British singer and songwriter RJ Thompson is definitely no newcomer to the music industry, but he is currently on the brink of a new chapter which could see him emerge as one of the best musicians to date. After writing his first song following one of U2’s concerts in Manchester and performing at local open mic. nights, RJ was asked to open a show for music legend Midge Ure. This opportunity led to three subsequent years of heavy touring around Germany with Midge Ure and the UK with Gabriella Cilmi, The Proclaimers, and Sandi Thom to name a few.
More recently, RJ joined iconic pianist Jools Holland on tour and together they performed in some of the most legendary venues around including the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. But somehow, RJ has still found the time to release an admirable total of five albums which are all still available to purchase. His last album, “Live,” came out in July 2016 and it paved the way for his newest single which is a cover of the Bob Dylan classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which you can purchase here and listen to below:
RJ decided to release the cover as his latest single after reflecting upon everything that has gone on in the world, both socially and politically, over the last few months. He felt that this was an ideal time to share the song and he recently stated that, “to me, this song stands as the perfect anthem for the disenfranchised. It is a call of arms to those who are worried, fearful, or angry with the hatred that is being spread around. The world feels a little less safe than it did twelve months ago and a little less accommodating to people of varying backgrounds. To me, that is something worth standing up and singing against.”
We recently got the chance to interview the lovely RJ Thompson. Find out what he said here:
Your latest single was released in a bid to stand up against everything that is going on in the world right now, but what was it about that particular Bob Dylan song which spoke to you?
“Dylan has always been a big influence on my writing, and his songs have been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. I have struggled over the years understanding the true meaning and the tone of,”The Times They Are A-Changin’,” – I guess having not grown up in that era it was difficult to understand the true message. Last summer however, I revisited the song and started to perform it at gigs and the reaction from the crowds showed me just how relevant it is today. It just resonates with people, the mark of a truly great song.”
You are a talented songwriter so what are your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing a song?
“My biggest inspirations, as strange as this may sound, are the musicians in my band. Working with so many good people over the past few years has opened my eyes to different ways of doing things, different ways of phrasing lyrics or melodies, ways to improve my guitar playing… Everything.”
You have covered some legendary songs over the years but which has been your favourite?
“Difficult question! We throw a cover version in at most shows just for fun. I’d say the strangest was probably a rockabilly version of OutKast’s, “Hey Ya,” – I mean, it didn’t fit at all with the rest of the set but it was a lot of fun!”
Throughout your career, you have had the chance to perform at some really iconic venues as well as some smaller venues and open mic. nights, but which kind of stage do you prefer and why?
“I actually don’t have a preference, although the Royal Albert Hall gig was really special. The bigger the stage the more freedom you have to perform, but then again smaller stages perhaps bring better atmospheres. To be honest, I’m just happy that I get to play to people who like what we do.”
You have performed with many musicians such as Jools Holland, Joss Stone, and Midge Ure but have any of them given you any advice or have you been able to take anything away from any of their performances?
“Midge gave me a bit of advice that I’ll always remember. It was to write every song, regardless of if you think it will work. Write it. If it doesn’t work, don’t throw it away… Part of it may form the basis of your next idea.”
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
“I grew up listening to a pretty varied mix of stuff… Dylan, Springsteen, Michael Jackson, early Elvis. They’ve all had an influence. Whether you can hear that influence in my music, I’m not sure!”
If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, who would it be and why?
“Springsteen, because I want to know his secret of how he’s still playing three to four hour shows in his late 60s!
If you could go back in time and tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
“Listen to, “Darkness On The Edge Of Town,” earlier. It’ll change your life!”
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
“I have this Dylan song coming out and then after that we’ll be releasing a couple more singles and an album later in the year. Some big tour dates are coming too!”
Finally, do you have a message for your fans?
“Just a genuine heartfelt thank you!”
We want to say a massive thank you to RJ Thompson for taking time out of his busy day to speak to us and we’re wishing him the absolute best of luck with his new single.
Don’t forget to buy it on iTunes, here!
Do you love RJ’s cover of The Times Are A-Changin’ as much as we do? Did you enjoy his exclusive interview with us? Let us know on Twitter, @CelebMix.