Muddy meets: country band Ward Thomas
Muddy caught up with the self-confessed scruffiest girls in convent school to find out about their harmonious life in Hampshire
Fresh from sixth form, singer-songwriting twins Catherine and Lizzy burst wide-eyed onto the US country music scene. Dubbed ‘the UK’s first country music stars’, their hit album Cartwheels reached number one when they were just 22 years old. Since then, the Hampshire duo have toured with the likes of James Blunt and David Gray but when they’re on the road, you’re more likely to find them sipping coffee than dancing on the bar Coyote Ugly-style…
We hear you had a bit of a reputation at Alton School (formerly Alton Convent School) for being messy – who was the worst?
We were totally as bad as each other! We grew up on a farm so we were always running in late to class and looking a bit unkempt. The school wasn’t strict but it was quite hot on uniform and neatness, which is why we ended up with the nicknames ‘Scruff 1’ and ‘Scruff 2.’
Breaking into the US country scene is notoriously hard, especially for a UK act – how did two girls fresh from the farm in Hampshire make it over there?
We had a fantastic teacher at our Sixth Form who loved our singing compositions and sent them over to his contacts in Nashville. It all took off from there. The first time we went, gosh, we were so young and wide-eyed; we’d never been to the US and had no idea what to expect. Now it’s like a second home, we absolutely love it.
What do you get up to when you’re not performing in Nashville?
There are so many great places to go out in Nashville but we mostly hang out in our favourite coffee shops when we’re over there – we’re such old grannies! The Bluebird Café [above, made famous in the TV series Nashville] is a real experience. It’s really unlike anywhere else, on a road in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dry cleaning shops. Inside, it’s so small that you literally put your name in a hat to play and wait out in the street, then you dash back over when you’re called.
OK, so we know what goes on tour stays on tour… but what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
So many stories… We once walked on stage without realising we didn’t have microphones, that was a bit of a nightmare. And we have to be careful not to catch the others’ eye if we forget a lyric because we’ll just crack up. [Lizzy] Probably the most bizarre thing was a guy once called “catch” when I was on stage and then threw his baguette to me! Like, a whole baguette! I managed to catch it though…
Wellies or cowboy boots?
We’re still farm girls at heart, so definitely wellies.
Favourite Hampshire spots?
We live in East Hampshire, close to West Sussex, so we often head over to Chichester to shop. We also love going to Winchester – there’s some fab vintage places – and we like a good old rummage in the charity shops for vintage finds too. Places to eat… there are so many! The Three Horseshoes near Alton is a favourite. We also love The Natural Food Deli [Formerly The Natural Apothecary] in Petersfield.
OK, hardest question last: Taylor Swift or Dolly Parton?
[Squeals] No! That is so hard. We’ll have to say Dolly. Her influence on us and the whole country music scene is just so far-reaching and totally immense.
Invitation, the new album from Ward Thomas, is out now www.wardthomasmusic.co.uk.