Living on Borrowed Time

ERB's Lucy Heffer sat down with Tom Killner ahead of his album release to chat about music, meat and memories!

He’s been playing for 18 years and started his band 12 years ago, but 28 year old Tom is acutely aware that time is precious and should not be taken for granted. That said, the songwriting process for his upcoming album was, in his words “dragged out”.

“Obviously, we had a couple of years where everything sort of stood still and in the first weeks of lockdown Cosmic Sounds (the first single from the album) got written in all the silence. It was quite eerie. We were spending time building the little studio at home. Originally, it was going to be an acoustic album, with me playing guitar and singing but then it sort of changed and it turned into what we have now. I just thought let’s add a little bit of percussion, oh okay, we’ve got drums on the album, why not add a little bit of bass, okay, we’ve got keys now.” Tom laughs. “It wasn’t intentional at first and we have actually got different versions of the album and songs that didn’t make it on. After lockdown we were gigging the songs because we needed new music to bring to people and we ended up just changing them a little bit and this is how they’ve ended up.”

The ten track album features Sam Wood (Black Star Riders, Wayward Sons) on lap steel, backing vocals by Kier and Oli Brown, plus Wes Brook on keys and Hammond organ, Callum Houghton on bass, Rich Hunter on drums and Anthony Croft on fiddle. “Wes, Callum and Rich are also part of the solid unit that we tour with.” Confirms Tom. “Kier is an artist I’m working with really who’s a really good singer songwriter you should check her out. She brought an album out last year. Really, really good songwriting talent. I don’t know how she does it. She seems to just sort of pull them out of the bag. Every day there seems to be a new track,” he enthuses.

The personal influences for Borrowed Time include mental headspace, relationships and “outright fantasy storytelling”. Tom explains, “One Day at a Time is a track that is a personal song, it’s my therapy for getting emotions out and dealing with headspace issues. It’s just about taking it like it is in the title, one day at a time. Everybody has a tough time to deal with sometimes and that’s just a song about it really. Songwriting has been my way to vent.” The album title just popped into Tom’s head when the band were jamming and he decided that it should be the title of the record. “Recently I’ve lost a good friend of mine (and my dad’s), Stuart. In fact the album’s dedicated to him, and a guy called Martin Bedford, a massive artist in Sheffield that did a lot of gig posters, album art and things. He was also a good friend and he suddenly passed away a few months ago. So it just felt right that we’re all on borrowed time. You just got to make the best of what you have and just go for it.”

Tom continues, “The musical influences come from years of listening to different music. I wasn’t really aiming for this style, this is just how it’s come out. I suppose that I have been listening to a lot of country and Americana artists like Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and people like that…I absolutely love Waylon Jennings, and of course Willie Nelson. To be fair Willie Nelson is the guy that set me off down the country route. I love the storytelling side of country.”

Tom grew up surrounded by music and his dad played bass for him when he started performing. “My dad’s influence on music definitely started very early and my mum had all the old singles out of the jukebox and we used to go to the charity shops and get old singles and stuff like that. But the earliest memories that I can remember were my mum bathing me when I was really young and having the Beatles No. 1 album on. Yellow Submarine was my earliest memory of music,” Tom chuckles. “Status Quo was another massive influence before I even considered playing guitar or doing this. I used to mime with my dad’s Telecaster to Status Quo records and I think I drove them nuts because they were just constantly on repeat. I think was around seven or eight!

“My friends were into Green Day and Slipknot, the heavier stuff,” he continues. “I did then get into Green Day because originally I wanted to be a punk artist! That soon fizzled out to be fair and then I started listening to my dad’s record collection again, all this sort of classic rock stuff like Deep Purple and Rory Gallagher because that’s basically what I wanted to be as an artist, Rory Gallagher.” So were his parents supportive of his career choice? “It was pretty early on when I decided this is what I want to do. This is all I want to do. I’ve been fortunate as I’ve had parents that’ve really not pushed me, they let me do my own thing. All my dad said was ‘I’ve spent 47 years in a factory don’t end up being a miserable old sod like me, do what you want’.”

Tom’s proudest moments include the opportunity to play with Rory Gallagher’s former band members. He explains, “I played at a festival in Belgium many years ago and they were there. We did a set and they really liked us and invited us to go and play with them on stage which is really cool. That’s gonna stay with me for quite a long time. But more recently, having this record finished and how it’s turned out (has made me proud). I’m just dead chuffed with it.”

Tom is often referred to as a blues artists. “I’ve not done straight out and out blues since I was about 13,” he explains. “To be fair, it’s definitely influenced me because I listened to that when I was growing up, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters but your tastes develop and you move in and out of places.

It seems to be a label that’s stuck but the Americana scene and the country scene at the minute is the biggest growing market.” He trails off and conversation turns to the recent Beyoncé county music release!

Tom Killner has plenty of gigs this year including a mini tour in April and tours with Hush Money and Preacher Stone later in the year. So what’s a Tom Killner show like? “Well I like to think of it as a real fun time. We have a great time on stage and I love audience interaction. We try and make it as entertaining as possible, but still keeping the meanings of the songs and taking people on sort of a dynamic journey of the set. So it’s soft, hard, loud, quiet and anything in between. We’re just there to have a really good time and that’s what we try to do for our audiences.” And shower singing, what would that performance be like? “You know I don’t tend to sing in the shower to be fair. I save that for annoying people.” He laughs. “But I think if it would have to be anything it would probably be something totally ridiculous like Lionel Richie. My girlfriend has a habit of singing random lines of songs and then they sort of get glued into my head and I can’t remove them. Like Dancing on the Ceiling, or whatever it’s called…”

When Tom is not making music or silently showering, he can often be found in the kitchen. “I’m really passionate about cooking I really love cooking. I love smoking barbecues and smoking meats and making bread. I can’t admit to being very good at making bread. But I do enjoy it and cooking in general. I think if I wasn’t in the music industry, I’d probably be cooking.That’s my second passion!”


Head to for upcoming tour dates and to buy a copy of Borrowed Time.



Band Members

Tom Killner – Guitar and Vocals
Wes Brook – Keys / Hammond
Callum Houghton – Bass
Rich Hunter – Drums

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