Billy Lockett discusses debut album plans and last year's 'life-changing' tour with Lucy Spraggan
Lockett: “I've toured the UK for about 10 years now I love doing it, but I feel I'm going to need to start somewhere new and America seems like it's there with its arms open.”
After spending recent years releasing acclaimed singles and EPs, playing headline tours and arena support shows, Billy Lockett will release his debut album this year.
The singer songwriter has recently completed 13 tracks for the record which was mostly written and recorded in his Northampton basement studio.
Now, after a challenging end to 2021, Lockett is heading into 2022 with new songs and his sights set on America.
Lockett ended 2021 with a triumphant headline gig at St Matthew’s Church in Northampton. However, this followed a gruelling trek around the country opening for Lucy Spraggan.
Looking back on his latest run of shows, Lockett said: “It was difficult for a number of reasons, it was mainly because I was doing it totally on my own.
“I remember talking to my manager, we were working out the finances and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to do the tour unless I just did it in my car and did everything.
“It was intense, getting in the car every day, typing in a postcode and having a five-hour drive somewhere, setting up, performing, running over to the merch area, selling merch, packing up, finding the hotel, finding somewhere safe to park and then doing it all over again for about 40 shows.”
Lockett explains the anxiety ‘almost killed’ him, admitting, his career has almost happened the opposite way around.
After signing with Warner and embarking on a series of high-profile support slots with the likes of ELO, Lockett admits he often found himself in a scenario where most things were done for him.
“This tour definitely felt I was going back to my roots and I kind of loved that because I felt I was working for it properly,” he explains.
“I’m still not where I want to be, but when I do get there, I know I won't have imposter syndrome because that tour was insanely hard. I earned my stripes there.”
Despite picking up a legion of new fans, unfortunately some shows were marred with disruptive audience members.
“I can deal with hecklers, I almost enjoy it,” Lockett admits.
“But, the problem we had was the crowd didn’t like the hecklers. The people who did want to listen would shout at those who didn't - with good reason. All of a sudden you've a massively hostile environment.
“I think at six or seven of the shows there were fights and Dover was the last straw.
“Personally, I had an alright gig, it was a small group of people who caused a problem, but because they were out of my line of sight, I didn't really notice them that much.
“I went backstage and then all of a sudden the security guards ran in and locked my backstage door and it turned out there was a big fight.
“I ended up going out into the venue eventually to see what was going on and it was crazy, people screaming and crying, six people were arrested, there were ambulances, there was police everywhere.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, especially at a Billy and Lucy gig.”
Despite this, Lockett said he made and was able to meet hundreds of new fans while on tour with Spraggan and has “absolutely no regrets”.
He adds: “It was genuinely one of the most life-changing tours I have ever done, just psychologically challenging doing it on my own.
“Lucy's fans are such nice people, some of the most supportive music lovers you’ll ever meet.”
Lockett’s forthcoming album will follow last year’s EP Reflections and 2019’s EP Reset.
In 2020 he released the instrumental compilation album Together At Home, but his forthcoming record will be viewed as his proper debut album.
Now back in Northampton and working on the final parts of the record, Lockett has his sights set on its release, which he hopes will be the first half of this year.
“It’s being mixed, mastered and we're currently working out who we're going to release it through but everything looks really positive and promising,” he explains.
“There's some offers on the table and I'm trying to work out which one to go with.
“I’ve made this album completely blind, no one (in the industry) really wanted it – besides my fans.
“I just thought I'm going to make the album and I’ll see what interest there is and the reaction has been great.
“With (former label) Warner, I needed a label to help me work out what I was. By us trying to do that together, it fell apart.
“In the last couple of years, I've worked out who I am myself.
“It makes it a hell of a lot easier because it means I've got creative control and I'm doing what I want.”
Last year, Lockett turned to Patreon to directly keep in touch with fans and help fund the album.
Patreon is a membership platform that allows artists and creators to work directly with followers.
Depending on the level of monthly subscription, Lockett’s Patreon fans will be the first to hear new music, receive merchandise discounts, early access to gig tickets, attend launch parties and have access to other exclusive items.
Lockett is currently discussing with supporters what the name of his album will be.
“I want it to be something symbolising this house because I made the whole album in the cellar,” he explains.
“We shot the cover in here, I wrote almost all the songs down here, it's got to be called something which links to this house.”
The album will comprise of new material, besides his past single Hard Act To Follow, which has been re-recorded.
“The original I recorded in a shed with one of my mates and it took us about two hours,” he jokes.
“It went onto do about 20 million streams which was completely unpredicted.”
Turning to the sound of the record, Lockett explains he wanted to break free from solely piano ballads, admitting “I want to have more hopeful songs”.
“Don't get me wrong, ballads have done me really well, I like ballads, but I want to have more hopeful songs, it’s hard to write a happy song when it's just piano and vocals.
“The album is pop. I think a lot of people are scared by the word pop because it's not cool. I totally disagree.
“I think this is really cool pop. It's got a little bit of The Weeknd and a bit of Years & Years, a little bit of Glass Animals.
“I think the sound I'm making now works in America, I've accidently been making an American sounding record.”
“My producer Barney Cox has been the missing link to everything and it’s probably why I've never done an album before because I couldn't get the right producer.
“I don't think I've ever found anyone I work with as well as him and he’s helped transform my sound.
“I've toured the UK for about 10 years now I love doing it, but I feel I'm going to need to start somewhere new and America seems like it's there with its arms open.”