THEY were described by music mogul Seymour Stein as ‘the best band since The Smiths’ but if Thom Rylance wants a reaction to his songs he often turns to his mum Julie.

Thom is the frontman of The Lottery Winners who were snapped up by Warner Bros. Records and their American label Sire Records two years ago.

Since then the four-piece, who hail from Leigh and Lowton, have been working on their debut album which is now in the hands of music industry experts across the pond. Suffice to say they are the perfect headliners for RivFest’s ‘Breaking Through’ showcase at Parr Hall on July 13.

The Lottery Winners have also been working with Fin Reeves, the brother of the late Viola Beach guitarist River Reeves, on a video for their track, Little Things, filmed at Dock10 in MediaCity.

Thom said: “It was a live track that we recorded at MediaCity which was insane because there were people recording us on these big robotic cameras. In terms of filming it was the biggest project we’ve been a part of.

“It was the first time we’d met Fin and he was a really good guy. We’re hoping to work with him again in the future.

“We’re not sure if Little Things is going to be a single yet but it’s a really good song. My mum likes it. My mum’s very picky. She doesn’t like 80 per cent of our album.”

In fact, Thom’s mum is one of the few people to have heard the long-awaited record at this stage.

After finishing in the studio with Tristan Ivemy, who has worked with Frank Turner, the album is under wraps at Warner Bros who have big plans for the indie pop group.

Thom, 27, added: “It’s all done and it’s in the hands of Warner Bros now. So as we speak I’m sure there are people sat around massive tables somewhere in New York talking about me in my flat above a carpet shop. They’ll be discussing how they’re going to turn me into a rock star. It’s the first time I’ve been truly proud of a thing that we’ve made.”

The Lottery Winners have been playing together for almost a decade but around three-quarters of the record will be all new material as the band saw the record deal as a line in the sand.

Thom said: “For me it marked the start of the band. I feel like the rest of it was all just preparation.

“It is definitely surreal – the magnitude of it – because before this I would be so impulsive.

“I’d just write a song, record it the next day and then it’d be online the day after that. But this time it takes lots and lots of planning before you can do anything like that. It took us more than a year to record the album because we wanted it to be as good as it could be. Since that we’ve been in planning with various different people who earn more money than I ever will. It’s insane that I’ve even got Seymour Stein’s number.

“It’s really surreal when I get a phone call from him and he just wants to talk about records. We get to meet those crazy people. I just still can’t believe what Seymour has done and how much respect he has for me as a songwriter when he was responsible for Madonna, The Ramones and Talking Heads. He signed a lot of my favourite bands.”

Talking of favourite bands, the Lottery Winners owe it all to a Warrington band called Bill Davro.

Thom added: “I was obsessed with them. I’d broken up with my first girlfriend and they had this song called And Even Though and it got me through the break-up.

“I loved the band so much that I basically started some poor tribute band. That’s what the Lottery Winners started out as before we started writing in our own style.”

And in a nice ‘full circle’ moment it was Bill Davro bassist and festival organiser Mike Grainger that persuaded Thom to headline RivFest.

Thom said: “He said: ‘I want you to headline’. I was like: ‘You’re an idiot’. He was ringing me all hours trying to persuade me and we finally agreed but I’m still a bit nervous about it to be honest...”