Gomez: Saving the Planet One Tour at a Time

By • Mar 1st, 2007 • Category: Interviews

Gomez is in a state of flux. For the 5-piece British ensemble, 2006 was a year of change. The former Mercury Prize winners found themselves with a new record label, new homes and an increased road schedule — one that drummer Olly Peacock called “the most intense year of touring the band has ever done.”

Peacock’s June relocation to New York mirrors his bandmates’ Stateside moves, as guitarist/vocalist Ian Ball lives in Los Angeles, bassist Paul Blackburn is in Detroit while Ben Ottewell and Tom Gray still stomp around Brighton, England. The distance hasn’t had the digital influence on Gomez’s sound that one might expect, with some of the writing done continents apart via the Internet. It’s actually had the reverse influence. How We Operate — the group’s fifth studio LP — is their most raw and intimate release to date. And with a newly public focus on the environment, the band’s catalogue isn’t the only thing becoming more naturalistic.

Chicago Innerview: When How We Operate was released, most of the press keyed on how this was a fresh start. After nine months, has it been what you expected?
Olly Peacock: I would say so. We changed a lot — a new label, worked with a producer for the first time and got a new manager. It’s been quite exciting; that was to be expected. As far as sales and promotions go, the change has done wonders. We’re getting more press and I think — in three weeks — we surpassed what the last record did in a year.

Chicago Innerview: How much of that is because of [new label] ATO Records?
Olly Peacock: It’s hard to say. I think it was the music’s doing. It’s difficult to step back and analyze it from that perspective. We did make a conscious effort to make this album a bit more appealing, to make it a ‘band’ record and do something more organic with us playing instruments and having it stripped down…instead of us just messing around with things. I think ATO just had good music to work with.

CI: What did they say about your new environmentally savvy ‘green bus’?
OP: That’s something that is very interesting. We all knew about bio-diesel — which right now the bus isn’t entirely converted. I think it’s something like 80 percent normal and 20 percent bio-diesel. It costs a fortune to convert it entirely right now.

CI: Is this something you’ve talked to other bands about?
OP: Obviously there are people like Willie Nelson who are famous for having a green bus; and a lot of other entertainers are supporting that cause.

CI: So why do something about it now?
OP: It became affordable. For a band our size to do it on our own, it would have been impossible; it costs a fortune. It is still a bit of a hassle, and it’s impossible to find bio-diesel everywhere on tour. So then we started to do the recycling thing on tour and try to stay environmentally smart and just make sure everyone knows about it.

CI: How is it suddenly affordable?
OP: We had some companies approach us and said that if we wanted to do it, they would help support us by taking on some of the costs.

CI: Is the environment something you all have always cared about, or did this come about recently?
OP: It got to the point where everyone knows about it. I mean, kids are learning about it at a lot younger age. So it works out for us all. Obviously we’ve got a lot of good press about it, but now people beyond just the music press are talking about it.

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