INTERVIEW: Tom Grennan

To most people Tom Grennan is going to seem like an overnight success with his chart topping hits ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ and his Calvin Harris collaboration ‘By Your Side’ currently getting the worldwide domination treatment. But the talented British singer-songwriter has been on a journey of artistic exploration since 2016 with his debut single ‘Something In The Water’, and his eventual debut album ‘Lighting Matches’ in 2018. Capturing a raw vulnerability in his songwriting, contrasted with emotional melodies, he’s welcomed listeners into this very candid and introspective soundscape of emotions. 

His sophomore record ‘Evering Road’ highlights a huge maturity and growth in his artistry as he articulates this beautifully raw refection on a relationship and heartbreak that left him realising he needed to love himself again before he could love anyone else. From that emotional unravelling, it spawned his biggest hit to date, and has introduced him to a global audience. Re-releasing the record with 5 new tracks, he further explores that narrative and gives a fresh perspective to where he is currently at in his life. 

I recently chatted to Tom Grennan about the emotional heaviness behind his new single ‘Don’t Break The Heart’, reflected on the emotional memories behind ‘Evering Road’ that inspired his sophomore record, and discussed live shows ahead of his debut Australian tour next year. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: You’ve just released the special edition of ‘Evering Road’ which includes 5 brand new songs as well as your smash hit collaboration with Calvin Harris ‘By Your Side’. So what do you think these new songs specifically add to the storyline and soundscape behind the original record? 

TOM GRENNAN: I wanted these new songs to be on the record because I no longer wanted them to live in my email and collect dust. I really believed that these songs deserved to be heard. Do they make sense in the whole thematic sense of the record? I dunno, man. But I just really wanted these songs to be heard. I was just like “I think we should release 5 new tracks”, and that’s what we did. 

I wrote the new single ‘Don’t Break The Heart’ a year and a half after finishing ‘Evering Road’. But the title and some of the lyrics perfectly fitted into the storyline of what ‘Evering Road’ is about even though the song is not about a love relationship, or one that I even personally had. It’s actually about my friend’s mum who recently passed away, and he sat down and spoke to me about it and I was like; “imagine the last moment you have with someone and you say please don’t leave me because I’m not ready for you to leave me”. Unfortunately that is the circle of life and nobody has the power to put a stop on what mother nature is going to do. So the song is about that, but you really can relate “don’t break the heart” into any relationship with someone leaving. It does feel quite universal. 

TB: Well heartbreak and losing someone are two different sides of grief and they do come together really beautifully, and I think ‘Don’t Break The Heart’ captures that quite vulnerably. Can you explain how this track creatively came together? 

TG: It’s a song that really came together by chance. We were writing for the whole day and then my friend called so I went and took the call and came back to the room and said that I would really like to put the conversation I just had into a song. The conversation made me feel all of those feelings quite physically. I couldn’t comprehend what it’s like to lose someone, but I felt like I had this thing on my chest that I needed to talk about. 

We had just come out of lockdown and I didn’t want to make a tune that made people depressed, so I wanted to contrast it and make it an upbeat pop banger. Even though it is about what it’s about, I hope people feel as uplifted by it as I did when I heard it back for the first time. 

TB: “Don’t break the heart that’s loving you” is a lyric that haunted me the first time I heard it. So where does that lyric now take you to mentally and physically when you hear it back?

TG: I think it takes me to being with somebody and saying “I’m not ready to let you go. I don’t want to let you go”. Unfortunately I am not a fucking king or a god. I’m just a normal person like everybody else who doesn’t have a say when things are going to end. But these are things we wish we knew so we didn’t have to say goodbye sometimes. 

TB: Looking at your record ‘Evering Record’, ‘If Only’ and ‘Something Better’ specifically have these really strong gospel melodies and elements that shine through so boldly. Did you actually record these two songs with a choir? Or did you just layer vocals and take inspiration from somewhere? 

TG: So we actually had about 4 or 5 choir singers layered on the track with my vocals and backing vocals to create those melodies. I love gospel music, so I definitely wanted to put that element into the record. 

TB: Have you thought about how you are to replicate those melodies live on tour?

TG: I have two sick backing vocalists called Angel and Petra. After I do this interview I’m actually going to our first rehearsal for the tour, so after today I will actually know what we are going to do with it as we haven’t had any full band rehearsals yet. 

TB: ‘This Is The Place’ has one of my favourite overall productions on the record. How long did that song take to sonically find its feet? 

TG: Not long! I worked with some wicked people who know pop music really well. We made the song sound cool. I’ve never had a production that sounds like it before, so it took a minute to experiment with, but it didn’t take long. 

TB: The album is named after the East London address you lived at with your ex-girlfriend which became a key centrepiece of the love, heartbreak and growth in this journey. So when you picture yourself walking down that road again, what is one visual that stands out to you from that road that isn’t specifically the place you lived?

TG: Probably like leaving the house and sitting at the end of the road after having an argument and thinking “fuck, I need to change something”, whether that’s me or the relationship I was in. I had to realise that I wasn’t happy and I didn’t love myself at that time. I couldn’t love anybody else before loving me. So I think that’s a visual that stands out to me when I look back. Thankfully I changed it up because I’m a happier man now, and have found someone who is unbelievable. 

TB: ‘Little Bit Of Love’ is a song that has had a complete life of its own and has chauffeured in this new chapter of your career. Where is one of the weirdest or funniest places you’ve heard the song playing? 

TG: In England we have these places called “The Peaks” which are like a mountain, but not really. So I was up this “peak” that was in the middle of nowhere with my girlfriend, and we were walking through the woods and this guy was just playing the song out of his phone. I was like “Yo dude, that is my tune!” and he’s like “no it isn’t” and I was like “yeah, it is”. He then was like “you’re not Tom Grennan’ and I was like “yeah, I am”. He didn’t believe me and just left *laughs*. 

TB: You are currently preparing to kick off your UK tour in Sheffield next week before bringing it down under to Australia in June next year. What song from the album are you most nervous to bring into a live perspective? 

TG: I don’t think I’m nervous as such, but I’m really excited to hear ‘If Only’ from a live perspective. It’s going to be good! 

TB: You’ve never been to Australia before, so what is on the bucket list that we need to make sure you get to do while you’re here?

TG: I wanna go surfing as I’ve never been surfing before. I also just wanted to experience Australia and go everywhere, and do the whole thing!

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about your album ‘Evering Road’. You ready?

TG: I’m down man, let’s do it!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new album ‘Evering Road’ is…

TG: The hands up!

TB: The song that nearly didn’t make the album was…

TG: ‘Second Time’.

TB: The song that nearly makes me cry listening back to it is…

TG: ‘Love Has Different Ways To Say Goodbye’, for sure!

TB: The song that took the longest to hone its sound was…

TG: Probably ‘Sweeter Than’. 

‘Evering Road (Deluxe Edition)’ is out now!

Tom Grennan 2022 Australian Tour 

Wednesday 8 June – The Triffid, Brisbane

Thursday 9 June – 170 Russell, Melbourne 

Friday 10 June – Factory Theatre, Sydney 

For all ticketing details visit Secret Sounds HERE