 12-string guitar.

Songfacts: Let's build on that a little bit. Is there a mystical element to songwriting? An artist will say, "A song just came to me." They'll write a song in, like, five or ten minutes. It was like something was writing the song through them. Has that ever happened to you.

Tom: I'd say "Blown Rose" was one of them, as well.

Songfacts: Did you write it quickly?

Tom: I write most of my songs quite quickly, to be honest with you. At least the ones that stick around. The best ones come really quickly.

Songfacts: That's what most people say.

Tom: "Getaway" is the quickest song I wrote. I think that's a great song on its own, on the acoustic, as well. I wrote that in like five minutes.

Songfacts: And there are songs that take time. Tom: Like that song, "Texia," the middle eight for that song was written in the studio, but the rest of the song was around for, like, two years before that.

Songfacts: Who are the songwriters you would say most influenced you?

Tom: Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher, Paul McCartney, John Lennon. All the classics.

Songfacts: Not Bon Jovi?

Tom: No, I hate Bon Jovi. I can't stand Bon Jovi.

Songfacts: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Tom: Yeah, like Cher's "Believe." I like that song. You can strip that back. The DMA's did a great version of it, and they stripped it back and showed what the song was. Like Britney Spears' "Toxic." That's a great pop song.

Songfacts: I think someone like Lady Gaga is a pretty amazing songwriter.

Tom: She was a songwriter before she was Lady Gaga, right?

Songfacts: Right. Can you think of songs that impact your fans the most? Are there any songs that get more response than others?

Tom: Some songs have gotten radio exposure, so they've gained a lot of attention. There's a song called "My Favorite Room" which I play on just an acoustic guitar and the crowd will sing back every single word.

Songfacts: What does that feel like? I'm a writer, so I don't know what it's like to hear somebody singing back my songs.

Tom: It's surreal. Some of the best feelings.

Songfacts: Are you happy with everything that's come with success?

Tom: Yeah.

Songfacts: So, the songs that have become singles, are not songs you're going to regret one day?

Tom: We like pop songs, so a lot of songs we write can be singles.

June 20, 2017.
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