‘Being a performer is like being an athlete - we need to look after our bodies just as much’ - Shamrock Tenor Tom Brandon

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Rostrevor’s Tom Brandon, associate director of Choir of Man and one of the Shamrock Tenors

Tom Brandon
Rostrevor will always be home for Tom Brandon
1. Up and at it - what is your morning routine?

Shower, coffee, walk around the garden, picking up eggs from the chicken hatch, breakfast then emails... and I’m ‘Happy Tom’.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? My fiancée is Spanish, so much of my diet is Mediterranean influenced. I might have wholemeal bread, tomatoes and our own eggs from the chickens in the garden.

Lunch? Lunch is often just a shake – banana, protein powder, oats, Greek yoghurt, cinnamon, milk, and powdered peanut butter.

Evening meal? Dinner is typically something like baked salmon and veg - we’ve a fishmonger who comes into the village every Wednesday, so we get down there in the morning and stock up on salmon, as well as the freshest white fish they have.

3. Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

My fiancée is the healthiest person I know - no refined sugars or processed foods - so I’m learning a lot from her about what I should and shouldn’t be eating. Other than the creatine I take in my afternoon shake, I try to get all my nutrients through my food.

4. Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

I have - I tried intermittent fasting for a bit. Anything restrictive for me isn’t sustainable or healthy. I think we should learn to love and enjoy our food. We are so lucky in Ireland to have such good quality meats and vegetables.

5. Weekend treat?

We’ll pop out to Strandfield just outside Dundalk every so often for their homemade pizzas - they’re unbelievable.

6. How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I train roughly five days a week. There is self-discipline involved in getting to the gym and getting it done on the days I really don’t feel like going, but it sets me up for the rest of the day. It improves my focus, energy-levels and mood. Being a performer is like being an athlete - we need to look after our bodies just as much.

7. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Hold yourself accountable to your goals, not your feelings.

8. Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

To be honest, I was quite chubby throughout my childhood, but I was a decent handballer, footballer and rugby player. I was captain of my school team, but I didn’t really care for or have any understanding of my health or nutrition until my early 20s.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Teetotal - since October. It was messing with my head and the hangovers were no longer worth it. I don’t really party, as such, but I do like going to the pub and watching the football. Having so many alcohol-free options available now makes it feel ‘normal’. Guinness zero is the one for me.

10. Stairs or lift?

Stairs - always (unless I’m on the London Underground; those spiral staircases are long...).

11. What book are you currently reading?

I’m not a big reader (I wish I was - I just find it difficult to focus/switch off) - I’m more of a listener. I love listening to Diary of a CEO - I highly recommend listening to the Layne Norton episode.

12. Best Netflix/streaming TV?

The Gentlemen, My Name and Blue Lights.

13. Any new skills or hobbies?

I recently started CrossFit - after years of being a sceptic. It is for everyone; you just need the right coaches and environment. I’m rarely in the same place for longer than four weeks at a time, so I take drop-in classes where I can. Right now, I’m out in Tampa, Florida, and training at a CrossFit box. It really helps me disconnect after a day at work.

14. How do you relax?

I love going for a walk with the dogs and for a coffee at Finegan & Son in Newry or Church Lane Coffee in Warrenpoint.

15. What would you tell your younger self?

Care less about what people think of you.

16. What are your goals for 2024?

10 unbroken RMUs (Ring Muscle-Up); 200kg deadlift; staying injury-free.

17. What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I sleep a lot. I am asleep by 11pm most evenings and up around 8/8.30am - depending on what my work commitments are that day.

Rostrevor is and always will be my home... We sometimes take for granted how nice Irish people are. The communities our families have built over centuries are priceless

18. Biggest gripe or regret?

I did Irish dancing as a child, but at the time, I didn’t really enjoy it and eventually gave up. I did so many things - I played violin, cello, oboe, Spanish guitar - that I no longer do. Obviously, now I look back, I see how lucky I was to have parents who could afford to send me to all those lessons, but I only wanted to play football or rugby. As a performer, the more strings to your bow, the better. I wish I’d kept all those instruments and dance classes up.

19. Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

My dream 10 years ago would have been to live in London and work in the West End. Having travelled (and performed in the West End) and seen a lot of the world (92 countries, 36 US states), I appreciate home more than ever. We sometimes take for granted how nice Irish people are. The communities our families have built over centuries are priceless. Rostrevor is and always will be my home. My fiancee and I have a flat in her home in Tarragona, Spain, which is a dream come true and we absolutely love it there - particularly the food and the weather - but we both appreciate the simple things in life, which Rostrevor does best.

20. Has coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event - changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I lost my best friend (and cousin) Bill in 2022 to cancer. He was the most positive, caring and selfless person I’ve ever known and he truly inspired me to be the best version of myself. I wish I could tell him now how important he was - not just to me, but to our family and the whole Rostrevor community.

:: Tom Brandon will be singing with the Shamrock Tenors when they make their West End debut with the Live in London show, running at the Adelphi Theatre on July 30.