Upstairs in the bar at the Shipping Forecast, I was delighted to be sitting down with Tom Grennan. Being a BBC Music Sound of 2017 longlister, and preceding what would be the last show on his first headline UK tour, this was an exciting time to interview him. Sporting a full, bright red, addidas tracksuit, he had just finished his sound check before joining me. All of the shows on Grennan’s tour had completely sold out, something which he had not expected; “No, not at all, I’ve only released an EP and then obviously the Chase & Status thing, and then one new track called ‘Praying’, but it’s mad”.
It was the eve of pancake day so, amusingly, one of the first things that we discussed was his disappointment of missing out this year because of the demands of tour life. He’d wished that he’d asked his girlfriend to send some pancakes to him – in which case, he was clear that he would have opted for the classic lemon and sugar combo. Joking aside, our conversation then moved onto how Grennan started his music career, about which he said “I was just drunk at a party and started singing; and a couple friends came up and asked me to join a band. So I joined this band and it all went from there really. Then I went to university and just tried to learn my craft there. In fact, I’m still learning my craft, do you know what I mean”.
Next, I felt that I couldn’t ignore asking Grennan about his collaboration with Chase & Status, the song that thrust him into the limelight for many people, including myself. Speaking on how it all came about. he said: “they made the call for me and asked if I could come and write, and have a session with them. I had the backbone of All goes wrong’, so I brought it into them and they loved it. Then we built the song together, it just happened really naturally”.
Grennan revealed that he’s also just finished doing a collaboration with Bugzy Malone, an upcoming rapper from Manchester. However, for the moment at least, he intends to focus on his own music, and rightly so! His new EP, Release The Brakes, has just been released and he described it as “a step up from Something in The Water EP”, with a lot more production elements to it. On this EP is a song called This is The Edge, which is about Grennan’s father and he added that “when you hear it, there’s a little snippet of my dad in it”.
Tom is also currently in the process of writing his debut album, which he hopes will be recorded by May. In our discussion about this highly anticipated new piece, it was clear that Grennan wants the album to follow on from previous material and keep with the same blues/soul vibes.
“I want to sell out Wembley Stadium… I just want to be making music that people relate to and people connect to.”
Tom Grennan’s talent really came to the fore when I asked him about his cover of London Grammar’s Strong and why he chose to cover it. He simply replied that he didn’t know he was supposed to do a cover, so just picked a song that he was listening to that day. If you’re familiar with London Grammar’s music, then you will know that ‘Strong’ is a difficult song to sing, and not many can match Hannah Reid’s vocals. However, without much practice, Grennan did just that.
Grennan then turned to explaining another one of his all-time influences, the late and great Amy Winehouse, with Back to Black being his favourite Winehouse track. Other favourite artists of Grennan include Frank Ocean, Kayne West, Skepta and Stormzy. Grennan dreams of reaching the heights of these kinds of artists: “I went to Reading and Leeds when I was younger, and I said ‘I want to do that’! To be on the stage there is gonna be mad, it’s going to be very emotional I think – it’s gonna be sick though”.
This was a fascinating interview with a super-talented singer. He is ambitious but clearly also keeps his feet on the ground and remains humble. I closed the interview by asking what he wants to have achieved in five years’ time. His reply was: “I want to sell out Wembley Stadium […] I just want to be making music that people relate to and people connect to, and selling out big shows”.
Grennan’s new EP ‘Release the Brakes’s is out now, you can listen and download via Apple Music and Spotify.