Releasing his debut four track EP 'Half Way Up' this coming November, Rob Richings is a simplistic and authentic artist as well as real-life survivor, with an inspirational story.
We got the chance to put some questions to Rob about his tough few years suffering from a rare form of Colitis, as well as his music, ambitions and much more.
For those who may not yet have heard your sound, how best would you describe yourself as an artist?
I like to think of myself as a storyteller, singer/songwriter. My set up is very simplistic and I let the lyrics and vocals do the work.
Your debut EP is out this November, what can you tell us about the creative process behind that record?
It was very tough to pick the four tracks to put on this EP as I had so many I wanted to record. Lucky for me, I had a great guy involved in the recording process who added a lot. We played through the tracks and guitar parts seem to come naturally for these songs. Really excited to put this EP out and see what the reaction is.
How important is it for you to maintain that creative control over the work you put out?
This is very important. If this is taken away from me I really do believe my songwriting will come to a halt!
What was it like working with producer Simon Johnson on this EP?
Fantastic. Simon is a great guy to work with. You feel very comfortable around him as he is a relaxed guy. He is also a fantastic musician who brings so much to the table when writing parts for the songs. He took these songs to another level for sure.
Where do you draw influence or inspiration from for your material?
I like writing about people I have met, things that I see... I am rubbish if put on the spot when trying to get my point across so I take great pride in my songwriting and really think about the lyrics. If I have something to say in a song I find the best possible words to describe it.
Who would you love to work with on a collaboration going forward?
Damon Albarn. I would love to write a few songs with this guy. I think he is one of the best songwriters around. He is so diverse.
2009 saw you diagnosed with a rare and severe form of Colitis, can you tell us a little bit about that time and the five year battle which followed?
It was a tough few years. I had three major operations, life-saving at that, cancerous tumors, so very serious. If I was to take the positives from it, my songwriting changed over these years and became more natural to me. Music and songwriting played a massive part in my recovery.
What do people need to know about Colitis?
It's a very serious disease that a lot of people will not have heard of including myself before I was diagnosed. More people suffer from this than you realise. Maybe not to the extent I had it but there are lots of support groups around if anyone needs help.
Do you have any advice for those who could be suffering?
Do not suffer in silence. By talking to people, groups etc., you will learn a lot more about the illness you have and things you can do to improve your health.
Tell us more about how the illness affected you and your songwriting.
It totally changed my writing. I was in a heavier lead guitar led band before I fell ill. During the time I spent recovering I somehow looked at the world slightly differently than before and felt extremely lucky to be alive. This played a massive part in shaping my storytelling style of songwriting which I now finds come naturally to me.
You'll be touring this November with Tom Baxter and Fisherman's Friends - what should people coming to those shows expect?
A very simple set up - one man and a guitar who likes to talk about his songs and set the scene before playing them.
Do you enjoy the touring lifestyle?
This is a tough one as I love playing gigs but spending time away from the family is tough so to answer this - yes I love touring but I couldn't do it non-stop. A few days away from home at a time is enough for me.
Do you have any definitive aims or goals for your career going forward?
Like any working musician I would just love to get to the stage where you can earn a good living to keep doing what we love to do. The music industry has changed over the years as we all know so it can be a very tough place to be. Hopefully I can get that collaboration with Damon Albarn!
Finally, what's next for you aside from the EP release and UK tour dates?
I am off to Australia in late November to start recording an album that will be due out March/April 2016. I am lucky enough to have some fantastic musicians and Passenger's producer on-board for this, so very excited to get this underway!
Rob Richings' forthcoming tour dates are as follows:
- October 9 - Durham Gala
- November 4 - Glad Cafe, Glasgow
- November 5 - The Caves, Edinburgh
- November 6 - South Beach Sessions, Troon
- November 13 - St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings
- November 19 - Phoenix, Exeter
- November 20 - Railway (Attic), Winchester
- November 21 - Convent Club, Stroud