I sat down with Tom Grennan just before his sold-out show in Southampton at the Guildhall as part of his Lighting Matches tour. The mood was ridiculously chilled backstage, with Tom and his bandmates devouring what they described as “shit hummus”. After Tom had taken my ring from my finger and questioned me about it, we discussed his last 12 months, FIFA 18, streaming services and Guinness World Records.
So, 2018 has been an absolute whirlwind by the sounds of it, how has it been for you?
Exactly what you said mate. It’s been busy, I always say this but I haven’t actually been able to take it all in. It’s been like a dream innit. But I’m enjoying every single minute of it.
You got a lot of widespread attention from the new album right from the get-go- were you expecting this attention?
I wasn’t expecting it but I definitely knew it was a good album. I definitely knew that the album was good enough so yeah.
When it comes to writing new material, do you inscribe your own feelings and experiences or take influence from elsewhere?
Hmm bit of both.
How long would you say you spent writing material for Lighting Matches?
I don’t know, I didn’t write for Lighting Matches, I just wrote. There’s songs on there I wrote 2 years ago and there’s also songs on there that I wrote a few months before the album was released. I didn’t just go into a room for 2 weeks. I just wrote for over a year and a half about 200 songs and picked the best ones out of that.
Most publications would consider you an indie-rock star or indie-pop star- would agree with it?
I absolutely hate that word, hate it. I’m a singer innit.
Is that the kind of music you are into?
Indie? Don’t get me wrong mate I fucking love indie, but I don’t wanna be associated with geezers in skinny jeans (turns to bandmate and apologises as he is wearing skinny jeans). What I’m saying is, indie just reminds me of Camden but if you said like guitar music then definitely that is my music, do you get me?
For some people, Chase & Status’ track ‘All Goes Wrong’ was the song that made them discover you. Did you find that this song had a big impact on your popularity? Did it have significance on where you are today?
They definitely helped. They fucking took a risk on me and I don’t think I’d be here without that.
Considering all of your current releases, what song has the most emotional meaning to you?
Probably ‘Little By Little Love’. That’s why I love it so much.
You’ve had a bit of experience playing new material now, so what’s your favourite song to perform live from the new album?
Still would be ‘Little By Little Love’.
What was it like working with Fraser T Smith and Eg White on this album?
Yes, Fraser T Smith was unbelievable for me and Eg White is just amazing. They’re like music royalty ain’t they?
Music first or lyrics first?
Both at the same time to be fair.
So ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ featured on FIFA 18. How did that come about and how crazy was it?
I dunno. Just got told it was on fucking FIFA!
Is it still mad hearing your songs played on the radio or TV or FIFA?
Yeah of course. Its always been mad and I think it always will feel that way.
What music inspired you whilst growing up and inspired you to become a musician?
Alex Turner, he’s up there.
Would you say he’s your biggest influencer?
Nah. I don’t know, I love loads of different people so I don’t know, not just him.
If you could go on tour with any artist or band, who would you go on tour with?
Arctic Monkeys I reckon, that would be fucking sick.
20 months ago you played down the road in 200 capacity venue The Joiners. Now you’re here in the nearly 2000 capacity Guildhall, how does it feel?
Umm, it’s fucking amazing to be fair.
And where would you see yourself in 5 years time?
Wembley Stadium fucking having it, with you (points to me).
You recently broke a world record for most gigs in 12 hours, how was it?
Long. It was so tough and England lost to Croatia that day so it was just, yeah…
What was the motive behind it?
Something fun to do ain’t it.
If you could claim the rights to any song already written and released what song would you claim as your own?
The most biggest selling song ever, ‘cos then I’d have loads and loads of money (laughs).
In your opinion, what is the state of British music right now? Is it in a good place?
I think bands definitely need to change something. There’s a lot of good bands out there that aren’t getting enough recognition and a lot of fucking shit is getting recognition and it all sounds the same and it’s dead. How do I think British music is? I think British music is always going to be up there with the best music going isn’t it? But right now, there’s a lot of shit going about. But that’s because of fucking streaming and all of that shit. Streaming can bring a lot of shit with it ‘cos anybody can put shit on there.
Any artists we should keep an eye on this year?
Watch Tom Grennan’s favourite song ‘Little By Little Love’ performed acoustically below.