| a mournfully elegant fierce panda one sheet
The Act: TOM HICKOX
The Release: 'WHITE ROSES RED’
The Format: DIGITAL SINGLE
The Release Date: FEBRUARY 24TH 2014
The Label: fierce panda records (The Catalogue Number: NING 263)
The Truth: Tom Hickox is a serious young man for serious times. He lives in downtown Camden, plays upright piano, sings with a snowfalling voice sufficiently deep, crisp and even to draw wise comparisons with Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave and, ever-attentive to the smallest of sartorial details, he wears three piece suits by day and by night time gig. The richly melodramatic ‘White Roses Red’ is going to be released on February 24th, the very day fierce panda records turns 20 years old. It’s going to be some kind of party.
‘White Roses Red’ is the first single to be taken from Tom Hickox’s debut album, ‘War, Peace & Diplomacy’, which is itself released on March 10th, although in November 2013 the track 'The Angel Of The North' appeared as a free download release designed to fan the flames in the lead up to this album release. Those flames have been fanned slowly, for this is sombre, serious music with fearsomely sad strings. The compelling video for ‘The Angel Of The North’ was filmed in the haggard southeastern seascape of Dungeness. Much like the song the video vibe was elegant, enigmatic and beautifully unsettling.
Considering that Tom's father was the late Richard Hickox CBE, one of Britain's most renowned classical conductors with over 280 recordings to his credit, it surely becomes obvious where this love for swelling strings and grandiose widescreen soundtracks comes from. Except with typical Hickoxian perversity Tom actually rejected classical music (“I knew as a kid I didn’t want to compete with my dad.”). Rather, he embarked upon on his own journey via Beckett, Pinter and rock'n'roll. Along the way there was an English degree at Manchester University to be studied for, drums in a school rock band to be battered and a solo DIY album to be released which, it was gleefully claimed, sounded like Four Tet collaborating with Scott Walker.
The most significant turning point may well have been listening to ‘Cole’s Corner’, Richard Hawley’s 2005 Mercury Award-worrying opus. “It was the first time I had really heard anyone contemporary in Britain making music that wasn’t far off what I had in mind, with his baritone voice and nuanced production, and really romantic sense of place.” So recalls Tom who, thanks to a series of fortunate events, was deeply flattered to eventually find himself in Sheffield, actually recording with the Hawley band, being produced by Colin Elliot and just generally living the slow-movingly dignified dream. ‘War, Peace And Diplomacy’ is the end result of those mightily respectful endeavours, and the start of a whole new adventure.
Live: Tom Hickox - Union Chapel - March 25th