The band, who this time last year would have only described themselves as "a bunch of guys who recorded a lot together and then sent some tapes out", are aware that most of the high praise has come with questions attached. Questions such as how could a bunch of 22-year-olds from Lancashire produce a thick swathe of swampy country rock that sounds as if it's slithered drunkenly out of some Texan border town? Is it natural for a growl like a desperado trucker on a 50-a-day habit to emanate from the gangly, pale- skinned and bespectacled Ben Ottewell? How can a band who have shot out of practically nowhere sound so polished and inventive, mixing the laid- back sound of the bayou with a British end-of-the-Nineties dance sensibility?
Gomez know that these queries about their authenticity and the sheer accomplishment of their debut album Bring It On verge on the hypocritical. After all, comparatively few people raised such questions about Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and others who plundered the vibes and chords of Sixties beat groups. "Britpop was boring, and you could guess everything 'cause it was so predictable," says Tom. "It's bizarre that people talk about us this way in a country that has a long tradition of bands looking to American influences. Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Clapton all did that and made something different from it. Music is supposed to grow and evolve. But there's still people that hide in their little cubbyhole and say you still aren't allowed to sound American."
Apart from the end product, there are two things that set Gomez apart from their compatriots who were content to recycle the Kinks and Small Faces. First, it's evident that between them these five guys have a veritable library of records. Ian looks almost embarrassed when he's asked about the size and extent of his collection. At least one of them professes to being a "bit of a Deadhead once", and Ben Ottewell had a phase of hardcore techno. "Paul Simon," reckons drummer Ollie Peacock, "probably had a big influence on all of us when we were 13 or whatever age, and people like David Byrne and Ry Cooder, well they're great and just like doors for getting into other things."
Things such as swampy blues riffs and mariachi licks, a glorious mash of sounds that pits the passion of the Allmans, Creedence and the Burritos with the rhythm of the Stone Roses, combining it all to make the sound that you think the Stone Roses themselves would like to have achieved on The Second Coming.
"I don't think we would have been so rhythm-based if it hadn't been for the last 10 years of British music and especially since it's so easy to get hold of African and Latin music in this country these days," says Ollie. Second, and more tellingly, is guitarist and co-vocalist Ian Ball's assertion that "you make music you want to make and make it with people you want to instead of trying to fit in with some preconceived audience". Think about it and that's what not only killed the formulaic Britpop bands but also strangled the short-lived grunge phenomenon in America. Tom can't resist the assertion that "music is an adventure and if you treat it like a product, you're never going to make the records you really love doing".
In case Gomez might seem like a bunch of well educated muso nerds there's more humour in this album than most others you'll hear this year. All five of them jabber about the weird sounds they were able to slap on the disc, and Gray juts in once again.
"On our first single, '78 Stone Wobble', we used a sample from a language record from the Sixties that jabbers on about Steve McQueen and Sean Connery for some reason. We just used an old gramophone dropping the stylus on hopefully the right place. Then on 'Whippin' Piccadilly' we used an old Eighties drum machine. It's great; it just makes such a horrible noise. And the first sound on the album is a toy 1980s Yamaha keyboard on saxophone setting."
The rise of Gomez has been quite incredible even by modern British standards. They signed to Hut last September, and their live debut was as support to Embrace on a short tour that ended with a sold-out show at the London Astoria in front of 2,000 people. "All of a sudden the floor was massively interesting that night," chips in Ollie. Soon they were headlining a massively oversubscribed Dingwall's, in London's Camden Town, and enjoying it like veterans. Playing live, Gomez have to forget the twiddles and samples on their album and go out as a full-on rock'n'roll band, and they achieved it with ease, adding a much more blatant psychedelic edge than is apparent on their album. Ben's vocals sound even more awesome live as he reaches into the pit of his stomach to release the Bubba inside. Meanwhile, with the release of their current and second single, the bluesy swaggering singalong of 'Get Myself Arrested', Gomez are in their new base of Ilkley where they have a studio.
"We like tea and we like old people," is Tom's answer to why they have moved there. Quite what Yorkshire pensioners walking past their studio will think of the Joe Walsh-era Eagles guitars, the dancey rhythms and general Mexican madness is anyone's guess, but for the rest of us it's time to stop asking questions and just enjoy the most innovative British rock album of the year to date.Reuse content