"It'll definitely be a whirlwind and I've already had to have a word with myself about it because at festivals I'm a loose cannon mate." Henry Lewis caught up with the gravelly voiced newcomer ahead of multiple festival dates.
Last updated: 19th Jul 2018. Originally published: 22nd Jun 2017
Image: Tom Grennan
It was only a few years ago that a young Tom Grennan was watching Chase & Status at Reading festival with a group of mates enjoying their big bass sonics and pounding rhythms. Fast forward to 2016 and the Bedford born singer was singing vocals on 'All Goes Wrong', the second single to come from the group's forthcoming album and the song that truly broke the gravelly voiced newcomer to the masses.
Television performances courtesy of Jools Holland, Socccer AM and plenty more widened his appeal, with an ever increasing audience picking up on Grennan's slick fashion sense, soulful tones and affability.
At the beginning of the year, he was named alongside the likes of Cabbage, Jorja Smith, Rag'n'Bone Man and more in the longlist for BBC's Sound Of 2017 and with a handful of other singles now under his belt, the 22 year old is going from strength to strength.
Most recently, Grennan was one for the musicians called up by Simon Cowell to cover Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', which on release earlier this week scored the biggest first day sales of any singles this decade.
I wanted to talk to you about your involvement with the Grenfell Tower charity single, firstly congratulations it's so heartwarming to see musicians coming together for such an important cause.
Yeah, it was an honour mate, an absolute privilege.
I wasn't really expecting to be asked at all and my manager rang me saying that they wanted me involved. You see it on the news and stuff like that, but to be actually involved in something like this was very emotional. We all just went in individually and just laid it down and hopefully, it will go some way to help those affected.
Look ahead to festival season, is this your first major festival season as an artist?
This is the big run of dates now yeah, I've never done anything like this before.
Before festival shows I don't really go and watch people playing, I just keep myself to myself so the band I've got, we all just chill together we just have jokes ourselves. As soon as I've finished playing I go and see who else is playing. I've got too much energy so if I start watching other people play I won't be as good myself.
You performed live on the first This Feeling TV show, how did that go down? It was potentially a different audience than what you are used to I gather?
It was a good night, obviously I'm not necessarily that kind of artist, it's more rock and roll This Feeling isn't it? So to be involved in something like that and to be recognised by them and have them push me and recognise my genre is cool.
They booked me for the whole night, but I had two shows that night. I did This Feeling later on. After it was fun, we had a lock in in the pub, it was a good night.
You've collaborated with Chase & Status but considering the indie crowd are fans of your work, which bands would you like to work with if you had the choice?
Blossoms have also worked with Chase and Status, what do you make of them?
I love them man, they're wicked. I saw them the other night supporting the Stone Roses.
Talking about Arctic Monkeys before, you're what 21, 22?
Just turned 22 yeah.
So did you grow up listening to all those massive indie acts at the time, Arctic Monkeys, Pigeon Detectives etc?
To be honest with you mate, I wasn't really into music until about three years ago. I was, but I was interested in it. I'd listen to music, but I wasn't really taking an interest in what people were doing. I was listening to a lot of grime and stuff my mum was into. My first gig was the Kooks, then I got into Arctic Monkeys, The Wombats, Bombay Bicycle Club and all that kind of stuff.
So what flipped the switch and made you want to get involved in the industry?
I just got pissed man, simple as that. [laughs]
I'm not very good at talking but when I sing I can release what I can't say when I'm having a normal conversation.
As a grime fan, how good have these last few years been?
Yeah it's been fucking sick to see and really inspirational. It's wicked.
And I've seen some pictures of you and Bugzy Malone knocking about looking pretty smart....
Yeah man, we've done a song together.
Is that for your EP or his?
That's coming out as his next single, but I'm actually not too sure on that but it's definitely coming out.
What brought you two together then?
I'm a massive fan, and he's obviously worked with Chase & Status, but we linked up on Jools Holland and has was like ''bruv I'd love to work with you'' and I was like "bruv same" then we got to the studio and wrote the track.
Honestly now, how good is it being as young as you are and having the world at your feet as a musician?
Obviously yeah it's fucking wicked but I've still got loads more to do mate so I'm not letting it gas me up at all. I'm just going about my business and I'm not trying to tell myself that I've already done it, I've done fuck all man and I've got loads more to do. Obviously, I've done well though innit, at the moment...
Is your debut album in the pipeline then?
Definitely, mate, I'm not too sure when though...
[to someone else] can I say that?
I can't say about it, but there's one coming and it's going to be fire.
Will a lot of the tracks find their way into your festival sets?
I've got a new single coming out on the 30th June actually, so there'll be a new song for a lot of the festivals.
Do you foresee your festival dates to be a bit of a whirlwind or will you be able to enjoy yourself?
It'll definitely be a whirlwind and I've already had to have a word with myself about it because at festivals I'm a loose cannon mate. The festivals I've been to have always been me coming home and crying to myself at the end of it. I'll thoroughly enjoy the festivals, but not to the extent of being a punter.
My first festival was Reading in 2013. Eminem played, Chase & Status played as well and I think I was 17 and it just got silly mate. I came home and I couldn't even remember my name for about three months.
I had a mad one at V Festival as well. We got the tickets that day, me and my mate went and brought a tent with no sleeping bags and fuckin'... it was good, yeah it was good.
There's definitely loads more you could tell me but you're not going to are you..?
You're a smartly dressed geezer, can you let practicality get in the way of fashion during festival season?
Well I ain't wearing wellies I tell you. I might be going to Glastonbury innit so I'm actually thinking about this. I'll probably just wear exactly what I wear each day. If it gets wet then I'll definitely be wearing the bin bag over the shoe but to be fair could just dig out my Doc Martens man. Multi purpose.