Paul Sammon writes: I recently caught up with Tom Franklin, lead singer of up-and-comers Wood Burnt Red. Pinning him down on his busy schedule was no mean feat, but we found time to talk about what has been and what is yet to come for the predominantly Midlands-based Southern Rock band, before they take to the stage at Buckle & Boots this weekend. Plus there’s the not-so-small matter of a new single dropping this Friday…and the launch of their debut EP.
SSC: Hey Tom. Thanks for taking the time. I figured you could tell us about the band, where it all came from and such, away you go…
TF: Yeah, well we started at the back end of 2019. Mostly ‘coz no one was doing the modern country covers. We were a covers band to start off with, playing all the music we love and trying to get gigs that way. We did one or two gigs and then, of course, COVID hit and that put an end to it for a long time. Now, even though I love playing the covers, I’ve always wanted to have a band playing our own music, so I just got writing. Locked myself away most nights and wrote away.
When it all started easing off, back to practice and integrating them into our set and we just got to a point where we don’t want to do covers anymore. We wanna just play our own stuff.
SSC: That’s awesome. So, when you’re doing a pub gig is it just your own stuff now?
TF: We don’t really do many pub gigs anymore. People don’t wanna go to a pub and hear two hours of original music and songs they don’t know. We’re trying to get into venues and support other bands. Any gigs we’re honouring, the pubs are allowing us to play first half our stuff then second set back to the covers folks know. But we’re almost at the end of those now.
SSC: You’re three singles in now and the next one arrives this Friday. How’s that experience? Seeing your music out there and hearing it on the radio?
TF: It’s incredible. We actually played a gig at The Swan, a local pub we have good connections with, and that’s where we practice. We put on a couple of shows as a thank you and last week it was rammed. Never seen it so busy. To have people come from around town and stand at the front singing our songs was bizarre. Seriously, there’s no feeling like it, really. And the feedback is great as well. Asking when the next song is coming and stuff. The home support has been incredible. Let’s hope it can grow from there and see where it goes.
SSC: I see you’re at Buckle & Boots. That’s pretty amazing?
TF: Oh yes, that’s huge for us. A festival similar to The Long Road and you’ve got die-hard country fans there. So, if we can connect with them and they like what we’re doing that could be wondrous for us, y’know? Spreading the word and a bit more support. That could lead to some really good gigs. We’re on the Paddock Stage as the last band on so we’re calling it “Headlining” lol.
SSC: How did you get into league with Tim Prottey-Jones?
TF: My sister was working for Countryline Radio and was doing the “Country Lineup” podcast together with Tim, so when we were ready to get into the studio, she was able to pair us up with him and, to be honest, what he’s done to our music has been amazing. We feel we’ve got that American, sort of rocking country sound. A bit like Backwoods Creek and we’re hoping UK country fans will get on board and start to like it.
SSC: So, what is next? An upcoming EP I gather?
TF: Yep, it’s all done and dusted. And we have one more single Dead and Gone dropping on 26 May. We’ll have CDs ready for the Festival, and of course it’ll be released online as well.
SSC: You seem to be dropping a track every month or so. Is that an industry formula?
TF: There was a bit of a gap between All I Need Is You and Redneck. I don’t think we’d even recorded that second track when we released the first one. But now, we’re trying to stay relevant and give a regular reminder that we’re still here, making music.
SSC: You’re on the Official Buckle & Boots Spotify playlist as well. I know it must be tough, but you seem to be heading in the right direction.
TF: Yeah, but it’s tough for the right reasons. Nothing worth having comes easy so it makes everything, when it goes well, that much sweeter ‘coz you know how much you’ve put into it. And now we’re under the same management as First Time Flyers, Kezia Gill, Emilia Quinn and they’ve been amazing. ZimagineD have been pushing us in the right direction and they’ll open us up to the bigger scope of festivals and the press release side of it as well.
We’re at the BCMA Fanfest at Newark in July and we’re trying to sort some stuff out with Backwoods Creek and stuff like that as well. We’re keen for anything man, we’ll take it.
We’ve all been mates for a very long time. Myself and the bassist, Russ have been in bands since we were 14. I’ve played with Seb the guitarist since we were 18 and Eddie the drummer is new to this unit, but we’ve known each other for years. I’m an overhead linesman, Russ is an insurance salesman, Eddie is a plumber and Seb works in mortgage advising. We’re all family men with kids and having their support makes everything that bit more possible, y’know?
We all bonded over our love of country music; even the lesser know bands like Whiskey Myers or The Steel Woods. That sort of music plays a big part in our background. To love the same music and to love what we’re writing and playing, we feel like we’ve got it made and we truly feel very lucky.
SSC: So, in terms of musical influence, fair to say, it’s easy to see? Do you write music together as a band?
TF: I’ll write the bones of a song and then we’ll take it to practice and stick the flesh on. We have to give credit to Tim though, as well. We sometimes found we’d overwritten them. All I Need Is You was stripped right back, and he helped us simplify the driving parts of the song and we learnt a lot from that. We changed our writing going forward too. Knowing that we can work with someone that can add in some intricate bits or some keys maybe, we learned we didn’t need a riff every five seconds.
SSC: The singles have all done well so far?
TF: Yeah. I mean we had over one hundred thousand streams of All I Need Is You and many of them were in the States. And then Redneck was a bit more “us”, a bit more rocky. Our next single will be more rockier still but our current track, The Hills is what we would say is country and very personal to us. The Malverns are on our doorstep and, although we didn’t write this in lockdown, we all spent, albeit separately, a lot of time up there going for walks, clearing our heads. It’s a really special, meaningful place to us. If you’ve got a lot of stuff on your plate or you’re stressed out, it’s a hell of a place to go to relieve all that, hence the line “Better than the pills.” We can’t not pay homage to the sacred land we call home. It had to be written. Hopefully people can relate it to somewhere they know and appreciate it in their own way.
SSC: We can’t wait to see what’s in store for you guys and I’m sure Buckle & Boots will be a blast. Thanks for talking with us.
TF: You’re welcome. Stay in touch.
The band’s new single is available to pre-save here https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/woodburntred/dead–gone