Volume 93, Issue 17

Tuesday, September 28, 1999


Handerek has Grand entrance

Liar neither good or Beautiful

British pop band fuses rock and fun

Comedian looking to proclaim war on idiocy

British pop band fuses rock and fun

Photo by Jasper James
I BET IF WE WERE BACK IN BRITAIN WE'D HAVE OUR FOOD BY NOW. U.K. popsters Gomez have recently unleashed their second album Liquid Skin in Canada to glowing reviews.

By Mark Pytlik
Gazette Staff

Following hot on the heels of their immensely successful debut effort Bring It On, U.K. upstart Gomez is currently promoting the recent domestic release of its sophomore effort, entitled Liquid Skin.

Even more schizophrenic than the first, Liquid Skin seamlessly blends aspects of blues, folk and rock with a vivid and experimental aesthetic, resulting in a record which sounds quite unlike anything else released in 1999.

A nice little success story, especially when you consider this British quintet never intended to put out a record in the first place. This fact may go some way toward explaining why the fellows in Gomez are so damn normal.

Of course, just because they have a reputation as one of England's most down-to-earth rock bands doesn't mean they're not up for a fight now and then.

After enjoying huge commercial success with Bring It On, Gomez became sudden targets for the British press, who took a few potshots at the band's perceived American-wannabe sound.

Vocalist and guitarist Tom Gray doesn't seem too phased by the criticism, citing main offenders New Musical Express and Melody Maker as unnecessary entities in the U.K. press world. "It's a failed enterprise," he coos. "Indie culture is a non-existent culture – it belongs to nobody anymore."

Interesting words for somebody whose band started out within that apparent non-existent culture. Gray cites the emergence of Britpop as what killed the indie ethic in Britain. "Oasis and Blur had that big fight and the big bands in the indie scene were suddenly among the biggest bands in the world," he says. "You look at your Radioheads and your Oasises and your Blurs and you go 'where's the indie scene' and there isn't one anymore – there's no underground!"

He stops to come up for air before continuing. "The dance culture people started saying that they've got an underground – but they haven't got one either! There's no bloody underground anymore and everyone should get out of that kind of mentality. You're overground!" he wails. "If every magazine is writing about it, how the hell can it be underground? It's just pretentiousness on a major scale where people are writing about things that don't exist for the sake of keeping up some kind of momentum."

Gray pauses for a quick drag of a cigarette before acknowledging that the NME and MM backlash was expected. "This is what's funny about those magazines – they've totally lost any sense of what they were originally about," he laughs. "They've become establishment, formulaic, predictable and unfunny. You expect it."

There's no changing the subject now – it's obvious that the gloves are off. "In the late 1970s [the NME] was selling over a quarter of a million copies a week. It mattered and it had a purpose whereas now it's just nonsense."

Gray stops, takes a deep breath and slowly calms himself before continuing. "We fit into anybody's magazine or paper because we don't fit in anywhere. If they wanna write good things about us, then fine. If they wanna write bad things about us, then fine too."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999