Since Liam Cromby shared the first taste of new solo music in March 2023, this new phase of his career is already off to an impressive start. With early airplay from BBC Introducing and Absolute Radio Country among others, an appearance at The Great Escape festival and sold-out headline shows across the country, Cromby was invited to play at the prestigious Black Deer Festival of Americana, and along with a full-band set, joined Brandy Clark, Drake White, Elles BaileyandBella Whitefor a Songwriter Session. Known for his work as the lead singer and songwriter of We Are The Ocean until 2017, he’s already spent years on the road as a touring artist, with the band playing headline shows and festival appearances in the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA. Following his time in the band, Cromby found his way to Nashville in 2019 which after looking for stability outside of the music industry gave him the opportunity to start connecting with like-minded musicians and songwriters. More importantly, though, the trip had the side effect of reigniting his love for authentic, honest songwriting which has shaped his debut solo release ‘What Can I Trust, If I Can’t Trust Love’ (available to pre-save/pre-add HERE) that is due on December 1st.
Ahead of the album release and his upcoming tour dates to support it, Liam appeared at The Half Moon in Putney as part of Country In The Afternoon, where we spent some time chatting to him to hear about the forthcoming new project.
It’s good to have you here today and thanks for taking the time to chat before your set. This will be the second time that I’ll get to see you play, the first time was back at Black Deer earlier this year where I caught the round that you played in. That was one of the coolest rounds I think I have ever seen actually where you were up there with Elles (Bailey) who has won pretty much ever award going over here, Bella White who is a Canadian girl that I discovered and had been listening to a lot in the run-up to the festival, Brandy Clark is obviously one of the most incredible songwriters in any genre and Drake White who has such an incredible story and is possibly the nicest man in the world. I know you also played your own set there with a band so, how was Black Deer overall as a festival for you? “It was amazing. It was everything that I thought it would be and more. That songwriter round felt wild, I don’t know if you noticed but I couldn’t stop smiling, I couldn’t quite believe I was where I was and with the people that I was with as my first introduction to the UK country and Americana scene. I was feeling really blessed and grateful to be there but it was an amazing experience, as was playing with the band, The Morning Star as well, where we had a really fun set where I just felt so accepted even in these such early days of this music.”
The whole round thing at a festival is so alien as an idea to most people because the whole festival perspective when you’re with a band is just that you are there to rock out but you have all these people that attentively want to hear the background of the songs. “There is a real appreciation though, you can go to a festival where people enjoy the music, enjoy being at a festival and enjoy the company but at Black Deer, there was a real appreciation for the songs, the lyrics, the guitar and music in totality, which I really felt.”
How did you find your way into this country and Americana world? What were your sort introductions to the genres? “My dad played in bands up in Liverpool throughout the seventies and eighties. He had a country band called Richmond Country where he had the full handlebar moustache and everything, the pictures are fantastic. Then my mum is a fantastic singer who would sing Patsy Cline and Dolly so, from a very early age when we were driving up and down from Liverpool, the soundtrack in the car was country.”
Then, I take it that at some point since then, you found your way to Nashville and decided that this is where you are now heading musically? “Even in my past with my rock band; We Are The Ocean, many of the songs kind of began as country songs. I find there is actually a close connection between what you might call emo or hardcore and country music with how they are real heart on your sleeve songs. There is someone there that is really expressing themselves about a story that someone has told them or their own experiences so there was always a close connection there, but for sure, going to Nashville was just Wow!” Moving on to the album that we have on the way in a couple of weeks, you’ve started sharing the first few tracks already and ‘Feel The Same’ was the most recent one last month. I saw that this was a song that had written two guys from Southend that have been a big part of country music over here for quite some time, Essex is your neck of the woods too but how did you first start working with those Holloway Road boys? “When I first decided that I wanted to write country music, I just went online and started searching for UK country bands and I found Holloway Road then I went to a gig and just introduced myself. From there I met Sue McMillan who is another songwriter based over here and I found my PR company so a lot of how I started with it was just going to these places and introducing myself. The boys were just down the road when I did live in Essex and I’ve known them since 2017 or 2018 where we have a lot more songs that a really good. There’s an absolute cracker that we have written together which might come for my second album or might go towards their new stuff. I wish people could be there when we are writing together and I’m happy to say this but the connection and chemistry in that room when we are writing together is few and far between where it is such a good vibe working with those guys.”
The other thing with working with people like Rob and Jack and have the writer/producer viewpoint with creating songs, it must help to be able to be able get more output from a session a lot quicker. “Absolutely and it just helps that we are from the same part of the country, have a similar sense of humour and have other connections in common other than country music so we can put all of this fun stuff in one.”
This is your “debut” record as it’s billed from you as a solo artist which is probably weird to hear considering you have released so much other stuff but how long have you been working towards the album? “I would say five years in total. I recorded the album in 2021 so it has been around for nearly two years for me. It was from the end of We Are The Ocean, when I took a big break out of music but I was still writing and staying active in that way so it is that five year pocket from the end of my old band that this album is about.”
From what I understand, after the band ended, you did a lot of different things where you were looking outside of music and worked some quite varied jobs where this is obviously the life perspective of this but also the reflection that after doing music for so long you may need to think away from it in the future. “I think that was what I needed at the time for myself. I was still a young man and all I had known was life on the road so I just wanted to experience something else and at the same time, I needed a break from music to grow and learn more experiences, which always helps towards writing when you can experience something that you haven’t experienced before.”
There’s so dates over here in early December, just after the record drops and these experiences are taking you to Germany in the new year. How did those dates playing over there come about? “Well, I played at The Great Escape down in Brighton earlier in the year and there was a promoter from Germany there who was aware of We Are The Ocean and came along to listen to my set. He spoke to me and said I would like to put you on over in Germany, there is a fanbase there for you still and thought it would be great. Obviously, I’m over the moon because I love Germany, love playing there and made a lot of friends there so, it will be nice to go back and share what I’m up to.”
Like I said earlier, I think the timing of the record is really great because it is a time of the year where people don’t release new stuff so, hopefully it pays off and people really love it. “Yeah, hopefully it can stand out because of that and gets a bit of a day in the winter sun so to speak where it gets to connect with people but the way I can do that best is playing live. That’s the way I connect with people best where I can tell the stories behind it and just being present with it so fingers crossed with that.” Fri 1 Dec. – Royal British Legion | Loughton Sun 3 Dec. – Banquet Records | Kingston (TIME TBC) Sun 3 Dec. – The Fighting Cocks | Kingston Tues 5 Dec. – Vinyl Whistle | Leeds (TIME TBC) Fri 8 Dec. – Round The Corner | Liverpool Mon 22 Jan. – Barbobu | Berlin Tues 23 Jan. – Freundlich + Kompetent | Hamburg Weds 24 Jan. – Blue Shell | Cologne Thurs 25 Jan. – Glockenbachwerkstatt | Munich The debut album ‘What Can I trust, If I Can’t Trust Love’ from Liam Cromby will be released on December 1st and is available to pre-save/pre-add HERE. Liam’s forthcoming UK and German tour dates are shown above with tickets available HERE whilst you can keep up to date with all that he is up to in the run up to the album release on INSTAGRAMTWITTER & FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks