Dedicated forgoers of fashion

After seven years in the business Southport five-piece Gomez are pretty disillusioned – especially with the press. Lynette Alcock pokes her head above the parapet for a chat with singer and guitarist Tom Gray ahead of the band's Norwich date on November 26.

I could start by saying that Gomez are one of the most pioneering bands of the last decade, creating experimental and progressive music that is truly exciting to listen to.

Equally, like some in the music press, I could slam Gomez for being introverted, ignoring music genre and fashion and just making the music they enjoy.

As Gomez's singer and guitarist Tom Gray explains: “In Britain we are obsessed with novelty, everything has to be a surprise and every band has to be the next big thing – I get tired of all that.

“I really feel sorry for bands who get put on a pedestal by the music press because they are only put there to be pulled down again.”

And Gomez should know.

In 1998, without ever having played a live gig, Gomez outstripped Robbie Williams and the Verve to pick up the Mercury Music Prize with their album Bring it On.

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From a grubby garage band they were catapulted to national – and soon after – international fame. However, it wasn't long before their albums were being criticised in the NME for being “too Gomez” the band were accused of being in “Gomezworld” and repeatedly attacked for their lack of rock star image. Admittedly, inserting a sample of Sean Connery repeating his name and age in the middle of an indie track might not be everyone's cup of tea. Likewise, Ben Ottewell's gravelly voice might leave you cold. But, at the end of the day, they are five guys who make good melodic music and they are tired of being criticised for it.

“As a band we stand in clear cultural objection to what the NME represent,” says Tom. “We couldn't care less about fashion – we make music because we want to make music which they hate. I mean at 27, having been in this band for seven years, I am a music veteran, which is ridiculous.”

Now the group spend more time in the States where they say music is received as entertainment.

Their latest album, Split the Difference, has met with a warmer response in Britain dubbed their “best work yet” and praised for being more straightforward than other Gomez albums.

However, Gomez have not given up experimenting, it is just that this experiment turned out easier to listen to than previous albums.

“Making a record like this was an experiment for us,” says Tom. “While it is straightforward for a Gomez album it is still a complex record.

“It is always about doing something different with us and something that is interesting to us. We don't really think about the audience when we make music it is about what we want to do at that time.

“We are really pleased with it, I think it will fit nicely into our canon.”

But the album release has not been without its problems.

“Our little Hut label got closed down just before the album came out,” explains Tom.

“So it was not released by the little caring family we have had for the past seven years. All the people who had worked on the record were no longer on it which was a terrible shame.

“Record companies are motivated from the top down, so when you lose your friends and the people that care about you it's not good.

Ultimately, it didn't work out with Virgin and now we are in the middle of negotiating deals.”

But despite a difficult year the band still have their feet on the ground and their heads together.

“As a unit we are more fighting fit now that we have ever been,” says Tom.

“This bunch of guys are my best friends we have been together for the best part of our adult lives.

“This group has always been much more than just a band it is a head space for us.

“I don't know what the future for Gomez is. We still have a lot of music in us and while that is still there we will keep making music, how and where we do that I don't know but hopefully we will have a long career.

“I like to think of us as lifers.”

t Support comes from electro-guitar rock pioneers from South London, The Koreans. Signed to Manchester indie label, Storm Music, the band's sound balances the soulful, rhythmic flair of early Rolling Stones alongside the electro disco beats of New Order and Daft Punk. The Koreans' third single, Still Strung Out, was Virgin Breakfast single of the week and it inspired Steve Lamacq to feature the boys as his New Favourite Band on his BBC 6 Music show and plays on Radio 1.

t Gomez play the UEA LCR, Norwich, on Friday November 26. Tickets at £15 in advance are available in Norwich from UEA Union, Waterfront, Soundclash and HMV. Credit card bookings 01603 508050 or www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

COMPETITION

Event, in association with APB and the Union of UEA Students, is giving away three pairs of tickets to see Gomez when they play the UEA, Norwich, on Friday November 26, to the first three entries out of the bag that correctly answer the following question:

t Complete this Gomez album title – Bring It……

Send your answer on a postcard, to arrive by Wednesday November 24, including a daytime phone number, to Colin Wilson, Event/Gomez Competition, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE. You can email your answer to colin.wilson@archant.co.uk

Usual Archant rules apply.

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