He’s a man of many theories. I walked backstage in The Louisiana, Bristol, to have a chat to emerging artist Tom Grennan before the fifth night of his sold-out UK tour. Lying on the sofa in his matching red Adidas tracksuit, trainers, bomber jacket and cap just an hour before he was due to go on stage, he really did appear to be a star in his own right. At the age of 20, Tom Grennan from Bedford has already worked with the likes of Chase and Status on the track ‘All Goes Wrong’, appeared on Later… with Jools Holland and is managed by John Dawkins or “Dawks” as Tom likes to call him.
Talking about his move from Bedford Esquires to “The Gig Smoke’ in London, Grennan’s days in “suburban, family orientated” Twickenham seemed to be boring, although he expressed his love for London’s “busy-ness”, saying how he felt like he was in the right place. The singers first theory of our interview was that “London either fucking cuddles you, or spits you out, and thankfully at the moment London’s cuddling me”, admitting that he did find that theory scary when he first moved away from home.
After congratulating him on the mighty success of his tour, he said that gigging around the country had been “wicked”, adding “I didn’t know people knew about me in all of these cities”. Grennan has Chase and Status to thank for his exposure, with their collaboration reaching almost 5 million plays on Spotify. He said that the collaboration had taken “months off” his journey, but believes he still would’ve been a success because he “wants to do this”. Queue theory two of the interview: “if you think you’re gonna do something, then you’re gonna do it, yeah mate”.
During the evening, I met a lot of his band mates and tour crew and from the moment I sat down I felt like I was just sat with my mates. Asking about his manager Dawkins, Grennan said he was like his “big brother” and “trusted him with everything”. That decision seemed to be the right one to make as Grennan is set to appear at a number of festivals this year including The Great Escape, Secret Garden Party and Y-Not Festival. Adding to the ‘family’ atmosphere of his crew, Grennan’s modesty and genuineness is something that really resonates with his fans. His honesty when he believes he hasn’t performed so well puts him on a level with his audience, allowing him to make comments such as “I shat myself” during his appearance on Later… with Jools Holland or comment on how his vocal chords felt like “a nun’s one”, without it seeming vulgar. Even on discussing how he “wasn’t good enough” to continue his career as an aspiring footballer, he denied being a good singer and said he “didn’t know that yet” – despite every ticket for his tour being sold out. He clearly has an ever-growing fan base as he told stories of people recognising him in the street and how “last night (in London) some girl broke into the dressing room and she was shaking”. We had a laugh at how fans commenting on his YouTube videos were from Mexico, Baghdad, Spain- and someone even said “big up from Peterborough”.
During the gig, he was the same character on stage as he was off stage and it was a quietly humbling thing to see, almost refreshing. His raspy voice filled the room and consumed the audience; His stage presence was felt throughout as he had banter with people in the crowd, making him an ever-more loving character. As he sang new songs from the album the audience made attempts to sing along despite not knowing the words, and at times Grennan didn’t know them either!
Looking to the future, Grennan said he’d love to do a collaboration with Adele. His career is clearly taking off, and the stars in his eyes are only going to get brighter with the release of his second EP ‘Release the Brakes’ on 10th March. The name and the EP itself is inspired by how keen he is to get going with his career, we even discussed re-naming it ‘Foot on the Throttle’, although I think his choice sounds a bit better than mine. His third and final theory of the interview was for aspiring musicians to “keep doing what you’re doing”, and we agreed that buying a red leisure suit like his wouldn’t hurt.