Paul Blackburn, Ben Ottewell, Olly Peackock, Ian Ball and Tom Gray from Gomez.
Paul Blackburn, Ben Ottewell, Olly Peackock, Ian Ball and Tom Gray from Gomez.

Gomez get the band back together

AFTER going their separate ways at the end of the touring cycle for their seventh album Whatever's on Your Mind in 2012, the members of bluesy English indie-rock band Gomez are getting the band back together, and their first stop is Australia.

In addition to playing their first shows in more than five years, 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of the band's debut album, the multi-award-winning Bring It On, and guitarist and vocalist Ben Ottewell, who was last in the country for an extensive solo tour in mid-2017, can't wait to get back on stage with his four bandmates.

"It's going to be great; I'm really excited about it," Ottewell says. "I don't have to carry my own guitars anymore - I'll have someone else to look after it."

Since forming in 1996, Gomez have always been an ensemble, and the line-up remains unchanged. In addition to Ottewell, the band comprises singer and guitarist Ian Ball, singer, guitarist and keyboardist Tom Gray, bassist Paul "Blackie" Blackburn and drummer and synth player Olly Peacock.

"Just playing with the band with all that power behind you, it's going to be great, I don't have to think as much as when I'm playing solo, which is always a good thing," Ottewell says. "For all of us, this break has gained a little perspective on it, just how much (Bring It On) meant to everybody at the time, especially in this country and Australia, as well.

As part of their forthcoming tour, Gomez will be playing two sets at Bluesfest at Byron Bay over the Easter long weekend, where they will be playing Bring It On in its entirety. Ottewell has been familiarising himself with the album and says it is slightly surreal reacquainting with songs he wrote more than two decades ago.

"It's interesting, it's almost like looking at pictures of yourself when you were 16, you're kind of like 'oh, I'm nice and slim, but goddammit, look at that hair'. So it's slightly weird, but it's interesting; we were pretty good, actually, for 21-year-olds."

Ben Ottewell, Olly Peacock, Paul 'Blackie' Blackburn, Tom Gray and Ian Ball are looking forward to playing Bluesfest after returning from hiatus.
Ben Ottewell, Olly Peacock, Paul 'Blackie' Blackburn, Tom Gray and Ian Ball are looking forward to playing Bluesfest after returning from hiatus.

That might sound like an immodest boast but Ottewell is underselling the band's achievements. Bring It On won the British Phonographic Industry's Mercury Music Prize in 1998, beating the likes of The Verve's Urban Hymns, Massive Attack's Mezzanine and Pulp's This is Hardcore, and received further plaudits from NME and Q Magazine.

Still, the 41-year-old says some of the lyrics to some of the tracks were written with a youthful naivety that makes them more difficult to sing with sincerity. Fan favourite Tijuana Lady, which is sung by Ottewell, is one such song.

"We didn't play it for something like 10 years. The thing is it's hard to sing the line 'I'll keep you warm with my silky poncho' with any conviction, so it was actually me that was holding that back.

"But then you realise people love that song, and if you're going to write that you've got to be able to sing it and own it and mean it. So I've got to the stage where I will keep people warm in my silky poncho; it's going to happen," he says.

Gomez, Bluesfest, Byron Bay, Thursday March 29 and Friday March 30, tickets from $179, bluesfest.com.au


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