Interview: Ward Thomas on Their New Album ‘Music in the Madness’ and the Power of Music to Unite People and Provide Us with Hope in Turbulent Times

Emily Campbell

Impact’s music editor Emily Campbell spoke to Catherine of sister country duo, Ward Thomas about their recently released fifth studio album ‘Music in the Madness’, starting out as one of the first UK country acts and the current climate of the music industry. 

Hampshire-based, country duo Ward Thomas is made up of twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas. They were one of the first UK country acts and started releasing music back in 2014, alongside a handful of other country artists such as The Shires. The duo’s name is a nod to their familial bond and their music covers themes such as family, reflection, love, age and the current climate in the music industry and beyond. 

At the start of the interview, I wanted to delve into what sparked Ward Thomas’ initial desire to be musicians. Catherine explained that they had always sung from a young age and while she saw it as a hobby, Lizzy always thought she would love to do it as a career. As they wrote songs and networked, people started to tell them that they should take their songs to the city of country, Nashville. For the duo, “it all became much more of a reality, and we sort of woke up and we were here and now we wouldn’t want it any other way!” Catherine spoke further on their beginnings in the music industry, highlighting that when they first started out in the UK “the country scene was very much at the baby stages.” This helped them though because the genre was rather unusual in the UK and “no one really thought that UK country acts were a thing.” At the same time country duo, The Shires made up of Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes also started out so “there was a country push at that moment and there were two of us doing it, so it made the case stronger. The rest is history really.” 

it is very harmony based and lyrical as well as being very much rooted in the country genre

For Catherine and Lizzy, their initial musical inspiration was The Chicks, an all-female, country music band from Texas. In addition to The Chicks, they also seek continuous inspiration from the likes of Dolly Parton, Brandy Carlisle, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, people that they “listen to still now all the time.” Ward Thomas’ sound is very distinctive from these artists and in the global country music scene because it is very harmony based and lyrical as well as being very much rooted in the country genre. This has made them stand out and their uniqueness is confirmed by the fact you can put any song by them on and immediately recognise it is their vocals and musical talent, which is the key indication of authentic and original music.  


They are of course always up for collaborations especially after the success of their collaboration of Halfway with James Blunt in 2020. “Oh my gosh, yes, we would love to do some more collaborations. In fact, we’re sort of working on trying to get a couple more in the woodworks at the moment. It was a lot of fun doing that with James Blunt and that came about so organically and then going out on tour with him afterwards.” I asked Catherine who would be some bucket list artists to collaborate with and she enthusiastically replied that Brandy Carlisle, The Chicks and Dolly would be up there but “those are the pipe dream ones, we’ll see what the realistic ones are!” 

Ward Thomas first released music in the form of a strongly country-based album titled ‘From Where We Stand’ in 2014. Their second and most well-known album, ‘Cartwheels’ (2016) moved slightly more into the country-pop genre, grabbing the attention of a wide audience and achieving number 1 in the UK charts. Subsequent studio albums ‘Restless Minds’ and ‘Invitation’, while still being country, also tap into pop influences and their overall sound is more experimental than previous music. 

They have brought their country roots to the forefront of the album

‘Music in the Madness’, which was released on the 10th of March, however, encapsulates what Ward Thomas are all about. They have brought their country roots to the forefront of the album and have organically written and produced music that resonates the most with them and works well with their harmony-based sound. Catherine pointed out that they “wanted to stick with country this time round. When we were doing our record ‘Restless Minds’, we wanted to push it outside the box, but this time round we were like this is the music we love, this is the music we listen to, and this is the music we want to make. We were much more open minded and thought let’s make it like we are in Nashville, let’s record it in a live room, let’s have our band in there with us. So, it’s very much authentic country music I would say.” After five albums they have come to the point where they have just decided to work on the songs that they know and make them the best that they can. “I think the more albums you do the more you realise let’s just do what we do and hope people like it instead of trying to tweak it. The priority is our craft and our song writing, our music is not trying to sort of fit in anymore.” 

