90’s British power band Gomez is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their second album Liquid Skin. In the name of giving the people what they want, Gomez has re-released the album that expanded their abilities sonically and allowed them to confirm their Mercury Music Prize-winning debut Bring It On was no fluke.
Just recently the band toured worldwide, in honour of Bring It On reaching its two-decade milestone, playing the album in full. Considering the strength of support and the obviously enduring nature of the album, there was no question Gomez would return to do the same with their second. But what is it about Bring It On and Liquid Skin that has been so lasting and deeply loved by fans for decades now?
“I don’t know,” singer and guitarist Ben Ottewell reflects, “for me, they don’t speak to a particular genre or a particular moment in history – they don’t seem to be following any sort of fashion. It just seems to endure and has dated a bit better than some of the music back then. They were the backdrop to the travelling explosion of the late ’90s and early 2000s for people. People tell me that those records were the soundtrack to those backpacking experiences for them. I guess that latent nostalgia is tied into those memories of that time.”
The release of Bring It On thrust Gomez into the limelight, but also brought them significant accolades and changed things drastically for the band, who had barely played a gig before its release. Liquid Skin quickly followed and shot to number two on the UK Album Charts.
“It’s funny,” Ottewell reflects, “because it’s almost like Bring it On and Liquid Skin were the same thing – once we started and got going, we didn’t really stop for three or four years.”
But while many of Liquid Skin’s tracks were written amongst the blurred artistic haze of Bring It On, a lot had changed for the young band by the time Liquid Skin was being produced and released – “there was a general broadening of horizons in a way. Before Bring It On was released, before we got signed, I’d never even been abroad. And then we toured an awful lot, and we were getting out to play for people, which we had never done before Bring It On. We had a broader palate. It was back when there was money in the music industry, and you could hire Abbey Road for a couple of days and could get an orchestra – we were having a lot of fun.”
Gomez’s line up also includes singer and guitarist Ian Bell; singer, guitarist and keyboardist Tom Gray; bassist Paul Blackburn; and drummer and synth player Olly Peacock. All members contribute as songwriters to the band, and it’s this style, Ottewell owns, that, “makes us who we are. There is no other way we know how to do it. It gives us our identity – we don’t all share the same taste or the same sort of outlook. If you’re going to be involved in a collaborative project you need to keep it interesting; you don’t want to be looking in the mirror when you’re collaborating. You want things to bounce off and things to engage with and you know, mess with. I think we all sort of have that ability to surprise each other and make left turns and get lost in it a bit. And some of the stuff we have been writing is really great. We still have that ability to do that with each other, so hopefully, it is going to translate into the work.”
While twenty years is a long time for any band to stick it out, the cracks aren’t showing with Gomez who began playing together when they were teenagers.
“People don’t really change all that much, I’ve found,” says Ottewell, “particularly as musicians you sort of get this arrested development thing where the minute you get signed and go out, that’s the age you kind of remain for the rest of your life. We are a little bit juvenile when we get together, we sort of encourage each other – it’s great.”
The Liquid Skin tour will also be a bit different from the recent Bring it On. “I think it’s got more energy then Bring It On, just a lot of fun. A lot more sort of free-er, a lot more rocking. A lot of the songs on Bring It On are a bit hard to sing,” Ottewell jokes, “so it’s a bit easier. Not quite as high. It makes a bit more sense playing Liquid Skin in its entirety then Bring It On did.”
The band will play a string of national tour dates, as well as headlining the family-friendly Lost Lands Festival in Melbourne this coming November which also features the likes of hip hop star Baker Boy, soul sisters Vika & Linda Bull, electro-rock icons Regurgitator, songwriter and poet Sampa The Great, indie rock band Holy Holy, and Japan’s pop-punk outfit Shonen Knife.
With a lineup jam-packed with music, circus, theatre, comedy, installations and creative workshops, the three-day event is the ultimate festival for big and little folk to escape the ordinary and discover a wondrous world amongst the magnificent parklands at Werribee Mansion.
It’s perhaps a shift in demographics to what Gomez was used to in the ’90s, but Ottewell encourages it. “It’s really good. I mean we have all got families, everyone gets their families to the shows as much as we can. I had my kids at a couple of festivals during the summer which was great – it’s what it’s all about you know?”
Catch Gomez at The Lost Lands when it returns to the magnificent gardens of the Werribee Mansion Melbourne Cup Weekend on 1-3 November 2019. Tickets are available through www.thelostlands.com.au. Gomez will also be performing on Sunday, November 10 at The Croxton, Melbourne.
Listen to Liquid Skins below.
Written by Megan McNeel