Singer songwriter Sandi Thom, better known for her debut hit single I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) has just released her fourth album, Flesh and Blood and is set to play in the region in November. etc’s Marie Westmoreland chatted to the star about her love of vintage flea markets, leather jackets and her new album…
When Scottish singer Sandi Thom released her debut single the folk song became an instant hit.
But the performer says her fourth album, Flesh and Blood – which follows her critically acclaimed 2010 album Merchants and Thieves – has an altogether different sound.
“People who only know me for Punk Rocker won’t recognise me on this album, they are going to find another side to me,” said Sandi, who has been living in California for the past two and a half years with her partner and blues guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. As part of her autumn tour, Sandi will play at The Sage, in Gateshead, on November 6.
“It’s such a great venue and one I always try to include on any UK tour.
“I’m really excited for the music from the album to finally be in people’s lives. It’s been so long in the making and it will be such a rewarding feeling when it’s finally out there,” said Sandi.
The bold, blues-inspired album is very honest and delves into personal life experiences.
It was produced by The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson and features an all-star ensemble including drummer Steve Gorman and fellow Black Crowe Audley Freed, plus a number of respected Nashville stars.
Special guest appearances come from acclaimed singer and songwriter Buffy Sainte Marie (famous for Up Where We Belong) and legendary saxophonist Bobby Keys, who collaborated with the Rolling Stones.
The album also features a number of covers including Help Me by Sonny Boy Williamson II, a reworking of Nirvana’s In The Pines and Buffy Sainte Marie’s The Big Ones Get Away.
Sandi said: “There is something on there for everyone. It’s one of those albums that harps back to the classic times of the ’60s and ’70s.
“To work with Buffy was huge. It was literally the highlight of my career. She had a lot of good things to say about me, I think her exact words were ‘you’re a powerhouse girl’.
“I first heard The Big Ones Get Away when I was six years old and it really struck a chord with me. It was the first time I thought about being a singer.”
In the ’90s, Sandi was a fan of Nirvana and loved their acoustic version of old blues song In The Pines, which was one of the reasons for the reworking of the track.
She added: “I loved the way Kurt Cobain sang it. The fact that it was originally a blues song kind of made sense to me, so I rewrote some parts, added verses and an arrangement in keeping with the blues style.”
The ’90s was also a time when Sandi liked to wear Dr Martens and die her hair blue. Now she prefers sifting through flea markets for vintage one-off pieces and riding horses along the Californian coastline.
Where is your favourite place to shop?
I live in California and the best thing about being there is the flea markets. Every second Sunday at The Rose Bowl Stadium there is an enormous flea market. It’s not just clothes, there’s lots of vintage stuff, the vintage jewellery is just the best. You can get so many things from there that you’d never find in a high street store. It’s really cool. It’s like being a kid in a candy store, sifting through it and finding little gems.
What’s your wardrobe weakness?
Jewellery, vintage rings and necklaces. I’m a bit of a jacket fiend, I have an awful lot of jackets, leather jackets are probably my favourite.
What is the most you have ever spent on a piece of clothing?
Probably shoes, Prada boots. That’s a lie, the most I’ve probably spent on a piece of clothing actually is a Jenny Packham dress, you know the designer? My Jenny Packham dress was about £2,000.
Who inspires your image?
What is your signature scent?
Christian Dior, I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s in a little square, light pink bottle. I like a few though. If I’m going to a business meeting to see the heads of labels and stuff, I’ll wear a particular type of perfume. My fearsome, take-no-prisoners perfume is Jean Paul Gaultier.
How do you relax?
Play guitar and ride horses. There’s actually a picture of me inside my album sleeve rearing a big white horse. I was determined to get a picture of me rearing a stallion. I sponsor some horses at Willow Animal Sanctuary (in Aberdeenshire). I’m a big animal lover.
I also live on the coast and you can hang on the beach, drink wine or go for a drive to really famous canyons where people shoot movies. There’s lots of cool stuff to do around California, it’s beautiful.
What are you reading?
A book called The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It’s written from the perspective of a dog.
How do you keep in shape?
I do Barry’s Bootcamp or Power Pilates.
What couldn’t you leave home without?
I guess my phone and I need a lip balm all the time.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you like to have with you?
Definitely the phone, chapstick and a book on how to build a boat.
Sandi Thom will play The Sage on Tuesday, November 6 at 8pm. For tickets call 0191 443 4661, or visit www.sandithom.com