It’s been a while since we last had Gomez here in Brighton. The release of their new album A New Tide in March and their seemingly stealthy presence in the British music scene over the last few years gave me reason to wonder: would they would still live up to their one time Mercury Music Prize status?
As soon as the drums kicked in halfway through the opening song Win Park Slope, taken from their new album, Gomez had made their presence known once more. They absolutely did not disappoint. That warm, rustic, experimental sound struck the crowd in what I can only describe as a melting pot of euphoria. And whilst the band themselves are nearing towards middle age, their captivating stage presence and interaction with the crowd made for an electric atmosphere. Plunging into the trippy Whippin Piccadilly from their very first album Bring It On, the band announced this song was for “those who forgot we’ve made music for the past 10 years”, clearly asserting their comeback to joyful acclaim.
The band’s sound, however, seems to have taken a new direction, with new songs such as Other Plans incorporating a more folk inspired sound and the older How We Operate packing a punch with a rawer, Pearl Jam inspired edge. Come the end of the gig, as a newly converted Gomez fan, I can confirm with all my Girlshaped enthusiasm that this band has still got it and oh my, do they rock.
I got the chance to speak with the lovely Olly Peacock, Gomez’s drummer, who enlightened me on the bands past few years, musical influences and love for Australian wine…
Your new album was released in March this year – what have the band been up to since you released How We Operate in 2006?
Olly: Well, for the most part we’ve been touring our socks off and recording the latest album, which took about six months to complete. To put it simply, we’ve just been recording and touring away, really.
You recently embarked on a tour of Australia and New Zealand. How was that?
O: It was fantastic. We have a huge fan base in Australia and the Aussies are always terribly enthusiastic. We have a really good market over there, so it’s very easy to do well. We’re really lucky in the fact that because we do so well out there we are able to visit around twice a year, which isn’t possible for most bands. Although Australia, for us, is more about a tour of drinking too much good wine and having far too much fun.
Gomez are signed to the same American label as The Dave Matthews Band; do they have any influence on your new material?
O: Well, the band are part owners of our state side record label. They don’t have a particular influence, we have toured with them a few times and they attract a really different audience. The college crowd that go to gigs over in America tend to get really trashed and the focus isn’t on the actual performance; I find it quite a weird phenomena. But overall, it has helped us having Dave as a boss, so to speak, but there was no particular influence on our music.
The band has a really unique structure, with three singer/ songwriters – does this help or hinder you when making an album?
O: Well, most of us all write. It’s pretty good really because if one person isn’t in range or adaptable then someone else can step in and help out. Sometimes someone will write a song with one of us in mind, that’s really useful because it totally mixes up to song. Generally, it makes for a more adventurous album as a whole.
Back in 1998 Gomez won the Mercury Music Prize for your debut album Bring It On, do you feel that there has been a change in the identity of British music since then?
O: That’s really interesting, actually. When we were getting started it seemed like the English scene was changing, Brit-pop had died down and people were getting more adventurous. Bands such as the Super Furry Animals were making more eclectic sounds. Now it seems like the straight forward stuff coming from America is a big influence, stuff that’s geared towards classic rock and roll. Its good, but it’s not breaking any barriers. Things on the British scene I like more recently are bands such as Tongue, who take a traditional folk sound and mix it with abstract electronic vibes. That kind of stuff I really like.
You’ve supported some amazing acts such as Pearl Jam. Who would be your dream act to tour with?
O: There are probably a bunch. Back in the day I wanted to tour with Beck, just because he’s so amazing. These days, someone like Grizzly Bear would be awesome to tour with.
What’s the most unusual venue you have ever played in?
O: One of our best gigs was on an island called Cockatoo Island near Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a music festival and we were playing on a stage that was essentially like an aircraft hanger. There was about 5000 people squeezed into the crowd, climbing up the walls, it was crazy. We couldn’t put a foot wrong for that hour, as always with Australia, it was a pretty brilliant venue.
Last of all, did you go to University and if so, what would you choose to study if you had the opportunity to go back?
O: I studied Architecture at Birmingham University. It was great, from what I remember! Before the band got signed I was thinking about going back to University, I was looking at film and media courses and at the time there didn’t seem to be a great deal available across the country. But yeah, that’s what I would do. Well, I’d like to think I could do that!