August 30, 2006

TomBlog - mercury deriding

Here summit I wrote for music week last week....thought you might be interested.

As the last festival closes the last of its heavily secured and poorly signposted entrances. As autumn leaves begin to be trod underfoot, the anticipation of another Mercury Prize drifts in, and does a pretty good job of joining the leaves, under our feet. It's not that I'm bored of talking about the Mercury Prize, well perhaps a little, there's just a touch of mettle fatigue.

Winning the Mercury Prize was truly the most astonishing event in my life. I was 21 years old, had joined some friends in making some music for pleasure, had suddenly and quite unexpectedly got a record deal, made one, and within six months won the biggest single award for music in the land. It was a freak occurrence. I doubt very much that a story such as ours could happen again. Untouched by a marketing man, unfettered by stylists, without any of the nauseating fake mythology that the press loves to devour. How ever you perceive us, we were just trying to be unlike everything else.

It changed our worlds. We went from being a few lads who wanted to put out a gate-fold album simply to see what it would look like to skin up on, to selling over a million. 10 thousand was our highest hope. To this day I travel the world playing music. I think it's clear that wouldn't be the case if we hadn't won the prize. I am indebted to it, its media whirlwind and its support of originality.

Though not abroad, the prize has considerable negative ramifications at home. With an establishment/critical stamp of approval we were bound to be re-assessed almost immediately. In fact, its inevitable you'll be called crap and told to leave the dancefloor within seconds of winning. Unlike other industries where people might just put this down to envy, an ugly desire to see others fail or the vanity of critics, the British music world is too fickle to be true. If the prize duth make you, the prize duth break you. We were a sacrificial lamb. Within months of winning, music people seemed to just ignore our music and then our growing sense of indignation. It's possible that part of the problem with the prize is it dispossesses the media of its king-making role and a sort of bitterness pervades.

The Mercury Prize is, theoretically, a prize for British innovation. Its 'curse' is not in its delightfully naïve hope for innovation, but in its being British. The scope and range of music with any visibility (or is that audibility?) to British people is so frightfully narrow, commercial or conservative that an award for originality is really quite a nonsense. Does anyone in this industry really support music that genuinely doesn't fit in? It's like winning a prize for most likely to succeed at a suicide training camp.

Nevertheless, there is hope elsewhere. I'm now 29 years of age, we're appearing on Jay Leno's Tonight show for the first time in our ten year career this month, we have just embarked on a sold-out tour of Australia. Our present release is out-selling all our previous ones in the US. Whatever was initially so attractive about our music doesn't seem to have been such a glamour to others. Our music is now heard on radio, tv and film more frequently around the globe than ever before. Three cheers for the Mercury! Yet in the UK, and forgive the hack irony from my jet-lag decamp Adelaide hotel suite, we can't get ourselves arrested.

10 Comments:

Blogger bae72 said...

Hi guys, I caught your HiFi bar show in Melbourne on the 29th. The third time I've had the pleasure of a Gomez gig. A bit late but anyway.... Tom was into it, getting the crowd going as always. I think Ian must still be ill as he seemed quiet, and Ben too, except for his hilarious antics during rough stuff. Anyway, keep up the good work. Glad you're getting your much deserved success and stay away from Rove, you don't need him!!!

8:57 PM  
Blogger smackers said...

Me and my fellow Mez stalkers can never understand the way the music industry works here (U.K). I can only scream at the T.V when coverage of festivals such as V show musically inept presenters practically wanking over shite bands who look like they've just won X factor, show no musical soul and present nothing thats pulls on the rib cage and flutters the heart. I was pretty miffed by Dermont O'leary last year when he interviewed you and Ben on radio 2. He said what a huge fan he was and is and then imediately asked you where you had been for the last 7 years....DUR Dermont stick on Split the Difference and turn it up fucking loud!! On the flip side though, and, as i calm my nerves, we still get to feel intimate about the music and it's something special to share with, and give as a gift to friends, global domination will occur but will be more steady flow than tidal wave in the U.K. Could be worse, could be a judge on Pop Idol or worse still you would not be able to have a pint down your local without being hassled by a chav or chavette! Rant over......for now.

9:46 AM  
Blogger jacinta said...

The people that ignore your music, just don't know any better. The media is both friend and foe to all. Use and abuse I say. Chin up, we all know how talented you boys are, we wouldn't have boutght all those tickets for all those shows in Melbourne if we didn't! SOLD OUT...well done to us all!

9:32 PM  
Blogger Ryn said...

Back up. Jay Leno? Seriously? When? In studio? Say in studio because I live three blocks from the studio and will totally skip work to scream like a stupid fan girl. eff it, I'll drag my co-workers. Just say "in studio performance" and the date.

11:18 PM  
Blogger mytvc15 said...

Thought you might get a kick out of what other artists have said in regards to critics:

"Critics!...Those cut-throat bandits in the paths of fame."
Attributed to Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Scottish poet and songwriter.

"I had another dream the other day about music critics. They were small and rodent-like with padlocked ears, as if they had stepped out of a painting by Goya."
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Russian-born U.S. composer. The Evening Standard (London), October 29, 1969.

"If I had listened to the critics I'd have died drunk in the gutter."
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
Russian playwright and short-story writer.

"There is a certain race of men that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius, who stand as sentinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving Ignorance and Envy the first notice of a prey."
Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) British lexicographer and writer. The Rambler, 1750-1752.

"Pay no attention to what the critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic."
Attributed to Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Finnish composer.

Feeling better?

2:00 AM  
Blogger pf said...

Spot on smackers, BBc6 kept on about having them on and then gave us a crap 5 minute interview and see the world(superb). Friends who do the festival tour said they were amongst the highlights, yet all channel 4 could come up with was an argument over morriseys first name. Don't know whats worse celebrity fans or critics. HWO love it love it, got married to GSLD.

5:42 AM  
Blogger Tucker said...

you make incredibly gorgeous and inspiring music. Thanks for the 10 years, keep doing what you're doing (and striving), and eff the press.

Oh and please come back to Boston asap.

Tucker

5:31 PM  
Blogger Viola D said...

Wow. And so often I get disillusioned with my own, Australian industry. But we ain't so bad. Nobody's perfect. The Brits, however, are shooting themselves in the foot here. But, what do I know. I'll tell you - I know that your music does wonderous things for millions of people, and I am honoured to be one of them. I also know that sometimes having random strangers tell you that you're fabulous is like a drop in an emotive ocean, but I do hope it helps. You are massive in our eyes, and we each of us love you, yes we do! Stay Mez.

8:57 AM  
Blogger mytvc15 said...

Hi Gomez,

I bought In Our Gun just recently and have difficulty taking it out of the CD player.

In Our Gun is a beautiful compilation of songs that flow gently and effortlessly into each other. The songs possess a harmonious blend of engaging lyrics and haunting melodies. Sound of Sounds is most beautiful -- almost angelic -- in a Beach Boys Pet Sounds kind of way.

Pure genius. Enjoyable from beginning to end…not wanting it to end.

Gomez is unlike everything else, yet so familiar.

I am thrilled to have found Gomez.

10:37 PM  
Blogger gomezgeek said...

did you enjoy listening to that copy of the bar fly demo?

I still think you should play staxx one night...you know at a show for which Im actually there.

i shall leave my feelings on the marriage of capitalism and music to myself.

Just glad you can still do what you do, and hope you can always do it (and that I can always get to the front row.)

1:53 AM  

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