Tom Monks is a critically acclaimed multi-instrumental singer, producer, songwriter and rock'n'roller, unleashing whimsically infectious songs under the 'Breaking News' pseudonym with an album on the way.
When not touring the UK and Europe with bands like Nine Below Zero, The Aim, The Truth, NOVA Halo and the Nathan Persad Trio, he's putting his all into Sarf East London's local live music scene.
With his keyboard wizardry, mean guitar, and energetic showmanship, Tom's been putting Sidcup on the map since flying out of Queen Mary's maternity ward in the mid 1990's with a Minimoog, moptop and mohair suit.
"An immense talent"
- Dennis Greaves, Nine Below Zero
- The Iron Horse, music venue
"Just a bundle of energy, talent, charisma and massive stage presence all wrapped up in one utterly lovely human being"
- Calli Malpas
- Ashley Stacey
"Seriously who IS this guy half my age and HOW does he play this stuff?"
- Nathan Persad
- Grant Judges, The Aim
“In the late 90's, I was a toddler browsing a seaside gift shop, and begged my dad for a toy accordion on display. I got home, figured out The Simpsons theme, then intensively dived through my family's and neighbours’ record collections.
Swiftly graduating to a Bontempi, my parents sent me to weekly lessons - where I learnt how notes work with each other, any Beatles song I wanted, and was eventually forgiven for not being able to sight read.
When I was 10 I joined a local youth big band. This was ideal as unlike other opportunities for musical sprogs, I didn't need sheet music - just to learn the crucial licks and progressions and then vibe it. I absolutely loved it. Before I finished my GCSE's I had already been thrown in front of packed crowds at The Barbican, Lords Stadium, the IndigO2, and the Royal Albert Hall.
Lugging a Yamaha stage piano as a hypermobile 14-year-old became a mission, culminating in dragging it from Sidcup to Trafalgar Square during the morning rush hour only to be told "we don't have any inputs left; you have to use our one."
I furiously stormed to Denmark Street, bought an electric guitar, and fell in love with blues, punk, rock & roll, and whatever appealed in my local HMV while it still existed. Having a portable instrument allowed me to explore my local music scene - developing my craft and identity, and beginning collaborations instantly.
Once I got a driving licence, I dusted off my keyboard and had a brief stint with cover bands to make some dosh on Saturday nights. Although playing my heart out to territorial drunkards screaming 'play sweet caroline', and 'you're far too young to know the most famous music ever' eventually destroyed my soul, I figured out how to faithfully reproduce sounds I'd hear and admire in famous records, expanding my palette beyond previously conceivable.
Searching for a purpose, I found myself at a jam night at the The Pelton Arms in Greenwich, which turned out to be a Nine Below Zero warm-up gig. I was instantly blown away by the musicianship and emotional expression, and started to attend the jams on the regular purely to learn; absorbing licks, techniques and tunes from some of the most seasoned and accomplished players I'd ever seen.
One thing lead to another, Dennis signed the adoption papers and I coated Nine Below Zero’s latest album ‘Avalanche’ with some ivory, rotary, analog and plucked sonic vibrations in the creative paradise of Glenn Tilbrook's 45RPM Studios.
We are currently touring the album, playing rammed venues from the intimate to the prestigious, all over the UK and Europe. We get out and about so probably have a show near you, come down and watch! And say hi!
Amongst the tour dates, I've also got my debut album on the way with 'Breaking News', my solo project featuring folks such as Nancy Gorman of NOVA Halo and the critically acclaimed Nathan Persad - plus another rock band on the side in pre-production, juggled amongst writing and recording in the studio with various outfits - and sometimes even as a producer.
So yeah! That's about it so far. And no, I don't know how to play Sweet Caroline. I've not even plugged in my keyboard yet and you've already spilt beer over it. Leave me alone."
📷 Nancy Gorman, Jan 2021
Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Nov 2014
📷 Royal Albert Hall
The 100 Club, London, Nov 2021
📷 Kay Janet Photography
Live on Erith Pier, Sep 2019
📷 Billy Collins @ Taking The Pixels
Malmö, Sweden, Mar 2022