Music is catharsis. If I didn't write songs, to offload everything in my head I think I'd either explode or kill someone. I've been writing since I was fourteen, spending my lunch breaks in the music department of my school with a guitar with usually less than six nylon strings. I started learning the guitar at eleven, but always seemed to have something better to do than practice, and it was only after I stopped having lessons at sixteen that I actually started really playing and experimenting with what I had learned. About that time I pretty much hated everything and my songs tended to reflect that. But at college I met the love of my life and I began writing love songs. When you hate something or love someone so much you can't express it, somehow, sometimes, it's easier to put it in a song. I don't consciously try to write about anything in particular, I just seem to empty my head and that way it saves me hundreds of pounds on therapy. I have no idea who my influences are. If I wanted to be pretentious I would say that if you're really that influenced by someone, you just might be plagiarising. There is so much music that I love, but what's the point in replicating it? I grew up listening to a huge variety of stuff, mostly handed down from my three siblings: Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, REM and The Beautiful South for example. I went through a 50s and 60s stage when I was about fifteen, and still have a special place in my heart for Neil Sedaka, Dion and Del Shannon, and I will never hear a bad word said against Frank Sinatra. My tastes are still fairly old-school, eclectic and a bit random: Jimi Hendrix, JJ Cale, Johnny Cash, John Martyn, Kathryn Williams, Tom Waites, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Beck, Manu Chao, Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D, Bob Marley, Royksopp, The Shins, The Cure, The Smiths, Neil Young, ESG, Radiohead. But top of my list is the genius that is Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy. Which, of all of those, has influenced me I just don't know, even though I'm sure many of them subliminally have. You'll have to tell me.