Tom Grennan, the humble, softly spoken singer-songwriter from Bedford, has exploded on the scene over the last 18 months, with his own unique songwriting and performing style. Inspired by soul, blues, grime and indie, Tom’s work has shown real depth right from the start: his storytelling through music knows no bounds. By introducing other techniques in production, he is finally creating the big sounds worthy of his lyrics. His music has been described as ‘a bluesy, soulful tone balanced with an original indie flair’ and has certainly proved to be a hit with his fans up and down the country during his recent tour to promote his new album ‘Lighting Matches’ when it is finally released in July, with another tour on the cards later on in the year. While his lyrics often address difficult issues, his performance conveys real soul and beauty while the emotion and pain crackles through his vocals.
Hi Tom, how does it feel like being back in Sheffield?
I’m a big big fan of Sheffield – I love it. It’s the home of The Arctic Monkeys, home of Reverend and the Makers and it’s like home – everyone from Sheffield’s just nice. The’re good people, cool man. They’re cool cats.
What’s it like playing here? Particularly in such an iconic venue?
Yeah I can’t wait man. I’ve never played The Leadmill so I’m looking forward to seeing what the crowd’s like.
Tell us about how the tour is going so far – what do you like about touring?
The tour’s been wicked – every city’s been showing me love, every show’s been going off. It’s wicked. What do I like about touring? I like being on the road, meeting fans and seeing parts of the country that thought I’d never be able to see so it’s all good.
What is your song writing process? You have the reputation of a ‘soulful sensitive songwriter’ – so which themes do you write about?
It depends. It depends on how I’m feeling, what I’ve seen, what I’m thinking about, all that kind of stuff. I don’t really tend to pick a theme I just get up and see what the day’s saying. If I’m in a writing mood then I’ll write about it.
Do you have any influences that you draw from?
Alex Turner is an influence, Amy Winehouse is an influence, Adele is an influence, Ray Charles is an influence. Robert Johnson is an influence.
I know you’ve struggled growing up with the process of writing. Having dyslexia is all about finding different ways to express yourself – which methods worked for you growing up and how does that inform how you write today?
For me, I do things a certain way. When I was at school I kind of just made my own way of coping with it. So I’d have an imaginary washing line which had different words on it and I’d like make the odd socks become a pearly white pair of socks again and again until I made all my words relate and make sense. Whether or not my words always do relate or make sense I don’t know. But for me they do so that’s sweet.
That’s a really visual way of working …
Yeah. It’s just how I make my words relate. Just saying I never really listened to audio books though, I can’t, they do my head in. I listened to a lot of music instead.
Your debut album Lighting Matches is being released in July and promises great things – what can we expect? How is production going right now?
July 6th – the album’s finished it’s been done since last year. It was meant to come out in March – didn’t – then it was supposed to come out in May – didn’t- but now we think the time’s right for July. Production on it is just wicked. It’s a big landscape of music so expect orchestras, expect brass, expect choirs, expect big vocals, expect big songs.
And how did you make those decisions about introducing orchestration?
I wanted to make a classic record. And for me, a classic record is that whole landscape of sounds and instruments. I wanted it to be dramatic.
Who helped you with that layering then?
Loads of different producers helped me: a guy called Fraser T Smith, a guy called Jimmy Hogarth, a guy called Ed White, a guy called Paddy Burns, lots of people. It’s been wicked.
The Guardian described ‘Aboard’ as the stand out track on the album with its ‘earworm chorus that oozes raw emotion’ – what would you say is your stand out track?
Aboard is the stand out track for me. Wow. I didn’t know they said that so that’s nice.
There was collaboration with Bugzy Malone on a recent single – how did that come about?
The Bugsy Malone thing isn’t on my album but it came out as a single. I’m a massive grime fan and to be in that world and to see how he works was amazing. We met each other on Jools Holland and then we became friends.
Sober is your latest single and was played on Radio 1 as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World!’ What has been the response from the public?
It’s been amazing, from being on tour and seeing how that song has connected with people that has been wicked. It’s been cool.
I now have a question from a huge fan of yours:
He writes: I’d like to ask you about Old Songs – something personal happened to me and I ended up going to Thailand for two months as a result. That song really related to me because of happening to me at that time. I just wonder what the song was about? Was it about a man who has an affair, turns to alcohol and then loses everything? I played that song religiously. Every day. It got me through a tough time.
Yeah – well her name wasn’t actually Tina but I put the name as it on the track. The piece was about destruction and relationships – destruction yeah. Yeah exactly that man. Oh man – that means a lot. If it helped him out I’m glad, man.
And finally, tell us about your tattoos – are any of them music related?
Oh yes one. I do actually – I’ve got ‘Lighting Matches’ the name of my album, on my forearm.
It was really good of you to meet with us.
Nice one – thank you mate.
“Lighting Matches” is the debut album from Tom Grennan, includes Something In The Water, Praying, Found What I’ve Been Looking For, Royal Highness and Sober release on July 6th 2018. Tom has also just announced his October tour. Pre-order the new album #LightingMatches from www.tomgrennanmusic.com to get first access on tickets.
FOLLOW TOM GRENNAN AT:
PHOTOGRAPHY: MODEL D PHOTOGRAPHY