Written by: Olav Martin Björnsen
A couple of weeks ago Framemusic published the press release for the forthcoming short movie “The Guiding Light”, where details and backgrounds for the project was outlined by it’s core creator Tom Brumpton – see this article HERE. As is often the case with a forthcoming move, at this stage being in the funding phase, Brumpton asked if an interview would be possible to do, to follow up that article. Hence this interview.
– Who is Tom Brumpton?
I’m a director and former frontman for the British metal band Akarusa Yami. I also run and operate a small PR company called Polymath PR.
– When did you first start out as a musician? How old were you, and what lead to you forming your first band?
I formed my first band in a friends living room when I was 17. No idea what we were called or what we played. We gathered around a bunch of instruments, prayed for the best and kept putting off playing actual music together. It was around the same time I had discovered rock music and started playing guitar. I could barely hold three chords together.
– Between your first teenage attempts and forming Akarusa Yami, were there many other band projects you were involved in?
Yeah, there were three. I did a band called DefNation for a few years that went nowhere outside of playing a few local shows and a few demos, but it was pretty fun. We were a six piece with two vocalists. I did a side project called Nefari, a weird goth rock side project for a few years. Finally, I was in a band called Kallous for five years between 2006 and 2011. I basically quit Kallous and went straight into Akarusa Yami. Outside of AY, Kallous probably did the best. We did one or two records and a festival in the Czech Republic which was a complete mess of a show, but is still something I laugh about a lot to this day. The composer on The Guiding Light, Alex Norman, was the guitarist in Kallous for a long time and its how we became good friends.
– And then came Akarusa Yami. You were in that band for 4 years, if I remember correctly?
I was with them for five years, actually *laughs*! I formed the band with Tom Clarke, their guitarist, in 2010. We were both in other bands and dying for a change of pace. Musically Akarusa Yami was more inline with my taste in music. They were very Fear Factory with a hint of Anaal Nathrakh on the first record and I love both bands, so was totally on board.
– You did two EPs and one album with them before leaving. What measure of success would you say the band had while you were a member?
I’m really proud of what we achieved. We didn’t do many shows, but we did get to do other things. We played Bloodstock twice, Trondheim Metal Fest in Norway twice, got invited to do interviews on national radio in Norway and Sweden, got featured in print magazines. It was actually really crazy how much coverage the band got. “Life, The Venomous Way” got played on national radio in a dozen countries across Europe. That to me is still nuts and something I’m very proud of.
– What happened to the band when you left. Hiatus, disbanded, or continuing on?
They’re figuring things out. Tom, Adam (Jones-Drums) and Jake (Bennett-Bass) did a new record earlier this year under the name Deathflux. I’m still really good mates with all of them, and I love them all. Tom, Adam and I talked about going to Dublin for a weekend later this year.
– Getting PR is an art many bands work hard at succeeding with, but most have limited success at best. Would you say the ability to get good PR was an important aspect of that visibility you managed to get with that band?
Yeah, definitely. I don’t say that to toot my own horn as a Publicist. We made a firm decision early on to put ourselves out there in a way that would reach a wider audience, aware that we couldn’t afford to tour much. It was a tremendous help, and if done right, can really help break a band.
– You started Polymath PR a few years ago. What inspired you to start doing PR, and what happened to make you having a go at doing this professionally?
I was 23 years old and working as an office temp. I hated it. I was temping for a water company in debt collection and one day I got the sack. I got taken into the office, aware my days were numbered, and the thickest black clouds formed outside the window. I got pulled in, told I was sacked, laughed, got up and left.
I spoke to my then girlfriend, Elizabeth, and told her I wanted to give freelancing a go. I figured I could either carry on working jobs I hated or risk it all. I wanted to be a copywriter, but couldn’t get the work.
I was on a forum for freelancers and someone offered me a freelance PR gig. I didn’t even know what PR stood for but I was desperate.
– One may assume that you did well on that first PR gig then?
*laughs* I’m not sure I did well. I didn’t get sacked.
I took it on, fumbled but made it work, and quickly worked out how I could cross this new found skill with working in the music industry. I hit MySpace, started looking up bands, offering my services and slowly built my clients up.
