Indie rock band Gomez is gathering together to play live once again in Chicago. The group is from Southport, England and grew up playing music through the years. Their music can be described as a mix of styles from folk to blues. Lead singer and guitar player Ian Ball talked briefly before their appearance.
Hi, Ian. Where are you calling in from?
I am boiling hot in Los Angeles. That is the kind of vibe that is going on here today.
Are you performing out there?
No, I live here, with my little fella. We are just chilling. I have been in LA for 8 years.
Do you like it better than England?
I do, nothing against England whatsoever. I am a fan of the sunshine and that kind of thing.
So you are coming out here on the Dave Matthews Caravan tour. Are you a fan of his?
Growing up in England you don’t really get to know the Dave Matthews Band. He is quite exclusively an American phenomenon. It was only when we toured in the United States that we crossed paths with Dave and his cohorts. I think everyone is about the live experience, that whole thing is crazy, demented and about partying. It is more than a band. It is an experience in and of itself.
I wasn’t familiar with this Caravan thing he is doing.
It is a very smart move to stay in one place and get the people to come to you. In theory that is what Dave Matthews has always been about. People travel to his shows. They have meet ups, college reunions, weddings and all of that. A couple of years ago we did some shows with Dave and I was trying to figure out from the audience where all of these people had come from, it was a springboard for college get togethers. Dave just decided to stay in one place. It is very smart, kind of like a theatre production.
So similar to Lollapalooza…
Yes, that is right.
This album Whatever’s On Your Mind is your seventh record?
I have no idea. That sounds about right.
That’s a big career.
It is epic. It is quite rare to get to number seven.
You have a big following.
We have been grinding on the musical train for twelve or thirteen years.
Tell me about the new music.
One of the interesting things about making it was that it was really enjoyable. It was very easy and a very smooth process of a new way of writing songs. It always strange when we get a collaboration going so we decided on this one that we would collaborate without ever actually being together. We would just blast things over the Internet to each other. For about five months we wrote songs and things, pieces, little snippets, whatever we felt like. We would share them and edit each other, erase things. It was a free for all. Things went out into the magic box and you could download it. That is how we ended up with the 10 songs that we ended up with recording. It was a really good collaboration, not being stuck in the studio waiting for each other to finish a take then criticizing them. This took all of that out of the equation. We just let people do their thing. Nobody was watching people create.
That is very independent.
It turned out the most concise and together Gomez album that we have ever done. We actually sound like the same band from beginning to end. That is something we have not achieved before (laughs).
So then you all get together and tour. Is that how it works?
Yes, exactly. We got together for 10 days in the studio to actually record it. But some people didn’t go. Some people just stayed at home and blasted things through the Internet. It was very easy. We just worked to our strengths.
Where did the name Gomez come from?
We got it originally from The Addams Family. We named it after him. It also means “the man” in Spanish. It is the direct literal translation. I don’t speak Spanish but that was what I was told.
That must be slang from somewhere.
IMaybe it doesn’t. I have always believed that it does. I should check out my facts more often.
Speaking of Spanish. You composed some music for the movie La Cucina. How was that?
It was awesome. The idea of the soundtrack is that it was somebody writing something. That is what Zed my friend who directed it said. He wanted the soundtrack to be about someone trying to write music. So that is exactly what I did. I watched the film and tried to write music while I was watching it. I wasn’t able to write anything. It was just like sketches. The soundtrack came out really well. It was an interesting experience because as soon as I was onto something that sounded cohesive then I couldn’t go any further. I had to stop and start again. It was more thought than fully formed things. It was a very improvised sort of thing.
You did some music for the film American Beauty correct?
Yes, the Gomez crew had a song called “We Haven’t Turned Around” when Kevin Spacey was doing some perving on his daughter’s friend. We soundtracked Kevin being a perv. It was awesome.
You are not related to Alan Ball right?
No. I was going to be called Alan right up until a couple of days before I was born, but then my parents had a last minute change of heart.
Well, I am looking forward to seeing you this Sunday.
Is it really that soon? It’s weird because I am sort of lounging around at home. This weekend I will be in front of an entire swarm of lunatics.
You have been to Chicago many times before. You have made albums here…
Chicago is right up there with our favorite cities. I couldn’t even guess how many times we have had amazing nights at The Vic Theatre. It would be over 15 occasions. We lived in Bucktown for a while during the recording of the previous record. We are extraordinarily familiar with Chicago. The great thing about Chicago is that you have American sensibilities with an English sense of humor.
Gomez arrives July 10 for the Dave Matthews Caravan. Visit http://www.dmbcaravan.com for details and find more of the group at http://www.gomeztheband.com.