Scribble Victory takes a simple concept and runs with it — to make great music, all you need is a singing guitar player and a singing drummer. No frills. Oh, and write great songs too, which they do.
Jamie Thompson and Tomas Ward, of Derby, England, have perfected the minimalist two-man band. Listening to their honest, heartfelt songs and terrific harmonies is pure joy.
I first heard them when Jamie sent a link to their new album, “Expectations,” due out Oct. 1. I intended at the time to listen to just a snippet of it, but as “Graceful” played, I was drawn in and ended up listening to the whole four-song EP while messaging with Jamie at the same time, telling him how much I was enjoying it.
These are the musical discoveries that I live for and love to write about in my blog. I am very pleased to introduce Scribble Victory through this recent chat I had with both Jamie and Tomas.
I’m excited to be chatting with you today! You have been playing together three years — how did this come about?
Jamie: Thanks for having us. Well basically I’d written some songs that were a project for university. I asked Tom to drum on them. As time went on, we began jamming new songs in the practice room and these are the songs we play live. I’ve known Tom since I was 11 years old.
So you two are really keyed in on what works for you and what doesn’t …
Jamie: Yeah, I mean it was through trial and error really. We did a lot of experimenting, particularly with Tom’s drum set up. A full drum kit would overpower the acoustic guitar, and I didn’t want to play electric. The acoustic guitar had the right tone. So everything was thought out, even down to the sticks he plays with.
Do you share songwriting duties?
Tomas: We do indeed. Jamie comes up with the main guitar riffs for each song, along with the lyrics. We then both go into the practice room and work on the structure for the song and I come up with the drum parts. We also work together on the harmonies. Usually Jamie has an idea of where the harmonies would work best and we again come together to sing them in a way that compliment each other.
Is Jamie all lyrics or do you share that part too?
Tomas: Yeah, Jamie writes all of the lyrics!
Jamie: I’m a control freak, haha!
Tomas: But I trust his writing, so it’s a match made in heaven!
Oh oh, lol! Good thing! What sparks ideas for songs?
Jamie: Stuff that immediately affects me mostly. Like, I’m a worrier and I over think things a lot, so putting pen to paper or putting ideas down to a song helps me to release that worry or those burdening thoughts. Once they’re down it’s like I can draw a line under them.
Mostly girls though … Haha!
Having problems with them or trying to attract them?
Jamie: A bit of both. There was a track off the last EP we released called “My Paranoia Was Right” where I was stood up for a date. And then another song called “But Until Then” where I was confessing that I wasn’t really feeling the dates and was trying to make excuses. It’s pretty evenly balanced.
Ah, so it goes both ways … Both provide great ideas… When did you both know music was what you wanted to do?
Jamie: I’d love to say, as soon as I came into the world. But it was probably when I was 16. The head of my Sixth Form saw that I wasn’t really engaged in further education and asked me what I wanted to be. I said a songwriter and he seemed a bit shocked. I didn’t have the confidence to pursue it until the last few years though. Haha, I was a late bloomer!
Tomas: It’s pretty much the same for me too, we both started a band at 16 and played nu metal! I started playing drums and taught myself by playing in that band, and also it taught me a lot about the ups and downs of being in a band. Since then, I have always had a passion for drums and playing live in general. Now, it’s all I want to do. Since being in Scribble, I’ve learned how to sing and play drums at the same time, which also means sharing the reigns of being a front man of sorts, which has helped my confidence too. It’s something I never thought I would be able to do, but now music is pretty much all I think about!
Yes, it must take a lot of effort to be able to multitask like that — and to play drums standing up most of the time!
Tomas: It does! But it’s really worth it. It adds a visual appeal to our live set too.
You don’t need a huge stage to play, at least …
Jamie: He still takes up a lot of room, haha!
So which do you prefer — a small stage in an intimate setting or a huge stage at a festival?
Tomas: I think both have their merits to be fair. We love playing small stages because it gives you a chance to really interact with the audience and get a real feel of how our songs go down. A big part of our set is us trying to get the audience to have fun and be all-inclusive of everyone, so it means we can have a chat with people once we have finished. This is really important to us as we have made so many friends and fans just by taking the time to speak to people.
In regards to festivals, they are awesome to play because you get a real buzz when you get onto a big stage and see a lot of people looking back at you. It’s quite nerve-wracking, but in a good way. It sometimes makes you play a bit harder which means the intensity of the set increases, so hopefully people can feed off that too.