– From freelancing to setting up a company – what amount of time are we talking about?
A few years. The idea of Polymath being a fixed entity came about in 2014. I had been around the block a few times, been nominated for some awards and worked with Jesse Leach from Killswitch Engage and Pete Dolving from The Haunted. I’d made a name for myself, and was ready to set things up proper.
– There are tons of companies out there offering cheap PR runs, and competition in the field appears to be pretty intense. How is life running a PR company in that context?
Its an odd one. I have a few friends who are Publicists and bloody good ones too. There’s an unwritten rule among us in which if one of us gets approached by a band that the other has been handling, we’ll make them aware before confirming the contract.
– Does everybody run by that rule?
I can’t speak for all PR companies, I can only speak for the select few I’m close to and am good friends with. Everyone has a different business practice, but because everyone, especially in the British music industry, knows each other quite well, there is that element of respect which is nice.
That being said, bands and management companies will go there own way and try different PR companies, and that’s fine.
– When did you start exploring acting, and have you had any training or education in the field?
Yes, I studied musical theatre at Lincoln College between the ages of 16 and 18. I finished that course and went on to study music for two years before joining the police for a year as an emergency calltaker.
I’ve acted on and off since I was a child. I still act today, but directing has taken over a bit more, especially in the last year.
– Is that a natural progression, to go from acting to having the desire to create yourself?
Yeah, definitely. It started out with a short film I made called “Nurture Of The Beast” in 2016. It was originally just going to be footage for my showreel but Adam Luff, the screenwriter for The Guiding Light, directed NOTB and decided he could turn it into an actual film. I was all for it. It went on to win a few awards and screened at a dozen festivals around the world.
– Success like that on the first attempt rather fuels a desire to continue on I’d guess?
It did, but it was a bit more than that. Between January 2016 and mid 2017 I had done nine short films as an actor and was burning out. Adam and I talked and he felt similar. So we went to the Cannes Film Festival, got chatting to a few people, felt brave, and decided to make The Guiding Light.
– You have obviously spent a lot of time preparing for this project. How many working hours have been laid into this project so far?
*laughs* Dude, I’ve been working stupid hours the last few months. Its been insane. I’m still doing Polymath, but its been a little nuts. Especially around festival season.
– You, Adam and composer Alex Norman are involved I gather. Are there any more people that have sunk their teeth into the time budget of creating the groundwork for this movie?
Yes, we’ve had some incredible people working on it. Our leading ladies, Jessica Messenger and Martina Lopez, Lauren Parker is our production manager, Rhi Hughes out Art director, Toms Auzins is our director of Photography. We’ve also got Eric Revills from a Derby based band called Taken By The Tide manning the cameras for us. There are a few more people working on it too who have been great.
– I rather guess that financing this project is why you are doing the interviews rounds these days. What is the budget, and what amount needs to be raised to finale this venture as matters look right now?
We’re closing in on £1000 right now, which is great. We’ve set the budget at £12000, and if we don’t make the budget for whatever reason we will still make the film. Our plan right now is to split the filming into three segments, two or three months apart.
– The amount raised will decide what form and shape it’ll be in then, presumably? And with late 2019 as a possible time for the movie to be finished?
Yes, it will be. That’s what we’re working on right now. The amount raised from the crowdfunder, while we hope it will be the target we have in mind, if its not we will still make the film, even if it takes a little longer to get made.
– So, basically, more funds will help this project being finished sooner or to plan, while less funds will make the project longer to complete?
Yes, that’s correct. I’m OK with putting my own money into this, its my idea so it only feels right. We have other funding options too, which we’re exploring.
– A lot about the motivation for the movie is already outlined in the official press release (see HERE), so there’s no need to get into that in this interview. But are there other aspects about this project you want people to know about?
Yeah, two things.
I wanted to say that a big part of the film is about the value of our relationships and how important it is to share these huge events, good and bad, with the people closest to us.
The other thing is about representing people with ailments. I wanted Barbara, our lead character, to be portrayed as a real person not a stereotype.
– Do you believe that you’ll continue doing some odd stuff as a musician here and there in the future?
I’m not against doing music again. I’m still very good friends with Tome Clarke for instance, and we are actually considering doing something – maybe next year.