BIG things were predicted for Gomez when their debut album ‘Bring It On’ beat The Verve and Massive Attack to win the Mercury Music Prize in 1998, yet they seemed to disappear from the public eye as quickly as they had shot into it.
For anyone wondering “where are they now?” the short and slightly generalised answer is America – where they’ve done bloody well for themselves.
Their last album went to number one in the US Heatseeker charts and it will be a major surprise if their next effort doesn’t break the top 100 Billboard chart.
Now they’re back with a brand new sound but, bizarrely, also back where they started with a ‘Bring It On’ 10th anniversary tour.
Vocalist, guitarist and co-songwriter Ian Ball talks to Richard Gadsby about reliving the past, looking to the future and headless armadillos …
AS interviews go, it’s probably the most bizarre introduction we’ve ever heard.
“Hi, it’s Ian. His head’s come off! They’ll be crying now. It’s my kid. He loves that armadillo. You know what we’ll do? Gaffer tape. That’s the best thing for it. Gaffer tape it back on. Actually, he’ll probably just get bored of it now. He’ll forget he had it in ten minutes. I’d love one of them butterscotch cookies.”
Welcome to the world of rock star/new dad Ian Ball, one of the chief creative forces behind Bluesy experimentalists Gomez, who is currently trying to juggle the joys of fatherhood, his wife’s baking and band promotion duties all at the same time.
BBM phones him at his home in Los Angeles as he prepares for Christmas and the band’s upcoming tour of Australia.
“I’ve only spoken to English people over there today,” he reveals. “We’re recolonising Australia. So where are you from then? Derby? That’s where big Ben’s from.”
I explain that Ben Ottewell, the gravelly voiced Gomez singer/ guitarist, lives in one of the posher areas of Derbyshire while I was raised ten minutes down the road in a shithole called Ripley, best known for a giant masturbating snowman that formed part of the Christmas decorations a few years ago.
“Sounds about right for Ben,” laughs Ian and the interview begins.
What can we expect from the new album ‘New Tide’?
I’m really excited by it. It’s the first time we’ve completed an album and I’ve kept listening to it for weeks afterwards. With the last album, we wanted to capture the energy of our live shows. With this one, we’ve gone the other way. We figured it was about time we delved into programming and all this computer business. Every sound you hear on the album has been produced. It’s all gone through a computer.
There’s the headline. Gomez go Nu Rave.
Haha! It’s kind of European influenced. Have you heard that German band The Notwist? That’s the closest thing I can think of.
Weren’t you tempted just to do another version of (last album) ‘How We Operate’ after the success it had in America?
It would have been easier but we like to keep things interesting, we’re always looking to progress and programming was our way of doing that with this album. We always try to do something different, you can always learn.
There’s been two weddings and four kids in the band in the last 18 months. Does that come across on ‘New Tide’?
It doesn’t come through in the songs one bit! There’s no love songs, no lullabies, nothing like that. I’m not sure why.
You’re probably right. It was great just to head to Chicago and make music again like we always have. And the food in Chicago is great as well which, obviously, is very important.
What would be your ideal Christmas present this year?
All I want is a few more hours in the day – just to sleep. That’s the big thing. I just want sleep. I need sleep. I’d give anything just to have that. That or $4000 million.
If you had $4000 million you could probably buy a few extra hours. Just hire Stephen Hawking to build a time machine.
That would be perfect! All I need now is the $4000 million.
You’ve been celebrating the anniversary of ‘Bring It On’ by touring it again. Was it weird playing the old songs?
It was really weird. Really surreal. That album just seems to take people back to a certain time and we weren’t prepared for the reaction. We didn’t know what to expect at the gigs – whether they’d dance or just listen or what, but people just talked. They just stood there and talked about their memories. I’d meet them after the shows and they’d tell me what the album meant to them at the time. It was really bizarre hearing how you’d touched so many lives.
‘Bring It On’ reminds me of Glastonbury 1999, going over the wall for the last time, Tijuana Lady playing while the sun sets.
That’s exactly the sort of thing we were hearing. People got together to that album, they’d play songs from it at their wedding. It’s incredible to find out about these things ten years later. It really felt like high school reunion time.
Do you think you’ll still be going in another ten years?
I don’t think my body could take another ten years. No really. I honestly think it would kill me!