Last week I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Tom Grennan, a Bedford-born singer songwriter who was thrust into the spotlight after featuring on the Chase and Status song ‘All Goes Wrong’. Despite being a little tired from a photoshoot earlier that day and a gig he’d played the night before, he was instantly friendly and charming, asking if he could call me Mads and telling me that getting to talk to me had brightened up his day. Aware of his busy schedule, I jumped in with my questions.
How did you end up collaborating with Chase & Status?
I’d just signed a publishing deal, and my publisher showed them one of my songs and they just said, “we want to work with him”. I had the backbone of the song already written, though it wasn’t called that at the time. So I brought it to them, and after messing around with it we created something that became ‘All Goes Wrong’. It was mad, I was a fan – I still am – and I thought I’d be a bit nervous but it was fine.
You went on tour with Chase & Status last year – what’s it like performing with them?
It was great, though it was hard to get my head around it at first. Drum and bass is really fast and I’d never done anything like that before. I got thrown in at the deep end, big time. But if you get thrown in at the deep end you’ve got to swim, or you’ll drown. So I swam, put a backstroke in and got out the other side.
Do you have a best live moment from the tour?
My best live moment is probably doing Wireless, my first ever gig with them. It was my first big gig in front of a huge crowd and no one knew me – no one really knows about me now but no one knew who the hell I was then.
After being the supporting artist, how does it feel to be playing solo at big festivals like Reading and Leeds?
Amazing. I never thought this would happen. I went to Reading in 2013, when Eminem played, and he’s playing this year as well, and Chase & Status actually supported them. I just remember saying, “I would love to do that.” It’s mad even seeing my name on the poster.
Chase & Status’ style is very different to your solo music. Do you prefer to stick to blues, like your EP Release the Brakes, or would you be interested in branching out into other genres?
Right now I’m doing what I do, do you know what I mean? But one day, maybe, I’ll become like Calvin Harris or someone like that… I definitely won’t be that but right now I’m sticking to what I’m comfortable with and what I think I know, which suits me, and people seem to be liking it.
Who would you say are your musical influences?
Blues and jazz are my biggest influences, for example Amy Winehouse and the way that Little Richie performs. I take a bit of influence from Elvis, but then also grime artists… To be honest, I just try and do me.
I take a bit of influence from Elvis, but … to be honest, I just try and do me
I read that you haven’t always had musical ambitions, that one day you just discovered you could sing, is that right?
Yeah, the truth is I just got drunk and it happened. I just started singing at this party and my friends asked me if I would join their band. At the time I was like, “no way”, but I did it, and I loved it. And after practising for a while I kind of found my own voice.
Did song writing come to you just as naturally as singing?
Yeah, I’ve always just written about what I felt. I never thought people would hear it, I just did it for me. When I decided I wanted to do music, I just thought, “I don’t want to sing other people’s music, because, like, fuck that.” I’d rather just sing about what I’m singing about, not about what someone else is singing about. Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Ray Charles, they sang about what they felt like.
What was your favourite song to write on Release the Brakes EP?
‘Praying’ was sick to write. I really love all of them but I definitely enjoyed writing ‘This is the Age’, which is about my dad. I wrote ‘Giving It All’ with my friend, which was sick, doing it together, and we were really happy with it. I like all of them, they’re all different.
I feel that this really demonstrated how down to earth and easy-going he is
The final question I asked him, about what we can expect from him in the future – the answer being a summer of festivals and a tour in the Autumn – got side-tracked as, while trying to find my nearest gig, he began asking me questions about my hometown. This tangent ended up taking up the last few minutes of our allotted time, and while I didn’t get to ask more about him I feel that this really demonstrated how down to earth and easy-going he is. Our conversation ended with me promising to go see him perform this summer and his farewell: “big up, Mads, see you in a bit.”