Building on the success of 2015’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Matador’. Gaz Coombes returned earlier this year with ‘Worlds Strongest Man’, an album highly praised for its wide-screen, emotional, cinematic feel and its exploration of what it means to be free and approaching life on your own terms. Damian Robinson caught up with Gaz to find out about the album and his upcoming tour.
A few months on from the release of ‘Worlds Strongest Man’, how have you been finding its reception?
It feels great. It’s always tricky when you spend time writing and recording because in some ways it’s quiet insular. What I’m keen to see first is the reaction from the listeners, and the album had a great buzz when it was released. After that, I like to hear what the songs sound like live and then what the reaction of the audience is. I think the album sounds great live so I’m happy with that, and the reaction we’ve had from the music press and the audiences have been great so I’m really happy with the reception.
And you’ve just released the new single ‘Oxygen Mask’ which has been slightly re-imagined from the album version…
That’s right, yeah. We’ve put together a new stripped-back version of the song after we’d be out on tour and played the track acoustically a few times; we felt it was a really nice way to present the song on a slightly different canvass, perhaps exploring some of its different layers. Garo, who plays in the band, directed a video for the song and I think it’s a great video.
You’ve mentioned you’ve already played some of the songs live. You’ll be in Newcastle very soon, so what kind of show can we expect?
I think what you’ll hear is, firstly, the sound of a tremendous live band: this may be the most powerful live band I’ve worked with and they’re incredibly expressive players. Set wise, we’ll be playing tracks from this album and ‘Matador’ as well as a few other surprises. We played on the James Cordon show recently and by the sound we were making I’d say we’re on really good form.
You’ve played the North East in the past few years. Is there something unique about a North Eastern crowd?
It tends to be that the further up north you go the rowdier the crowd – and that usually makes for a great show because we feed off that energy. A lot of the shows in the North East tend to be pretty surreal and it’s not uncommon for some unusual heckles, so I’d say the North East is full of love and surreal heckles.
Gaz Coombes plays Riverside, Newcastle on Wednesday 24th October. For tickets, and to find out more about ‘Worlds Strongest Man’ and ