Hull’s finest, The Paddingtons, were one of the biggest names in the 2000s’ homegrown guitar scene. Signed by legendary indie impresario Alan McGee, they toured with everyone from The Libertines to The Cribs before disappearing in a puff of smoke in the early 2010s.
Now, a decade after the last Paddingtons release, frontman Tom Atkin has launched his solo project, with the brilliantly scrappy and trappy ‘Lil Fucker’ – the first track from a forthcoming EP of the same name, released November 9.
We gave him a call at his home in north London to ask where the hell he’s been and what happens next – as well his love of Post Malone and the term ‘indie landfil’…
Hello Tom. It’s 10 years since you last put out any music – why release your solo project now?
Tom: “I think lockdown definitely did play a part. It just made me realise that I should probably be concentrating on the things that are important to me. For the past 10 years I’ve had a weird relationship with music. I didn’t fall out of love with it, life just took a bit of a different turn. There was never really an end to the Paddingtons, and I like to think there’ll never be an end, but there was definitely a different path I was going down – I had a daughter, who’s nine now, and my kid was my priority and music took a backseat. I was a stay at home dad though, so I was always dabbling with stuff…”
Why did you want the world to hear these new songs?
“They’re the most personal songs that I’ve ever written, to be honest. ‘Lil Fucker’ is about me taking things for granted and losing myself a little bit and not really knowing who I am. I lost touch with myself.”
Did you use that track as a kind of therapy?
“I definitely did. I wrote 10 songs in the same period, but these ones just stood out and made a nice little EP. There’s a story throughout the whole thing. I wasn’t getting on with myself and the relationship with my daughter’s mum was all over the place. It sounds really emo. We never hated each other but it was a weird time and we were breaking up – some of it’s based around that. Now we have a really good relationship, which is amazing.”
Is it scary putting out something that personal and letting everyone know your inner thoughts?
“Kind of, yeah! Not even because it’s so personal, but also because I’ve held it off for so long as well. I’ve missed it so much, especially playing shows, being on tour with my best mates and being in the studio with someone that you’re comfortable with.”
When did you start writing the songs on the EP?
“This specific bunch I started four years ago actually. I met Luis Felber, who produced it, and it felt like we were on the same page. I hadn’t had that band and team mentality since writing with The Paddingtons. Having somebody that you bounce off and be creative with played such a bit part. We started chatting about releasing it during lockdown. That’s when we finished it all off and gave it the final touches over email and the phone.”
‘Lil Fucker’ has a Post Malone style sound. What else was feeding into the ideas for it?
“In my 20s I was into Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins as well as The Cribs, who were our touring friends as well as being an influence musically, but now there’s definitely a trap and rap influence. The DIY movement online, and people like Lil Peep, were an amazing discovery for me. I used to be part of such a DIY movement and community and it felt like they were doing the same thing. Some of my old bandmates don’t get why I’m into Post Malone, but I can’t help it!”
Does the rest of the EP sound similar?
“Each song is actually quite different. The next single is the closest to The Paddingtons. It’s punky and more upbeat. It’s called ‘Honey My Brain Fell Out’, but I might rename it! I want to release a track every month or every six weeks.”
And will there be an album?
“Definitely. Me and Luis have started working on what’s gonna be an album [for] next year. We’ve got a bunch of songs already for that which I’m really excited about. I wouldn’t be against playing some socially distanced shows too – probably in the New Year though, because I don’t have a band yet. I have people in mind and I’ve chatted to a few people though…”.
The Paddingtons reformed for a handful of shows back in 2017 – how did they come about?
“I live around the corner from Carl Barat and we bump into each other quite a bit. He said The Libertines were doing a bunch of shows and asked us if we wanted to play with them in Hull. We thought it’d be loads of fun to play together again, and off the back of that we ended up doing a little tour of our own.”
Do you think you’d ever make new music with The Paddingtons?
“I wouldn’t be against it, I’d be up for that, but honestly I don’t know if that would ever happen. I started doing a podcast called 22 Grand Pod during lockdown and we did a Paddingtons one the other night. We’re all still really cool with each other, even after all the shit that we went through. We lost touch for a little bit, but we’re all really tight again now.”
What other episodes of the podcast are worth a listen?
“The one with Alan McGee is quite good. He always has some great stories. And the one with Kyle [Falconer] from The View is good too, he’s a nutter. The Cribs ones are probably my favourite though because I’m such a big fan. It just feels like me catching up with my mates. It’s a good chance for me to reminisce, it’s very nostalgic.”
The Paddingtons made it onto VICE’s Indie Landfill list. What did you make of it?
“I actually found it quite funny to read, even though it was kind of slagging me off a little bit. I guess there was love in there but it sounded like someone was really bored, like ‘We haven’t got anything else to write about at the minute, so let’s just have a go at them lot!’ I guess it’s easy to criticise something like that from the past but it’s not really relevant at the minute. I thought it was really harsh on some people, but Mark Beaumont’s response to it hit the nail on the head. Hats off to Mark.”
‘Lil Fucker’ by Tom Atkin is out now