Andrew Popescu speaks to Ian Ball about the lat­est Gomez al­bum and the UK band’s up­com­ing Aus­tralian tour.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music -

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.

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