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Interview: Ian Ball From Gomez

Tom Baragwanath



On Thursday April 19th, approximately 450 kilos of blues-rock awesomeness will roll its sweet old way into Wellington. Gomez are visiting our distant isles, and I’m one excited dude. So excited that I had to call Ian Ball (vocals, guitars, harmonica) and tell him myself. His response is fairly reserved; “thanks, mate.”

Since their humble beginnings recording 4-track songs in Ian’s Southport garage in 1996, Gomez have risen to international recognition with their splendid songwriting, exploring a more loose and unstructured attitude to rock music whilst retaining distinctive blues sensibilities. In 1998 their beautiful debut album Bring It On won the much-coveted Mercury music prize, beating the pants off The Verve’s Urban Hymns and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine.
Since then they’ve released a swag of albums, each possessing a certain distinctive identity. It’s almost as if Gomez reinvent themselves for each album; there’s Liquid Skin, full of blues-pop anthems and the odd dub-inspired ditty, In Our Gun, with its harder, more insistent rock jams, and more recently Split the Difference and How We Operate, albums which showcase a more concise and focused Gomez. For Ian the eclecticism is easily explained; “If you churn out the same album four times in a row, either you’re going to get really bored, or your audience is going to get really bored. Although it hasn’t seemed to harm U2.”
The band is renowned for their intense live performances, which occassionally feature the odd surreal costume. Ian explains: “we once had someone dressed as a fried egg and someone else dressed a priest. I was dressed as an extremely fat American tourist, just sort of walking around the stage scratching my arse and drinking Bud Light. The American audience were utterly bewildered by it.”
Their choice of set list material is equally intriguing; “we’ll typically have maybe three rock tunes, a couple of country numbers, a few psychedelic numbers, a few straight-up blues jams, some calypso songs, a bossanova. We’ve got rave music. Whatever takes our fancy really.” Christ, Ian, you’ve neglected classical and rap.
Whatever aural concoction Gomez decide to treat us to, it will surely be a rollicking good time. Head along and get yourself arrested.

Gomez play the San Francisco Bath House on Thursday April 19th with Wayne Anderson (but he’s terrible, so don’t bother coming till late).
Tickets are $60 from Real Groovy.