Do you find in a big setting like that that crowds can be standoffish at first until you warm them up?
Jamie: I think so, but then a lot of the time I think people who have never seen us before are trying to get their heads around what they’re seeing and hearing. We’ve had people come up to us afterwards and ask about our backing track and they can’t believe it when we say that there isn’t one. We kick in with the intensity and sound of a full band and there’s only two of us. I think we smash a lot of people’s perceptions of what a band can be … And even if we don’t, then people have been really kind and supportive to us.
Isn’t that great? I know when I started listening to you, I only meant to hear a track or two, but I was drawn in and listened to everything I could find! And to just be a two-man band definitely takes a lot of skill!
Tomas: Ah, thank you very much! It is good when some people enjoy our sets and our music, it means a lot to us that people are entertained by what we do. It does take a lot of work to get everything right, but when it comes together, it’s really worth all the hard work.
Jamie: That’s really nice thank you.
You are welcome! If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
Jamie: Nobody, hahaha. Nah, I’d probably be doing something creative.
Haha, lol … No, what would your career be?
Jamie: Maybe photography or acting.
Tomas: I literally have no idea! I often ask myself this and without music I have no idea what I’d do.
Jamie, serious or comedic acting?
Jamie: I’ve tried both. But I quite like playing the baddie. It’s more fun.
Kind of playing out of character then …
And Tomas, it’s a good thing you are a musician then!
Jamie: I like that! Yeah, well, I mean hopefully!
Tomas: I know right! I mean I do have a full-time job too, so I’d probably end up doing that.
What musical influences do you both have?
Jamie: At the moment we’re both into Modern Baseball, The Hotelier, American Football, Owen. A lot of American emo/punk stuff. We’re into other stuff too … Quite a lot of metal and then some electronica. I guess acoustic music is what we listen to the least.
Haha … But what you play most! Do you ever want to plug-in and let rip on an electric guitar?
Jamie: Haha, yeah sometimes! I’d love to be in a metal or a hardcore band and just go crazy. Scribble Victory kind of gives me a bit of that though.
How did you come up with the band name?
Jamie: I named a song Scribble Victory once in an old band. I wanted to call the band Scribble Victory but the other guys hated it. So, I thought I’d use it for my own songs to fall under. Where the name originally came from? I seriously can’t remember. But coming up with a band name is the hardest thing in the world. And I didn’t hate this one.
I like it … It fits you. Now the next album is due out Oct 1 … Tell me about it …
Jamie: Well, I guess it’s more of an Extended Play. It’s a collection of songs that we’ve been sitting on and playing live for ages. It wasn’t until people started asking us to release them that we thought that we ought to. I guess they’re all over a year old now to us, but they sort of showcase the next stage for us.
And it’s your third EP, so that speaks well of your music and how people are interested …
Tomas: Thank you! Yeah, it’s been a long road of playing lots of gigs and getting people on side with what we play, but it’s been a journey that has been so much fun. The fact that people like our music and want to see us and buy our music, makes us want to play and write as much as possible. We probably have another albums worth of stuff written at the minute, so we can’t wait to record and release that too!
Wonderful — keep the good tunes coming! Oh … I have to ask about busking … Do you do it? How does it go?
Tomas: We have never actually busked to be honest. It would be good to try some day, we would love to do it in some countries in Europe. We have toyed with the idea in the past, but I think the drums would be a bit too much to inflict on the general public!
Haha, lol … So what’s the five-year plan?
Jamie: Basically, we’d love to play overseas! That’s the dream. I’d love to see what other countries make of it. Otherwise, we want to continue writing and releasing and playing. We’ve made so many friends all over the UK because of this and I can’t see us giving it up.
I think you would do quite well over here, no worries! Get your foot through a door and kick it wide open.
Tomas: We would love to come over! That’s what I would love — if we could get on something like SXSW, it would be so cool.
Anything else you want to add?
Jamie: The EP “Expectations” will be available on Spotify and iTunes etc. on Oct. 1. And if you like what you hear, then please follow us on our social media.
You can find Scribble Victory on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/scribblevictory/, on Twitter at @ScribbleVictory, on the web at http://www.scribblevictory.com/, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8ydyC7cgJvyS7wn5hO0NTg and on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/scribblevictory.