10 years ago, Billy Lockett came to huge attention, notably in the UK, when he toured with KT Tunstall. Three EPs, a family tragedy and a long and hard battle with sobriety later, this past week he released his debut album ‘Abington Grove.’
The album marks a vast shift in Billy’s sound and song-writing style with his new songs, including “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” which addresses mental health, having more of an intimate, personal touch. XS Noize caught up with him to find out more about the new collection and how he feels about being compared to Lewis Capaldi.
Tell me a little about your new track “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself.” How did you come to write it and what made you think it was the right choice to release as the focus single of your debut studio album?
Yeah, “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” is about mental health generally speaking. It’s about being kinder to yourself and trying to live in the present rather than worrying about the future. It’s a real lesson to myself. I feel like writing this song has been almost a type of therapy for me. It’s definitely the anthem off the album and the song that really rounds the whole thing off nicely. It’s also a hopeful song which is very rare for me.
Where does the title of your new album, ‘Abington Grove’, come from?
Abington Grove is the street my dad’s house was on. He passed away 9 years ago but in those 9 years, I’ve spent most of the time in the cellar writing and recording the album. The whole thing was made in that house and so in my eyes, it couldn’t be called anything else.
How would you say this collection differs from and shows your development and growth as an artist when you look back on your previous releases, the ‘Burn It Down’, ‘Reset’ and ‘Reflections’ EPs?
This album has no barriers at all. With my previous work, I feel like I’ve tended to play it safe and stick to mainly ballads because that’s what people would always tell me “worked the best” but with this album, I wanted to show more, partly from the boredom of just a piano and vocal but also because it was fun! I just had fun making this album and luckily my new team really embrace me trying new things – so yeah this album is a real evolution in my eyes.
What did producer Barney Cox bring to the creative process of ‘Abington Grove’ and what was/is it about him that made you think he was the perfect guy to help you create this album?
I’ve worked with hundreds of producers in my life, literally hundreds…and Barney Cox is the best suited for me. Aside from the fact that everything he does just sounds insanely good, he was very easy to work with. We would almost always have the same vision and when we didn’t, it was normally because I was wrong haha! I think we complement each other well; he plays the guitars, and I play keys, so together we had everything covered in the studio as all the drums were programmed in. I think with Barney, he’s great at problem-solving with songs; whenever I was stuck he seemed to effortlessly fix it in seconds. He made making this album easy and when it feels easy you can really start to enjoy the process.
Which track on the album would you say is your favourite right now and why?
I think right now my favourite track is “Miss Missing You” but I don’t know whether that’s just because it’s doing so well and it’s on the radio that I like it more haha! That can definitely play a part but overall, it’s a hard question because I really honestly love every song for totally different reasons. I feel like I’ve managed to write an album of singles here; I just love it so much.
Is there any particular song you think listeners will really connect and relate to?
I personally toverthinkns will love “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself” because it’s a great message. It’s hopeful and I also think a lot of people over think and beat themselves up constantly. I think this song has the power to help a lot of people and that gives me goosebumps because it’s so much bigger than just a song. That’s the beauty of music – it can be a ryour eal healer and I hope this song nails that.
What would you say is the message and purpose to/behind this album – both for you and fans? What does it represent, personally and professionally?
I think the message of this album is never going to be one thing, I think first and foremost I’ve tried to make something entertaining. I want people to just enjoy it, have fun with it, cry to it, learn lessons from it – everything! I personally tried to make something with no filler; I want people to press play and not stop until the end. I’ve tried to write an album with no specific intention so it can work in literally any situation or setting.
You’ve been cited as the “English Lewis Capaldi” – do you mind such a comparison?
I’ll take that haha! Lewis is one of the most talented artists on the planet, I’ve thought that from day one; way before the world knew it, so to be compared to him is an honour.
You earned yourself huge attention ten years ago supporting KT Tunstall on tour (I saw you at Bridgewater Hall and thought you were great!) – what recollections do yand ou have of that time in your life and the success it gave you?
Wow yeah, that’s a blast from the past! It was an incredible tour, I think that really chof anged my life, at the time I wasn’t r,eady for the attention but it definitelgame-changerway for everything leading to this moment releasing the album. Before that tour I’d only played pubs so it was a real game changer. Looking forward to a lot more touring this year that’s for sure!
I feel very lucky to have done some amazing shows but I still think the two that stand out are The Roadmender in Northampton just because it was a hometown show where my mum and best friends came to and also Shepherds Bush Empire – that was the biggest headline I’d ever done and it just felt like a real unforgettable benchmark in my life.
So what tour plans are in the works to support Abington Grove?
Lots! We will be touring the album a lot this year in the UK and hopefully Europe and America; we’re just trying to sort all the dates out at the moment.
Having been in the industry now for over a decade, you’ll no doubt be aware of the boom of social media and the impact it has on artists and their careers. With that in mind, how do you feel about the likes of Twitter and Facebook – do you like to be interactive and connected with fans or are you more someone who lets your music speak for itself?
I definitely feel like social media has helped; I really show everything about myself and my career on there. I don’t like holding back – I like to keep my followers totally up to date and in the loop with where I’m at. I think for me personally, the journey and story is all part of the process and the music. It’s all one world; I like my fans to be living with me.
With this new chapter of your life and career underway, what’s next for you? What plans do you have for the coming months and years and how bright does thisand new Billy Lockett foresee his future being?
I think things are a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment with the album coming out, so much radio play and touring; it’s hard to even think about too far ahead in the future. All I know is I’m extremely grateful for everything that’s happening at the moment and I’m just trying to live in the present and enjoy it. BRITs and Grammys would be nice don’t get me wrong, but right now I’m just happy to be enjoying my work and having a busy diary. I’m definitely riding on a big wave right now and I’m loving every second of it.
BILLY LOCKETT 2023 INSTORE + UK TOUR DATES
Weds 26 Apr – Sheffield, Leadmill Steel Stage
Thu 27 Apr – Manchester, Manchester Academy 3
Fri 28 Apr – Brighton, Patterns
Sun 30 Apr – Bournemouth, Canvas
Wed 3 May – Oxford, The Bullingdon
Thu 4 May – London, Cadogan Hall
Sat 6 May – Birmingham, O2 Institute 3
Sun 7 May – Newcastle, The Cluny