ED2022 Comedy ED2022 Interviews ED2022 Preview Edition

Tom GK: How To Record The Greatest Album Of All Time

By | Published on Friday 1 July 2022

As you’ll all surely know, there are so many comedy shows at the average edfringe that it would be impossible to see and appreciate all of them. So when it comes to coverage, we are always looking out for stuff that piques our interest with intriguing themes. 

One that jumped out at us this year is ‘How To Record The Greatest Album Of All Time’, by Tom GK, whose Edinburgh Festival work you may have already come across in recent years, in particular ‘Hearing Loss: The Musical’ at the 2018 fringe. A former music critic who changed course as a result of hearing loss, he’s back this year with another show with a musical theme. 

I arranged a chat with Tom, to find out more about the show and the man himself. 

CM: So, tell us a bit about the content of ‘How To Record The Greatest Album of All Time’? I mean, presumably it’s about how to record the greatest album of all time, but can you tell us a bit more than that? 
TGK: So, the headline would probably be: “Former Telegraph music critic goes deaf, says ‘screw that’ and decides to make one of the greatest albums ever”. The show really is an audition tape where I have 50 minutes to prove myself worthy of outdoing ‘Abbey Road’, ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ and all the other amazing albums out there. It isn’t really musical comedy at all, it’s just taking this rich pool of love and positivity that is music and using it to build a comedy show. While having hearing loss.

CM:  What made you decide to do a show about this subject? 
TGK: Comedy seemed like a distant memory for the two years of lockdown, particularly as I was shielding for much of it. So, instead I decided to pick up my guitar and put that energy into writing music. What came out of that are all the ingredients for one of the greatest albums of all time… and, thankfully, a comedy show too.   

CM:  How did you go about creating the show? Can you tell us a bit about the process of putting it together? 
TGK: It’s a two-step process. Have you ever been hanging out with someone playing a guitar or a piano when they suddenly play something you recognise? It’s delightful, you giggle – and that’s step one. My job, in step two, is to put rocket boosters under that ‘giggle’ and turn it into a full-blown ‘laugh’.

CM: You’ve always loved music presumably? Has it always been a part of your life?
TGK: Definitely. I remember as a kid when I got into trouble, didn’t do my homework or whenever anything bad happened, I had a mantra: “Tom, there’ll always be the ‘White Album’”. Your heart might ache, your leg might break, but no one will ever take ‘Rocky Raccoon’ away.

CM: Losing your hearing must have had an obvious impact on your relationship with music. Can you explain how it continues despite that? 
TGK: Yes, losing my hearing was a bit of a bummer – maybe ‘Rocky Racoon’ isn’t forever, after all. Thanks to a genetic condition I now have no hearing on my left side and it’s also quite reduced on my right side too -take that hecklers! Medicine is doing a great job of protecting the rest of my hearing… for now, at least. Yet, it has made me value music like never before… every bass-line, solo, harmony and genre. If anything, I’m more addicted to this weird cosmic realm we call ‘music’ than ever.   

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your past, now? Did you see yourself ending up as a performer like this? Back then, what did you want to do when you grew up?
TGK: Haha, “how did you end up like this“ is a question most comedians get asked pretty often… especially at family get-togethers. Performing was always something bubbling under in my life but comedy really took over after I lost my hearing. That’s a pretty isolating, tough thing to happen – especially for a jobbing music writer – but comedy allowed me to get up on stage, have a voice and build back that self esteem I’d lost. Being funny is a pretty great superpower.

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
TGK: A support slot for Stewart Lee at an Action On Hearing Loss fund-raiser stands out, as does performing with an impromptu BSL interpreter which turned into the most chaotic but joyful show ever. As for my life as a music critic, my main lasting legacy is being quoted on the Wikipedia pages of Britney Spears and Bruno Mars… that’s the benefit of giving people nice reviews.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
TGK: Keep hearing, keep making people laugh and – yes – record the greatest album of all time. At one time I would have given you a long list – write an era-defining sketch show, become a ‘Just A Minute’ panellist, be elected MP for Milton Keynes North – but age and wisdom – perhaps? – means I’m actually just in love with the process of evolving and perfecting my comedy. Do that and all the cool stuff follows.  

CM: You’ve been to the Fringe before, of course. What makes you want to go back to it?
TGK: Oh, it’s going to be so good to be back and I just can’t wait to get in front of some of the best audiences in the world. These crowds are comedy literate but on-the-look-out for something a bit different and the next big thing. You don’t really get that anywhere else

CM: What are your most favourite things about the Fringe and your least favourite things? 
TGK: The best thing about the Fringe is what it represents. Edinburgh is one of the world’s best capital cities but for August it gets this amazing village feel where performers and audiences come together to do and see crazy, brilliant, hilarious things in an atmosphere where we all have each other’s back. It’s like Davos but for likeable people.

The worst thing is probably the silent disco, to be honest. There’s 50 people dancing around the street, admittedly having a lot of fun, when what they should be doing is going to all the amazing comedy, theatre and music shows put on by some of the most creative and dedicated people in the world. And me.  

CM: Other than performing, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
TGK: The silent disco, of course. Nothing brings us performers together more than our mutual hatred of it!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? 
TGK: I’m hoping to take this show around the UK toward the end of the year – check all the social media spots for details – as well as a bit of potential international touring which I’m working out for early 2023. Of course, you could just wait for The Greatest Album Of All Time to be released and the inevitable Glastonbury headline slot to follow. 

Tom GK performed ‘How To Record The Greatest Album In The World’ at Just The Tonic at The Mash House at Edinburgh Festival 2022.

LINKS: twitter.com/tomgk_writer | twitter.com/Justthetonic 

Photo: John Cairns