Interview: Tom Grennan

The last time Glasgow had the pleasure of hosting Tom Grennan was at TRNSMT festival earlier this summer. In the scorching 26-degree heat, Grennan introduced his debut album ‘Lighting Matches’ to a ravenous Scottish crowd for the first time – whilst simultaneously pleading the audience for a bottle of factor 50. It was a true Scottish belter – both the concert and weather alike.

Interviewer Nicole Watt and Tom Grennan

Fast-forward four months, Glasgow lays drenched in a sombre state of October rain and Tuesday blues. And yet, despite the grey, the city’s Gallowgate glows every shade of yellow and red in a hazy Barrowland Ballroom brilliance. The atmosphere on the iconic street is electric as buzzing fans line the pavements, preparing to witness one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the year. Tonight, Glasgow hosts Tom Grennan once more.

“It’s fucking crazy, it’s very strange. There’s a long list of greats who have played here”, he says, grinning proudly whilst gazing around his dressing room: “It feels like you’ve stepped into something huge. There’s an aura.”

Grennan’s Barras gig marks the official kick off of the tour, with the majority of subsequent venues already sold out across the country.

“I’m always grateful. Two years ago no one really knew about me. These two years have been the shortest space of time. It’s mental.”

In 2016, electronic music duo Chase and Status released All Goes Wrong featuring Grennan’s vocals. The song would soon become the ultimate career catalyst and prompt the Bedford-born singer’s speedy emergence onto the British music scene.

“I’m so happy. After tonight I can say I’ve played the fucking Barrowlands innit. That’s got to mean something.”

Grennan’s debut album Lighting Matches has received electrifying media praise since its release in March this year. NME notably awarded the album with four stars whilst commending it’s feeling of ‘indie dance floor serotonin’.

“I think there’s a lot to expect from the tour. Expect the album. Expect to cry. Expect to laugh. Expect to have a good time on a Tuesday night in Glaaaasgow.”

The bold and brave mix of sixteen tracks blurs the limitations of genres throughout.  From slow ballad-esque vibes of Lucky Ones and Run in the Rain to the funkiness of better-known Found What I’ve Been Looking For, the album represents Grennan’s personal desire to avoid specific genre labelling.

“I fucking hate the word indie. I get that so much man.” He says, shaking his head lethargically.

“I’m not an indie artist. I’m not a rocker. I’m not about that. I just want to be a fucking star.”

Grennan’s genuine passion for his music is blatant. It’s both bizarre and refreshing to meet an artist who is so confident in his own talent, and yet still so incredibly down-to-earth. “Ha, I sound like a prick”, he laughs- but doesn’t imply any regret in his words.

The timing of the tour couldn’t be more seamless career-wise. Just one week before, Grennan’s Radio One Live Lounge recording broke the Internet, with his prodigious rendition of Ariana Grande’s God Is A Women.

“She’s amazing. It’s a powerful song, it was a challenge. But I really love her album. The song just spoke to me so I thought, let’s do it.”

The performance dominated twitter feeds for days, with fans obsessing over the reinvented cover and pre-eminent final note.

“I did it then flew to South Africa so I didn’t really get to see the reaction. It’s really cool though, man. I heard a bit about the whole note thing”, Grennan recalls modestly. “I’m just singing hymns man”, he laughs.

Grennan and his band will be on the road until the end of October, concluding the tour in Belfast’s notorious Limelight. With a tour and album in his back pocket, as well as numerous notable collaborations, his fans can’t help wonder what’s in store for the artist at the end of the year.

“Right now, I haven’t even thought about it. I’ve had a few people hitting me up for collabs. But, hey, who knows man”, he says ambiguously. Notably, Grennan has mentioned in the past that his dream collaborations include Adele and Kendrick Lamar.

Tonight, he will join ‘the list of The Greats’ that have taken on the infamous Glasgow Barras, as he kicks off his solo tour.  Once his decorated UK and Ireland stint of the tour concludes, he jets to Europe for more shows. After almost seven months, Lighting Matches continues to grow from strength to strength in album sales and reviews alike, as his fan base rapidly disseminates.

It seems like stardom may be on the cards for the humble Tom Grennan a lot sooner than he realises.

By Nicole Watt