How do you follow up a nomination for a Prog Award? Writing an album of 4 minute rock songs might not be exactly what Tom Slatter’s record label had in mind, but’s what’s what he did anyway.
Happy People, Tom’s fifth studio album and second for Bad Elephant Music is a collection of rock songs about a near future, totalitarian dystopia in which individuality, freedom and even love are impossible. That seems to be where the real world is heading, and Tom thought we could use a soundtrack. The album was very positively reviewed. Prog archives said Happy People is a “special album”, Prog mind and Progressive Rock Planet both gave it 8/10.
Prog Magazine says he’s ‘a quintessentially British eccentric with a quirky imagination who has produced some of the most innovative progressive music in recent years,’ whereas the Steampunk Tribune thinks he’s, ‘an experiment too far’. Tom’s music sits somewhere between folk singer-songwriter, prog rock and indie rock. Having released four albums telling steampunk stories, Happy People tells a scifi story and like all his music owes as much to his literary influences as musical ones. Philip K Dick is as important to the new album as Radiohead or Mansun.
As a live, acoustic act, he has been described as ‘a latter-day Victorian street-theatre barker with a guitar promising tales of mystery, imagination, ‘orrible murders and bloody great waving tentacles’ and ‘an unorthodox songwriter whose songs push the boundaries of what can be expected from the solo acoustic guitar troubadour, straying into the darkest of corners. There is a strange mind at work here but one that makes for a compelling and fascinating listen’. He has performed at numerous prog and steampunk events (Summers End Festival, The Lincoln Asylum) and supported various acts (Simon Godfrey, Lifesigns, Alan Reed).
In 2014 he began a two ep, one album steampunk-prog concept project, that included two eps, Through These Veins and Blackwater and the album Fit the Fourth. This was his first album on a record label (Bad Elephant Music) which was reviewed like this:
“It’s a bit like Oliver Twist re-imagined by a batty steampunk wizard” Prog Magazine
“There be a-stirring and a a-grunting, and afore ye know it, there stands before his creator a swivel-eyed loon babbling in a semi-coherent fashion about creatures escaping from laboratories, and men growing fins…”Where’s me supper, master?”” Roger Trenwith at Astounded by Sound
“A record of her noises as she wraps her tentacles around spare vagrants and sewer rats and drags them, screaming, back to her lair.” Phil Lively at The Progressive Aspect
“complicated with strange time changes and perhaps an instrument made from the shell of an Armadillo.” Martin ‘The Hammer’ Hutchinson at Prog Radar
“It feels a bit like I missed the first movie of a trilogy or something” – Rob Pociluk at Power of Metal