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Gomez - Latitude Interview

12 July 2006

It's a fickle world - win the Mercury Music Prize... a few years later you're dropped. Gomez have been through it all, but they've since found solice in an adoring American audience.

Vf caught up with Gomez drummer, Olly Peacock, the man with possibly the biggest drum kit in the world, ahead of the band's English festival return at Latitude this weekend...  

Virtual Festivals: What are you most looking forward to about Latitude?
Olly Peacock: "Well, asides from playing, I'm just hoping it'll be a beautiful day and a great festival. It sounds like quite a mellow one which suits me fine. The capacity is a bit smaller than usual and on the day we’re playing there’s a real alternative bill of bands. I’m really looking forward to seeing I Am Kloot and Mojave 3 because they’re good friends of us. We’d also like to get into some of the theatre and poetry and that kind of stuff but we’re on a really tight schedule so we’ll have to see how much time we’re afforded. The comedy looks really cool as well."

VF: Do you think it's possible to have a chilled festival with bands like Mogwai and The Zutons - and yourselves of course?
OP: "I think you can yes. There are a lot of people that go to things like the Big Chill or go with their kids. A lot of people aren’t as bothered by the music and are more into just hanging out with their friends, so I don’t see why not at all, especially on a small scale. It’s not like 80,000 turning up and listening to rock music all weekend."

VF: What's your favourite festival at the moment?
OP: "I like a lot of the American ones at the moment. They’ve always been renowned for not being as well organised as the ones over here but they seem to be sorting it out now. The best one I’ve been to recently is Bonnaroo, which is set on farmland in Tennessee. They programme it really well so that everyone can see the headliners and there’s no clash between the big bands. There’re other stages but not as much stuff on, so you get the chance to see everybody, whereas some of the English festivals become a nightmare in terms of rushing around to see your favourite bands."  

VF: We hear it's going very well for you guys over in the States. How's that come to be?
OP: "It’s actually been building up for a while. We started touring out there a couple of years ago and it went down really well. I think we’re one of the few bands that can do that, y’know, go out and tour on our own there, so yeah it’s good. We’ve got an American label supporting us a lot more than others have it the past and things are brewing up. There’s a lot more attention on us in terms of radio and TV. For us it’s an opportunity to go back to a place where we’re appreciated. Sometimes that's been lacking here."

VF: You were touring the US while the World Cup was on. Is the sports commentary as bad as people make out?
OP: "Yeah, absolutely, it was so piss poor that we resorted to watching it on Spanish channels instead! The presenters there don’t have a clue. They try to do the typical American thing where they present loads of statistics and graphics on every element of the game. But no one gives a fuck about how many times someone’s tackled someone else! So yeah they were talking out their arses and then they’d have ex-American players who were trying to give their own point of view, which was just useless. It ended up better watching it in a foreign language. At least the Spanish commentators went nuts for ages after every goal."

VF: You flew back from the States almost straight into the maelstrom of T In The Park and Oxegen. Much of a contrast?
OP: "A bit yeah, but it was great playing in those two humungous tents. I think we sometimes forget how amazing festival crowds are back here; they’re absolutely insane. The Irish particularly were really good and I think the Scottish were one of the loudest I’d ever heard. They went properly mental when we got on stage and again when we went off, so we must have been doing something right."

VF: Some people have said T In The Park is the best crowd in the world. Would you agree?
OP: "Certainly this time I’d say that. The Aussies are on the same level too though. I think they have similarities in that they’re really into the music but also they are there to just have a really, really good time. English and American audiences can be a bit more subdued."

VF: You've got a new album out. How's the new material being received live?
OP: Really, really well. We’ve been mainly playing it in the States. I think the album came out there about a month beforehand so they’re more familiar with the tunes. It’s great when you see them getting into it and singing along, you know. And then, the other weekend at the festivals, it was great to see people getting into it even though they might not have heard any of the new songs. It’s the only time that you get to see any approval or disapproval of what you’ve been recording. You don’t get to see people at home saying ‘this is good’ or ‘this is shit’. So it was a good feeling to get that thumbs up."

VF: How would you describe the new album?
OP: "For the most part it’s a very band sounding record. It’s lost a lot of the bells and whistles and concentrates a lot more on the actual songs. It’s very melodic and skips between styles and genres. There’s a bit of a country sound to it."

VF: And what records have you been listening to that may have shaped it?
OP: "Probably a lot of stuff that is very against that description to be honest. Sometimes you listen to a whole bunch of music that doesn’t relate at all to what you’re putting out and I think this record reflects that. We’ve been listening to a lot of Wilco, a lot of Noy, a bit of Can, and then more recently a lot of American artists. It perhaps all filters through but we’ve got quite mixed tastes so there’s nothing I’d really say has had a direct bearing on this record. It’s maybe got some Faces influences, it’s very stripped down. It’s nice and mellow, a bit all over the place."

VF: As well as Latitude you're also headlining Beautiful Days? Looking forward to that one?
OP: "Yes definitely. Technically it’s our first headlining set so, yeah, we’re very excited. We did a couple of UK festival dates a couple of years ago, including Glastonbury, but we haven’t really done anything since then so we’re really excited about getting stuck into festivals again."

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