Interview Exclusive: Tom Grennan

Tom Grennan

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Elena Katrina

If you have ever visited Swansea train station or watched the classic 90’s film Twin Town, you will know that ambition is critical. If you ever speak with Tom Grennan you will find that ambition is not just critical but also infectious. After ten minutes in his company, I was enthralled by him, and completely believing in him. Do not think though that you are going to find an egotist full of self-importance, Tom Grennan is, what my dad would call, a proper nice lad. It is just that he is a proper nice lad who understands how good he is as a singer, songwriter, and performer.

 

As soundcheck finished and we sat down at the back of Leaf Tea Shop’s upstairs room, the first thing Tom Grennan did was apologise for his voice as he had been sick for the last few days. It was a ridiculous moment because 30 seconds earlier I had been talking with Elena about how great and natural Tom’s voice was sounding on stage. Apparently though the night before in Newcastle he had been really suffering with not just a singer’s sore throat but with a proper bug that made his entire body hurt. “The tour has been going alright you know, but I’ve been ill for the last three or four days, so I’m worried that my voice isn’t going to be right tonight”. At this point, I pushed my iPhone closer and my seat a little built further back. You can never be too careful after all.

 

This gig at Leaf was to be the smallest venue of the tour, which actually brought out some excitement in our interviewee. With his next tour already lined up, it was obvious from the venues on the listing that this was going to be the last time in a long while that Tom was going to play somewhere that would allow you to see the faces of the people furthest from the stage.

 

“I am so excited about this. There is nowhere else on the tour that we are playing like this. It’s a cool room and it is going to feel intimate, and I am going to try to take the crowd somewhere. And I am going to make the most of it too. With our plans for the next tour and our ambitions for the album, this might be the last time that I get to play somewhere like this where I can see people at the back of the room”.

 

When talking about the future tour, it gave Tom the chance to get on to a subject that lifted him out of his seat and made him seem about ten foot tall. His forthcoming album – due for release March 9th 2018. A consummate professional, I have never before heard anybody get in so many references as to when a release was coming without it sounding like their manager speaking through them. I’d be shocked if anybody left the gig without knowing that the album was coming out on March 9th. He seems so excited about the album, not just because of the fact he is releasing an album, but he is so convinced of the quality and grandeur that is going to be its DNA.

 

“I’m buzzing for it, I mean it man. I’m certain I’m sitting on a good album. And I know I am biased, but I think nobody has an album like it out there. If people like epicness, choirs, gospel music, orchestras, brass, and a raspy vocal then they are going to love it. And I’m going to be winning. It is ambitious, but you’ve got to be ambitious in life to win. Otherwise what’s the point?

I have always had this thought of them being these big numbers even when I was writing them, but thanks to the backing of my label we’ve been able to go for it, man. It’s not just about being big though, the extras we have put into the record give the songs the love that I think they deserve. We made the decision together as a team that we would go the extra mile and put it out like this. I didn’t think they would come out as good as they have done though.

We were getting pretty excited about the album last night in the Travelodge. Just thinking about the day it gets released, and what it is going to be like getting the phone calls to tell you the sales levels. I’ve got it in my head that the album is going to go number one, and every time I close my eyes that’s what I think of”.

 

It is a bit of a cliché to say that a musician treats their songs like a child, but that is the overriding image as he talks about giving the tracks an extra bit of love. The orchestration, choirs, and brass musicians are treats like a parent would give their first born to make them feel even more special.

 

Because our interviewer is a bit of a nerd, I did turn up with a few bits of trivia about Tom Grennan that I had found out in my research. Firstly, All Goes Wrong, the track he did with Chase and Status, reached number three in Belgium, “not enough to get a disk for sales, though maybe I need to do a tour there”. Secondly, if you add the Spotify streams of Tom’s five most popular tracks at present, it makes over 13 million listens – which if you base it on three and a quarter minutes per track it means that over 82 years have been spent listening to Tom Grennan, “really? Wow! That’s just amazing. I can’t wait to tell Danny that once the interview is done. Eighty two years man…. Hopefully people will still be listening to my music in eighty two years too”.

 

It is so refreshing to speak to a musician who is not trying to be polite, modest and oh so dreadfully unassuming, and I told Tom just that. “I believe that if you want to get people behind you, then you have got to speak about these things. You have got to put it out there. And the ones who don’t say it, nah man, they’re thinking the same, but they are just keeping it in their heads. I’m just willing to say it”.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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