If new singer-songwriter Laurence Fox looks familiar, that’s because he is. Part of the Fox acting dynasty – his father is actor James Fox, his cousin Emilia Fox, brother-in-law The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade and wife actress and former popstar Billie Piper – he’s best known for his role in Inspector Morse spin-off show Lewis, which finished its decade long run last year.
He’s now decided to swap the screen for the studio and will be releasing his first album, ‘Holding Patterns’, on February 5. NME spoke to Laurence about the album, his open mic sessions and the his love of Bruce Springsteen.
Going from actor to musician can be quite a risky business – how are you approaching it?
“I don’t expect anything. And also, it’s not shit, so I don’t really care. I mean, I didn’t really have a choice – I had to do it. And I’d much rather it was shite but I did it, than not doing it and regretting it later in life.”
You’re 37 – why release your debut album now?
“That’s how long it took me to do, really! I did an EP [‘Sorry For My Words’, 2013], and that was just played to people and then it got played on the radio and then Caroline [record label] said that they wanted me to do an album so I did an album!”
How long have you been writing music?
“The first time I picked a guitar up I was 20, and I’d probably written my first song when I was 21. I was very happy with it because the first song I ever wrote is the main single on the album. Which is really weird!”
Are there any themes running through the record?
“Someone said to me the other day that there was quite a lot of hope in it and quite a lot of just anger as well. I think it’s probably loosely going from me not knowing what to do, to knowing what the fuck to do. I’m writing about me, and I’m writing about friends, and tunes about my wife, and songs about my little children, and about my ex-girlfriend…”.
Musically, who do you look up to?
“I go through phases. I’m quite liking Daughter at the moment. Elbow, The National…”.
And who are your all time greats?
“All time great is Springsteen. I really like ‘The Rising’ and ‘Devils and Dust’. All his albums are pretty great, even ‘Tunnel of Love’ has brilliant songs on it.”
You honed your music on the open mic scene. Whereabouts were you playing?
“All over the shop. The first time I played in front of someone – in front of anybody – was in Acton, my cousin made me do it. It was actually someone else’s gig, and he was ‘go on, go on, do it’, and then that was it.”
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Have you totally stopped acting to focus on music?
“I am doing a play at the Park Theatre, London this year [The Patriotic Traitor, Feb 17 – Mar 19], which I really wanted to do. Then hopefully it’ll be straight back to the music. Who knows? Who knows?”
Your wife, Billie Piper, had a successful music career – has she offered you any advice about the music industry?
“‘Run a mile Laurence, run a mile!’ Her experience was different. She was plucked out when she was still really young, her success bought other people houses! So it’s a different thing – I’m not sure she has the fondest memories.”
What’s the plan for 2016?
“Festivals and touring, once the play is finished.”