THERE’s been a lot of growing up during the making of Ward Thomas’s third album Restless Minds.
Writing and recording the follow-up to their 2016 No1 album Cartwheels, country-pop twins Lizzy and Catherine Ward Thomas, 24, “became young women”.“We grew up,” says Catherine.
Damien Fry Ward Thomas’ new album Restless Minds is about growing up while keeping sharp like Taylor Swift
“We’ve got a lot of songs on the album that are very much influenced by our relationship.
“Being twins, we live together, were in the same classes at school and have the same career and friends. But we are very much two separate adults.”
Next to her, blonde Lizzy is nodding away. “I think it was a huge learning curve for us. We had been blissfully unaware of this world when we came into music.”
Chatting at the office of the duo’s publicist, Catherine says: “After Cartwheels, change happened which was almost a humbling experience.
Damien Fry Sisters Lizzy and Catherine Ward Thomas agree they are still learning how to deal with adulthood as they prepare for the release of their second album in October Official lyrics video for the song Lie Like Me by Ward Thomas
“We didn’t get swept up in the excitement and so when we went to start writing Restless Minds, all of the thoughts and feelings that we were having were very much deeper rooted and more grown up. We wanted to present a better version of ourselves.”
We have insecurities just like everyone else
Ward Thomas on projecting a polished look versus their real image
Like other Brit country duo The Shires, Ward Thomas are a young act, flying the flag for country music who aren’t from Nashville.
They grew up on a farm in Petersfield, Hampshire, and became fans of this style of music after hearing the likes of Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood.
Alamy Catherine and Lizzy Ward grew up in Petersfield, Hampshire, a far cry from their Nashville sound
“We just loved the way the music told stories and our voices seemed to suit this style too,” says Lizzy. “Though we never consciously tried to be country.”
Restless Minds has a poppier approach than Cartwheels and Catherine says: “We developed our taste and style.
We listen to more pop music now. Modern country music has grown more pop-like.
“We listen to a lot of Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves. They are the two leading country girls out there who mix country with pop.”
Getty – Contributor Kacey Musgraves is one of the artists who has inspired Ward Thomas throughout their careers
On the new record, many songs are influenced by the impact of social media and its effect on anxiety, something Ward Thomas think is one of the most important issues affecting young people.
“I think in the future we will talk about our phone addiction like we talk about cigarettes in the Fifties, when everybody smoked,” says Lizzy.
“In a few years’ time, we will look back and remember how we were all so addicted to phones.”
The pressures created by social media and similar themes influenced No Filter, the lead track on Restless Minds, and new single Lie Like Me.
2016 Andrew Benge Issues like the pressures of social media and phone addiction have inspired the songs on Restless Minds
Catherine says: “No Filter came after we were at a photoshoot and were being positioned on the floor in a certain way to get a shot.
Our clothes were tucked in and make-up artists around to touch us up.
“We were being asked to keep still and look natural when it was anything but natural. We were trying to be styled to look unrealistically perfect — it’s not real.”
Lizzie says: “We go through the same insecurities as everyone else and the video for Lie Like Me is trying to compare the polished look with the natural jeans look where we look like the real us.
Damien Fry Ward Thomas suffer the same insecurities as everyone else in not putting out an image which is too polished
“And we don’t want to condone the dolled-up version of us either,” stresses Catherine. “We love getting dressed-up and putting make-up on, but we just want to stress everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin when they get out of bed too.” “There’s a fantastic and inspirational woman on Twitter, Celeste Barber (an Australian comedian) who recreates famous people’s photos,” says Lizzy.
“She splits her screen with the celebrity’s photo and her own version and points out how ridiculous some positions are. It’s great as it’s real life versus what the public deems as real.”
Ward Thomas wrote with many more people for Restless Minds including Ed Drewett (Little Mix, Olly Murs), Steve Jobson (Paloma Faith) and Rachel Furner (Craig David) which reflects a new confidence the success of Cartwheels had given the sisters.
Getty – Contributor Ward Thomas grew up listening to Dixie Chicks who influenced their sound from early on
“Working with new people was a good way to branch out and even writing with Rebekah Powell and Jessica Sharman again was a different approach.