There is always something going on and we have to find the music in it, or we will just always be stressed and worried”

Following on from Catherine’s comments about returning to their roots and recording the album in Nashville, I was interested in the recording process and the inspirations for the album. She replied that the writing and recording process was different to the previous album which had been recorded remotely during the pandemic because this time they were in Nashville. The inspiration for the album came from what was going on around them, “we had just got over the pandemic and we were just thinking life had got back to normal then Ukraine was invaded and suddenly it was like wow there is literally no respite. There is always something going on and we have to find the music in it, or we will just always be stressed and worried. We found these amazing stories of people getting married on the front line in Ukraine and people rescuing others as much as possible from wildfires that were happening. We sort of thought that’s the music in the madness, and we wrote the song Music In The Madness and the rest of the album followed.”  

‘Music in the Madness’ is made up of 12 songs and features a cover of Razor Light’s America, so I wanted to find out the reasons behind choosing to put that cover on the album, Catherine responded by saying that they “were doing a lot of covers and that one really stood out to us. When it came to putting the album together, we were like that song works with this whole music in the madness feel so that’s how it came about.” 

Most artists have a favourite song within an album that they particularly enjoyed writing or playing. For Lizzy and Catherine, their favourite piece of written work from the album is Love Does, a song that depicts how we support and lean on each other during difficult times and the challenges we are all prepared to go through for those that we love. Love Does is also the song they are proudest of and the lyrical content particularly resonates at the moment for many people, including myself. In terms of live performance however, Justice & Mercy “has proven one of the most fun to play live, having played it at the C2C Festival, this is going to be fun to play live on tour.” 

Having listened to Ward Thomas from the very start of their career, I went to a show during one of their first tours back in 2017 at the O2 Academy Oxford. Their performance was brilliant, and the intimate venue created a great acoustic. I was therefore interested to find out how they progressed from these types of venues to larger ones which they will be performing at on their upcoming tour. “I think the only difference musically is we are now bringing a full kit out and a bass player, so we are going to have a full band set up and that’s really exciting because it gives us more scope to do big songs and then pull it all the way back and do quiet ones and have that moment. They’re theatre venues so they still feel like we’re all hanging out and there’s not going to be rowdy like everyone getting drunk and on sticky floors! It’s still very much like a nice theatre vibe where people will sit and listen and enjoy the music hopefully. In terms of preparation, we now have five albums worth of material so writing a set list has been difficult because we have had to cut songs that we would normally have played out and we’ve worked on new songs that we’ve never really played so it’s trying to sort of find that balance.” 

we’re looking forward to it, the last time we were on the road was November 2021

Ward Thomas are setting out on their tour across the UK on 30th of March, starting with Glasgow and ending with Bath on the 18th of April. Catherine commented that she is “so excited we’ve got the set list ready, we’ve been thinking about styling and packing. We’re looking forward to it, the last time we were on the road was November 2021 and it’s crazy to think a year and a bit has gone by so we’re ready to get back out there.” You can also catch their support act Charlie Walsham who is as Catherine states “really, really good” not only a skilled guitar player but also an excellent songwriter, “he is what is exciting in Nashville right now.” 

In the last few years social media has increasingly become more interwoven into the music industry and is one of the key mediums for artists to market themselves and share music to fans and future listeners. I was therefore interested to gain some insight from Catherine on the topic. She commented that she “kind of hates it and kind of loves it because it has created a lot of opportunities for people. It’s been an amazing place for creators to show themselves like oh my goodness the talent that is out there that you wouldn’t know about if it wasn’t for these platforms. I think it’s also created a lot of pressure and it’s made it very one dimensional. If you get a big Tik Tok hit, then you’re suddenly thrown into the limelight but then what if you don’t get another one. It does create a very kind of fickle world. So, I think as long as it’s being used correctly, and the consumers are enjoying the content and not putting too much pressure it can be really positive. The duo as a result of this social media craze feel that they have to be constantly present on platforms because it is part of being a musician at the moment, “it’s a very necessary evil in some ways and it’s also a really wonderful space in other ways.”  

just focus on your craft, focus on your music and just try and get better and better

Lastly, I asked Catherine if she had any advice to offer to any aspiring musicians among our readers… “I think when it comes to making a career out of this just focus on your craft, focus on your music and just try and get better and better. Don’t get side-tracked by this world of trying to be influencers and social media stars although that can very much help a career. Your craft is the most important thing.” 

Emily Campbell

Featured Image courtesy of Marek Puc. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 courtesy of @wardthomasmusic via Instagram.com. No changes were made to these images.

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