It is six o’clock on an extremely wet Saturday evening, and we are stood outside the Boileroom in Guildford. The venue with its’ blacked out windows seemingly an unlikely venue in what otherwise, are seemingly quiet suburban streets.
The sound of Cartwheels is gently escaping through the windows, as Ward Thomas near the end of their sound check. As we amble around to the entrance, we find the first few eager fans queuing, a full 90 minutes before doors open eager to gain a prime spot in what is one of the smallest venues of the current tour!
After a short wait, we are invited in by Lizzy and Catherine, they survey the somewhat inclement weather, apologize to the waiting fans and usher us in. A quick request for an autograph comes and a rather wonderful artefact is produced, the requestor has taken a photo from an earlier encounter and had it blown up on to a canvas ready to hang on a wall. It is a beautiful picture and is a sign of how they are well regarded by many of their fans.
The venue is still in a state of disarray, Una Healy (the ex-Saturday) has yet to complete her sound check and the barriers have yet to be put in place. It is a tiny venue, short on chairs so in a W21Music first we conduct the interview, standing at the far end of the building, next to the bar. Catherine and Lizzy, slightly smaller than you might think off stage, are ready for another grilling. There is only one place that the interview can begin….
#TEAMw21: We were chatting with Shelley (Poole, Red Sky July singer and WT Co-Writer) who said that you were genuinely surprised when you hit number one?
Catherine: We had no idea!
Lizzy: We were hoping for Top 40, then the Management were saying we could get Top 10 and then… Number one!!
Catherine: In the midweeks we had been number one Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then on Thursday which is the best indication there was a delay in the midweeks coming out, they were 2 hours later than normal!
Lizzy: It was so tense!
#TEAMw21: That was an intense publicity campaign with you appearing just about everywhere.
If you were anywhere near a radio or television you’d have seen Ward Thomas pop up on The One Show, Lorraine, Woman’s Hour, Michael Ball’s Sunday Show among others as well as in store signings at HMV Guildford and Oxford Circus.
Lizzy: It was a very very crazy promo tour, right up to this tour – it’s all been go go go!
#TEAMw21: Were you taken aback by the surprise everyone had to you being number one? Sky News had it on the rolling news ticker, the Daily Telegraph made a feature of it?
Catherine: I know (sounding truly amazed) It was on BBC Radio 2 and they said “The news at 8 o’clock Ward Thomas have made chart history”!
Lizzy: What was funny about that though, was that we were in London and they went to find a farm in Vauxhall, to shoot an interview and a song whereas normally we are in Hampshire by a farm!
#TEAMw21: What surprised us was that everyone was surprised – it was the culmination of two years hard efforts gathering fans willing to go out and by the record on its day of release.
Catherine: Yes (nodding in agreement) We never like to set our expectations too high. It has been a lot of work and we are very proud of the album, and fingers crossed it has all paid off!
#TEAMw21: Martin Terefe is on production duties this time round, was he an obvious choice?
Lizzy: Yes we liked his work with KT Tunstall, and this is very much the second kind of sound that we were wanting to go for!
Catherine: He was very good at recording live instruments in a very organic way and we wanted to record in London rather than Nashville for this record.
Lizzy: Making the songs sound real - letting them speak for themselves
#TEAMw21: Some of the other work on his CV, A-Ha, Englebert Humperdinck?
Catherine: He has worked with a variety of people including Shawn Mendes, so he has the cool and the Englebert!
Lizzy: Willie Nelson as well – he had lots of funny stories – and Englebert is cool!!!
#TEAMw21: Last time we spoke we did mention about the possibility of a vinyl release and with “Cartwheels” it comes as a lovely double disk package
Catherine: We love the vinyl, the artwork and the two disks as it was so long. We actually went and bought a record player so that we could play it!
#TEAMw21: You went with the title “Cartwheels” – were there any other titles in the running?