Life Under Lockdown #7 – Jeremy Thoms (Stereogram Recordings/The Cathode Ray)

The Cathode Ray 1st November 2019

This is going to date things, but I first became aware of the Cathode Ray as friends of acts and other people on MySpace! Once I’d worked out that they were a band and featured Neil Baldwin of TV21 on bass I finally managed to hear them and, unsurprisingly liked them straight away. Initially a co-writing project between Jeremy Thoms and Paul Haig, Pauls’ departure left Jeremy to steer the band through 3 excellent LPs to date, most recently last year’s ‘Heightened Senses’ .

Jeremy also runs Stereogram Recordings with assistance from Innes Reekie. AS well as releasing the Cathode Ray’s records, Stereogram has an impressive roster and have released records by James King & The Lonewolves, Roy Moller, St Christopher Medal and the Band of Holy Joy to name but a few. Currently the pair are also presenting a weekly show on Boogaloo Radio. (MPT)

First things first, how are you and how are you doing?

I am well thanks and managing pretty well so far. As a self employed DJ and musician I am fairly used to being at home quite a bit during the day. It’s only really weekend evenings that are different.

How has the lockdown affected you personally?

Home life has changed in that my wife is working from home and my ten year old son is home schooling. This obviously affects how much I can get done during the day. Also I haven’t seen my eldest son since it all began although we Skype fairly regularly. Otherwise I am keeping in touch with family and friends so I am fortunate in not feeling isolated.

As a musician, has it directly affected you and in what ways?

Being more of a studio based musician, rather than a regularly gigging one, I’ve not been affected drastically. Obviously any gigs or rehearsals with The Cathode Ray are on hold for the time being, but it has allowed me time to get on with writing and demoing new material, which is a positive.

There have been a lot of artists and performers finding ways to connect with their audience. How have you, if you have, engaged with people and how did you find the experience?

It’s been suggested by a few people that I should perhaps do a lockdown performance in my front room and it’s something I’m considering. It’s just a case of selecting the right material that would work in that stripped back format.

What tips do you have or what things do you find useful in keeping yourself going during these strange times?

Keeping some kind of routine I find quite useful. Having the family here working and home schooling means I can’t just drift into some sort of twilight zone, which I suppose might have been possible if I was on my own!

Have you taken on any new challenges or routines during lockdown?

Not massively. Innes Reekie and I have found a way to continue doing our show for Boogaloo Radio utilising Skype so Innes can beam in from across town. And I suppose I’m walking more and doing a bit more cooking, but I tended to be in charge of that side of things before lockdown anyway. I guess every day is a challenge to some degree!

What music, books, films, art or television shows have sustained you through lockdown?

Lots! I’m currently reading John Lydon’s ‘Anger Is An Energy’, which is a fascinating insight into a very singular character. The last fiction was ‘Clock Dance’ by Anne Tyler, so quite a contrast!

Music wise, I always listen to a wide variety of old and new stuff, with recent releases from Wire, Lloyd Cole and The Orielles heading up the latter. On the oldies front I’ve been delving into various back catalogues, including hardy perennials The Velvet Underground, early Simple Minds (they’ve never been hip, but the 79-81 era is full of gems), Banshees (particularly ‘Tinderbox’, which is a lost gem), Gabriel era Genesis, Costello/Bacharach, Dylan and a John Barry anthology. While writing this I’ve just heard the sad news about Florian Schneider, so I expect Kraftwerk may be getting an airing too. Plus all the music we choose for the Boogaloo Radio shows. I’ve also been following Rufus Wainwright’s online daily “Quarantunes” which have thrown up many delights.

Movie wise, I’ve got a couple of Woody Allen boxsets, so I’ve been reaquainting myself with him. He’s a controversial figure these days, but I’m still a fan of his 70s and 80s films. Plus I watched ‘The Elephant Man’ for the umpteenth time the other night which never fails to amaze. I think my David Lynch box set might be next. Also Julian Schnabel’s concert film of Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’. For more general family viewing we watched ‘The Incredibles 2’ and ‘Toy Story 4’, both worth a pop if you have kids.

I’m fortunate enough to always be surrounded by art, since my father was an artist and had many artist friends, but I’ve also been watching Grayson Perry’s Art Club on TV which is highly entertaining. And Friday Night Dinner is always good for a laugh.

Additionally we enjoy Duglas T Stewart’s weekly online quiz which we do as a family.

What are your hopes for a post-lockdown world?

Not to sound too hippy dippy but hopefully it’ll be a less polluted, more considerate world – generally taking all the positives from the current situation I guess.

Anything else that you would like to add or say?

Looking forward to seeing everyone down the front at the next gig – if and when that ever happens!

Previously on Life Under Lockdown:

#1 – Lonelady
#2 – Jan Burnett (Spare Snare)
#3 – Ghari Mure (Echo Machine)
#4 – Lomond Campbell
#5 – Adam Ross (Randolph’s Leap)
#6 – Jason Brown (Brix and the Extricated/Parent)