It was blowing a gale outside, but I found a quiet corner in Arcadia Bar, Headingley, to talk to Rupert Stroud ahead of his EP launch later this month.
Sitting with a glass of red wine, I got a glimpse of the warm heart of behind the young man whose career has been steadily gaining momentum. We chatted about his plans for the future, the Importance of his fans and getting advice from James Blunt.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
As long as I can remember, music has always been something I was passionate about. My mum always reminds me, when I was about three years old sitting in the back of the car while we were travelling to my grandmas on a weekend, I'd be singing along to Tom Petty on tape and Simply Red, which people don't think is really cool, but I love Mick Hucknall.
You know you would get on very well with Jason from Allusondrugs, he is a massive Simply Red fan, and it is one of his first questions to people...
...I did a funny tweet when Ed Sheeran was on The Brits saying 'he is a bit like this generations Mick Hucknall', people really reacted to it. I didn't say it as a dig, because I think they are both really talented, but then I suppose music is so subjective. Not everyone likes me as I have found.
Are people quite cruel then?
Not so much cruel, I haven't had trolls on twitter yet, but over the last few years I have built up a tougher skin. You get a lot of knock backs, whether it is trying to get radio play or features on websites, gigs or festivals.
I suppose if you are passionate about it and it is in the blood you will keep going...
Yeah and because I am not delusional and I know I have something to offer the music industry. I am passionate about my music and I love connecting with people. I know these strangers on the internet and people who come up to me after gigs wouldn't be blowing smoke up my arse and buying my CD if they didn't like it. That is why I always say the best review is what the public think.
Do you care what the music magazines say?
People respond to the accolades and when I got played on Radio 2, people were like oh my god and suddenly started taking notice. It wasn't like my music suddenly changed, but it is how people validate success. Like the James Blunt support, everyone just suddenly started taking notice.
Where were you 5 years ago?
I was probably working on my album Chasing The Night with Will Jackson at Soundworks Studios. That is where I started to find my songwriting voice. I really started to get a swagger in my writing and get more confidence in what I was doing. Life experience, irritating girlfriends, bad breakups, experiences with friends, relationships falling apart around me, this all helped.
Do you write from the heart?
Yes. Sometimes I write about people around me, but I put it in to the first perspective, to make it connect with people more.
When you are stuck for inspiration, where do you turn to?
I suppose I do get a writers block, but I can never just say...Right I am going to write a song today! Then sometimes I have such a flow of inspiration, I can have a song written, or pretty much the bare bones of it, in about 30 minutes.
I can get inspiration from reading a newspaper, watching TV or going to the cinema. I pick up interesting conversations on the train or something my friends will say that they will not think is poetic in the slightest, but the way they construct that sentence is interesting. Or at night, when I am just about to fall asleep, this is often when I think of a line, and I force myself to wake up and write it down, because I'll forget in the morning and be really annoyed.
Where would you like to be ideally in 5 years time? On a beach with Rihanna?
That would be nice, or even recording with Rihanna, everything she touches turns to gold! Let's call up Paul McCartney and Kanye West and make another acoustic song. I am always one for reaching for the stars.
Is there is a song title there somewhere??
(Hahaha) Yeah, but I think it has already been done. I'd love to be touring the world with a platinum selling album, or platinum streaming album as it is going right now. I have always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand, so that would be a good excuse to go and have a holiday after touring. I could have a gig in the Sydney Opera House.
I would love to be stinking rich like Ed Sheeran, but there is a certain way I would like my career to go and there are things I wouldn't do. If the call came in from Simon Cowell saying, 'Hi Rupert, you have had a number 1 single, the X Factor is going on right now and we'd like you to perform live'...I'd would like to say, shove it!! However, I have to put my feelings aside and think a lot of my fans may be fans of the show, so it is all about entertaining my audience.
You seem like a fairly laid back chap, but what gets you really angry?
Something I heard on the news, about the grooming of the girls and the authorities who ignored it. Or that man who was in charge from Hillsborough, who finally came forward and said there was one decision he could have made and all this could have been avoided. The news gets me really angry and depresses me! I like to watch the news to be informed, but I don't like it to affect me so much. That's why I like watching Russell Howard's Good News, it is silly news and there is always one story at the end which is about someone overcoming adversity.
What is the happiest moment you can remember?
Meeting my baby Nephew Rory, we have been waiting a long time to have a little baby Stroud come in to the family. I cried when I met him, I am not a crier, I lock up my feelings, but I know how much he meant to my brother and his wife. Spending time with him is incredible and really fun and I am really proud to have also been made one of his guardians, like his mentor.
Professionally, it was the James Blunt support gig. It was great to have a beer with him and he gave me some good advice. The day went by so quickly though. I remember stepping on stage, there was around 5000 people there and I was really nervous, but as soon as I played that first chord and sang that first note, it went like a dream. Even every joke I told went down well! I didn't have any planned, or any banter, I didn't even know I was going to say as much as I did, but I had the audience in hysterics. At the end of the set I said that it would be lovely to meet some of you at the merch tent, I got there and there was like 100 people waiting for autographs, to take photos and buy CD's, it was incredible.
Fan interaction is really important to me and what keeps me going when I am not getting the gigs. I remember being at Oakwell last year and again at the end of the set I said 'I would love to meet you all, so if you want a CD or a picture, come and say hi' and there was a whole line of kids waiting. That is what is really important to me.
If you were not doing this right now, what would you be doing?
I have NO idea!! All of three of my brothers are in recruitment, they earn good money. I am the poor musician. I can imagine I'd be good at it, because I am good at talking. (Pausing for thought) I did used to really enjoy bartending when I was younger, but maybe not so much now. There was a lot of attention from girls too! Crazy because all was doing is serving them drinks.
What was the last song that stopped you in your tracks or tugged on your heart strings made you cry?
There are 2 songs that stopped me in my tracks.
The one that made me cry was Jeff Buckleys Hallelujah, it is brilliant, it is like a rewrite really. I am a massive Leonard Cohen Fan and I saw him at the Leeds Arena recently, he was phenomenal and he was getting down on his knees and singing. I am a much younger man and I don't think I could do that. He was unbelievable, but the Jeff Buckley version is breathtaking.
Then I think the most brilliant piece of music I have ever heard is Bittersweet Symphony by the verve, I think it is from the influence of my older brother Guy, who used to blast this out of his room and I was 9 or 10 years old and they have become embedded in my musical taste. That played a lot in to the way I want my music to be recorded. Me and Will Jackson (my producer) have a lot of the same musical interests and loves.
What are your plans for this year, what can we expect from you next?
(Said with a deep voice and a furrowed brow) World domination obviously! That would be great.
I guess the most immediate Leeds date I have is my EP launch on April the 17th at The Wardrobe. I am really excited about it and I have played some really great gigs there and it is great to be going back. I have my friend from the PR company Gordon coming up and the Anna Pancaldi is support me, she has a beautiful voice.
Tickets are still available at http://www.thewardrobe.co.uk/event/rupert-stroud/
I am also playing Live at Leeds for the third time now, definitely one of the coolest city festivals. Then Apollo festival in York, headlined by the Inspiral Carpets, Oakwell Festival in Gomersal in July, headlined by the feeling and Stooshe, who I have to say I am very excited to see them and looking forward to a selfie with them.
Download "Talk to you" https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/talk-to-you-ep/id966953853 and watch the video here: