InTheMiddle with Tom Grennan

Tom Grennan has been on a rollercoaster of a journey in the last few years. From headlining Barn on the Farm, to breaking the World Record for playing the most gigs in 12 hours, to now selling out Leeds’ own O2 Academy, Tom Grennan is anxious to begin his tour across the UK and show the country what he’s got. The Gryphon was able to catch up with him before it all began.

So you’ve just started your tour, what can people expect from it?

Expect to have a good time and it’s going to be the best show they’ve ever seen. I’m surprised more than anyone else that people are actually coming out to watch me and vibing and loving the album and stuff, so it’s cool.

I understand tonight you’ll be busking to help raise money for The Big Issue, why do you like to get involved with things like this? 

I think it’s important man, especially The Big Issue. I watch people stand out there for hours and hours, sometimes they don’t make nothing, but it’s people trying to do something to get off the streets and to try and make their lives better. Yet, as people getting off the train we don’t think like that. We don’t think like that they’re not just standing around, they’re in the freezing cold and I’m moaning about a fucking cough. I think it’s important for me to get involved because if I can give someone just a little bit of help then I should.

You’ve been to both Reading and Leeds, which do you prefer? Why?

Reading, it was the first festival that I went to. Don’t get me wrong I do love Leeds but Reading, I’ve got a lot of memories as a kid you know.

Image credit: Tom Grennan

When you were meeting fans at Reading this year you stayed longer than scheduled to see everyone, are fans really important to you?

100% they’re the reason I’m here, so I’ll fucking do it for hours if it means to meet everybody then. Like tonight I’m going to feel so bad not being able to go out and meet everyone. But I need to make sure that the shows amazing for each and every single one of them.

You’re also quite known for your style, has it always been an interest of yours?

Yeah I’ve always liked trying to dress differently and stuff, I don’t really think about it I just enjoy being creative.

How have you worked on your songwriting skills?

Writing is like being a builder, or whatever you do. You just sit down, develop and you work at your graft. I was never into English or anything in school but I’ve always thought differently, I think.

You’ve collaborated with both Bugzy Malone and Chase & Status, covering both grime and drum and bass. Is there a genre you’d like to try in the future?

Yeah maybe, but right now I haven’t really thought about that. K-Pop or something would be cool I imagine.

What’s your favourite thing about making music? 

Playing live. I love performing. I love the energy that a show can give. I just love that people are giving so much love and in the room you can feel that, it’s cool.

What did you used to listen to when you were younger? How has that changed?

I listened to a lot of grime music when I was a kid, it wasn’t until I started actually focusing on music that I actually started getting into different things like soul, country music, blues.

As someone who went to university, any highlights that you can remember?

Just getting fucked, I didn’t really learn too much I just had a good time; I met loads of good people. I think it was important for me to go, I became independent and learnt a lot about myself, what to do and what not to do.

How about tips for aspiring creators who are currently studying? 

Keep that passion alive – do everything you can to make that dream a reality. I’d say study, but have fun with it as well. I remember watching uni students take things so seriously and it was just like, mate come on. Just do your best, that’s all you can do.

Image credit: Tom Grennan

You’ve been open with your mental struggles in the past, how do you feel that your music helped you through it? 

By writing about it, by singing about it, by putting it out into the world. These things that I went through were my personal issues, when I wrote about them it’s like scattering ashes. Then other people listened and took my ashes, using them to change their thoughts and their problems.

Anything you want to tell the uni students out there who are just trying to make it from day to day?

Like obviously get your degree, but don’t take it too seriously. Real life starts and you have to worry about money, leaving your mum’s house or your dad’s house and finding a career. These few years are about learning about yourself. Go meet people, go say hello and if you’re scared and if you’re shy, believe that other people are in your shoes as well. You’ve got to go over there and say “let’s get drunk” and they’ll be like “sweet” and you’ll have a good friend.

Tom Grennan’s latest album Lighting Matches is out now on all major streaming platforms.

Jessica McCarrick

Header image via Tom Grennan