Tom Hadley is a busy man. Playing bass in Coventry punk rock stalwarts dragSTER as well as guitar in one of the UK’s most fast-rising hardcore bands Face Up!, is no mean feat. Releasing albums for both bands this year as well as extensively touring is also extremely impressive, and the quality of both shows Tom has nothing but pure passion, relentless dedication and undeniable talent. The Punk Lounge went back to basics with him to find out how all of this began.
1. When, where and why did your dream as a musician start?
I’m not a musician, I play punk! Haha! I suppose I’ve always been musical, I was in the school orchestras either on the trumpet or saxophone and then eventually owned my first guitar which was a Vintage SG and non-stop I would be learning tabs off the internet for everything from Papa Roach to Pennywise.
2. When and why did you choose the instrument you did? Did this ever change, if so why? Also, do you play multiple instruments, if so which is your favourite to play and why?
In dragSTER, I use a Tokai Thunderbird. I’m a lefty so it’s almost impossible to find a left-handed Thunderbird made by either Gibson or Epiphone. I love the shape. I remember watching Pete from The Vibrators use one and thought the guitar just looks good to rock with.
In Face Up! I use a Jackson Dinky with some EMG’s. It’s all you need, pretty simple with a sound that sounds expensive. Definitely, prefer playing rhythm guitar but I think I can be of more use on the bass.
3. Major influences? A specific song, band, scene, etc.…
Rancid, I have everything they had ever produced. Definite fanboy. Especially Rancid 2000, that album has a definite inspiration to my songwriting. Fast and Raw.
4. Successes and failures along the way?
I don’t really look at my time in bands as successes or failures but I have had some good and bad times. I get to travel the country and the rest of Europe with my family of friends, who I know better than my actual family. If you spend weeks in a transit van with the same four other people you get to unconditionally love them, but also slowly murder them in your head at the same time (shout out to Ryan!). I’ve played for the UK SUBS and I’ve supported bands I thought I would never get close to such as Agnostic Front, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and The Exploited. I’ve played from Portugal to the Czech Republic with people I consider family which is payment enough.
5. Any funny stories – lessons learned?
Funny stories? There are just too many. From Diesel (the boss) deciding to not pay for his kebab in Cologne and outrunning police, to the time when Face up! played a show and I got the whole pub to sing Erasure. Basically other than that they all involve Diesel either pronouncing words wrong or making a tit of himself. If it weren’t for that man I’d probably not be what I am today………. Probably a success. Hahaha Nah, in all honestly I owe him everything. YUK.
6. Recommendations for those wanting to play your instrument or get into the business?
There is no business. That is a whole different side to music that I am not familiar with. Get together with your friends and just have fun and see new places.
7. Your future plans-upcoming tours, new albums, new videos, websites, etc.
Face up! and dragSTER has both released new albums this year, you can catch dragSTER’s latest video on youtube it’s called ‘The Damned’.
Both bands are being very noisy at the moment. I’m very busy, with even holding down a full-time job too! It’s all non-stop at the moment and it doesn’t look like its calming down anytime soon. www.dragsteronline.com and you can find Face up! on Facebook.
The final part is about your instrument specifically;
1. Which specific instrument you started with and what is a good starter instrument (i.e., if you play bass, which is a good starter bass?) How much should you be willing to spend on this start up an instrument?
Started with the Gibson SG copy by Vintage. Awesome sound for a 100 quid guitar (well it was back in 2003). Actually preferred it to the Epiphone.
2. What you play now? Budget range?
I play a Tokai Thunderbird and a Tokai Firebird. love these guitars and I’ve modded the pickups in the Firebird to Duncans. I just genuinely love the shape of these guitars. I also play the Jackson Dinky I mentioned before. All under 300 quid each! I also use Boss bass overdrive with the Thunderbird.
3. What is your dream instrument/setup and how much?
Dream setup would probably be decent cables, I’m pretty much happy with what I have. Just the little things that piss me off like jacks failing and batteries running out. Just plug in and play. There you go, a nuclear-powered tuner and indestructible jack leads.