Tommy Lorente – French power pop hero on Tom Petty, French psych and more

The first time I heard Tommy Lorente was on the Twelve String High album, volume two. Mirabelle was a stand out track for me. A stunning slice of perky power pop with a jangly guitar solo that explodes out of nowhere.

It turns out Mirabelle was no fluke and that the songwriter, who hails from Biarritz on the Atlantic coast of south west France, has got plenty of other great tunes too.

The quickest way in is via Tommy’s Un Cruel Manque de Tendresse album – which he put out a couple of years back. It is wonderful rollercoaster ride of Beatley tunes and 70s style power pop with nods to his contemporaries, Paul Collins, and his idols, Tom Petty and Elvis Costello, along the way.

Mirabelle is the standout, but the angry new wave of Katrine and Mad Dose de Toi (imagine a gallic La’s) run it close. There’s a great anthemic finale too in the guise of Bien Étrange, which might just be my favourite moment. The CD also comes with some fun bonus tracks including a stunning raga rock take on the theme tune from the cult TV series The Prisoner.

Here Tommy talks about how he has developed as a songwriter, his new album, his plans for the future and what he thinks about the new French psych scene.

Check out Tommy’s Un Cruel Manque de Tendresse here and look out for Stupefaction coming shortly.

What first inspired you to play guitar/write songs?

I come from a background full of musicians. My father was a talented songwriter and made me listen to all kind of music, from classical to heavy rock. When I was 16, I told him to put strings on that Rickenbacker copy he bought me years before, and everything began.

How many albums have you made so far?

“Un Cruel Manque de Tendresse” was my first album, the second called “Stupefaction” is about to be released. In between, I made few singles on CDs and digital releases, even a funny “Live” album came out years ago! Many of my songs were featured on compilations, fanzines etc. It makes a lot finally!

Which do you rate as you best?

As any artist would say : The upcoming one! But to be fair, I had a great time writing the single ‘B.B Tu me Plais Tant / Un Certain Savoir Faire”. It was really 60’s pop oriented, in a kind of Ray Davies way. Furthermore, it’s funnier and faster to just release 2 songs at a time. But no, the new one, the new one is the best!

How did Mirabelle end up on Twelve String High?

Pedro from the label “You are the Cosmos” loved “Mirabelle” and I was so happy to be part of the story. That’s a wonderful project, and look at that artwork! Fun fact : In the songwriting of that track, I was wondering about what kind of solo to play on. I was travelling by train when I thought a Byrd oriented solo could fit not badly – haha.

You obviously love The Beatles, but I also detect a lot of love for power pop and especially Tom Petty in your music. Are you a fan? Who else do you love?

Being honest, “Full Moon Fever” by Tom Petty is probably the record I played the most in my entire life. I pretty like his whole career, at a point I think “Wildflowers” became my favourite. I pay my tribute to Tom Petty in the inner artwork of my new album. We’ll miss him… I do love the Beatles for sure. Who doesn’t!? I grew up listening to a lot of power pop bands I had a chance to meet later, Paul Collins, Dom Mariani, Nick Lowe…

Is there much of a music scene in Biarritz and the very south west of France?

I think the best way to find Power Pop music scene around here is crossing the Spanish border hahaha! There are wonderful bands coming from northern spain and they do love Rock’n’Roll!

Proof : my upcoming album is about to be released on two legendary spanish labels “Rock Indiana” and “Kotj Records”!

There seems to be a lot of great French bands at the moment who mine 60s pop like Odessey and Oracle, Gloria and The Liminanas. Do you think there is a distinctive French take on the music of that era?

For many people, 60’s period means happy times, colorful places and smart dressing style. I mean, Jacques Dutronc was the perfect example of classy look and great pop songs in the mid sixties! That being said, sadly, France is more internationally associated with Electro pop music today…

You mostly sing in French. Ever been tempted to sing In English?

I began writing music in English then I realised I was basically wrong. I’m French, I’m living in France, and I’m “thinking” in French so I can’t pretend coming from the Bronx or Brixton! Maybe I’ll give it a try! But I do love hearing foreign music as well! some Spanish, German, even Russian singing bands sound fantastic!

I heard you played IPO in Liverpool. Have you ever played the Cavern before? How did you feel about following in the footsteps of The Beatles?

My new album “Stupefaction” is out in a few days, and I’m happy to have been invited to play IPO Fest at The Cavern this year with my trio “La Cavalerie” (Sebastien Cazenave on drums, Nicola Amici on bass). I played there few years back but solo with my acoustic guitar, it was…unbelievable.

Lastly share a link of a great French song that us ignorant Anglos will not have heard

For a few years back I’ve literally been blown away by a band singing in French called “Les Trois Accords” from…Quebec (Canada). A friend of mine made me listen to that track, and I came back home to play it all night long telling myself “that’s exactly what I expect from French Rock’n’Roll” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXXvb2VNAuU

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