Andrew Popescu speaks to Ian Ball about the latest Gomez album and the UK band’s upcoming Australian tour.
Q. Your new album Whatever’s On Your Mind boasts quite a big sound. What prompted the extensive use of brass and strings?
A. We have a friend, who I’ve been working in New York with, called Oliver Kraus. He’s a touring musician; plays cello for a lot of different bands. As a result of the way we wrote this record, there were a lot of parts on it that suggested the use of strings. We didn’t want to make a record that was full of synths and sounded like everything else out there. We recorded the songs and sent them to Ollie – and that’s what came back. The saxes and woodwinds were done in a similar way by Stuart Bogie. They are very good friends of ours, so we gave them free rein. Everything that we got back sounded killer, so we left it on there.
Q. Apparently, you gave wide powers to your producer Sam Farrar to get a specific sound and you wanted someone holding the reins to make sure that the focus was maintained . . .
A. You end up doing a lot of different things when you’re composing an album the way we do, so it’s good to have someone holding the umbrella and pointing it in different directions, making sure that you’re not going too far out there, or too far in there, I guess. All we’ve ever really tried to do is serve the purpose of the song, whatever means that may take.
Q. Another aspect of your work process is the ‘‘ quota system’’ for writing songs. Did this speed up production of the album?
A. I think so, we kind of figured out that if we get 50 songs and 10 of them are going to be good we need a certain number a week to meet the deadline. We all wanted to be working and we’d never been in a situation where we were all at home, so we wanted to make sure that everybody got a couple of things uploaded every week. We also wanted to make sure that
we met this target because we wanted to be out on the road by a certain time.
Q. Tom Gray stated that the band ‘‘ might have been a little trapped by our own muso-ness’’ and that the new album ‘‘ doesn’t feel at all stuffy’’. The new album sounds relaxed and straightforward, the lyrics direct and uncomplicated. It appears that the band made a very conscious decision to drive the music and lyrics in this direction; what factors influenced this?
A. A lot of the time when we play, the songs that are intricate and complicated and a little standoffish don’t stay in our set-list for very long. The song that has longevity is the song that stays in your set-list. To us, that’s the gauge for whether a song translates well to other people. The songs that are the mainstays in our set are the basic, rock ’ n’ roll, straightforward ones. The intricate production on some of our songs couldn’t be reproduced on stage.
Q. The band has a small-combo sound for venues like The Gov, where you’ll be playing in August. Will that change to reflect the big sound on the album?
A. We strip back our songs in such a way to ensure that we can blast them through 500 people. We’ve just finished our UK tour, and got the album easily playable by five men, which was quite a wonderful experience.