“We wrote Lie Like Me with Rebekah and Jessica which is one of the most pop songs on the album, I would say,” says Lizzy.
“It shows our progression and our growth.”
Lizzy says: “We read an interview with Taylor Swift who was asked if she was ever going to make an album like Red again, and she said that every album she made she wanted to be different because Red will always be there as will 1989.
Getty – Contributor Catherine and Lizzy have always idolised Taylor Swift for being musically sharp and smart
“That is so true and like most artists, musically we wanted to create something different to Cartwheels.”
Catherine and Lizzy again worked with Swedish producer Martin Terefe, who produced Cartwheels as well as work with A-Ha, KT Tunstall and Mary J Blige, and also with Joe Rubel who has worked with Ed Sheeran.
“It was very interesting as they worked differently so we learned a lot,” says Catherine.
“We’d worked with Martin before but it was yet again a different experience.
“He’d grown with us musically. We’d written some of the songs on the first album with him and he understood where we were going.
PA:Press Association The girls admire Ed Sheeran as an artist as well as his business sense but haven’t met him yet
Joe Rubel was a breath of fresh air. We learnt from him and had a lot of fun.
It was very exciting having both of them as producers on this record and has made it a well-rounded, different sounding album.”
This Too Will Pass, the final song on Restless Minds came after Catherine and Lizzy had had enough of each other after a long session in the studio.
Catherine says: “We’d been around each other a bit too long and were feeling a bit low.
Damien Fry Since Cartwheels the twins have had a lot of ups and downs which has influenced the new album Restless Minds
“We were talking about our relationship and all the highs and lows we have gone through together in life, like our parents’ divorce and moving away from our family and the phrase we kept coming back to was, ‘This Too Will Pass’.
No matter how bad or great a situation is, it passes.
“So, we sat down and had this conversation and that song came out.”
And the sisters agree they are still learning how to deal with life as adults and problems that arise on the way.
Getty – Contributor Both agree that touring is fun but Lizzy used to forget lyrics due to anxiety over what to say to the audience
“We have had to adjust to adulthood in many ways like paying bills, taking care of ourselves,” says Lizzy.
“When you are young you always have someone taking care of everything for you but when we went through our parents’ divorce it was scary.
“We were 11 and I think it affected us a lot. Now we live together in our own place and we have boyfriends who get on well, but are 24 so still very young.”
Catherine adds: “We share the usual anxieties you go through in your twenties. It can be overwhelming at times as growing up is tough and it’s meant to be all about fun.”
Getty – Contributor Both girls have always admired legend Bonnie Raitt and when they met they chatted about dogs
What both agree is fun, is going on the road, though it’s not always been that way. “When we were first starting out on tour I used to get so anxious before going on stage,” reveals Lizzy.
“I’d forget lyrics because I was thinking about what we were going to say to the audience. Now I’ve learned to be in the moment.”
And playing shows, the girls have managed to meet some of their heroes.
“I met Bonnie Raitt. Though we didn’t actually talk about music we chatted about dogs,” laughs Lizzy.
PA:Press Association/PA Images The twins have accrued a number of famous friends including Paloma Faith who they recently supported
Another famous friend is Paloma Faith who Catherine and Lizzy supported recently. “She’s really cool and interesting,” says Lizzy.
“We’ve had good chats with her over lunch at a studio we were all working on.”
One idol both sisters would like to meet is Taylor Swift.
“We both love her,” says Catherine.
She is a sharp and very smart woman who has a lot of things right.
Ward Thomas on Taylor Swift
“Her songwriting is just amazing. She is a massive influence on us. We are fans of her song structure and lyrics.”
Lizzy adds: “We’d also like to meet Ed Sheeran.
“I’ve a huge amount of respect for him as a businessman and artist.
“He seems so down to earth and is always just himself and, I think, the definition of cool.
Getty – Contributor Restless Minds is the new album by Ward Thomas and is out on October 5
“His brother Matt worked on the strings on this album and I really enjoyed working with him,” says Catherine.
“His string arrangements are so beautiful. I’ve heard Ed really values his brother’s opinion on his own music.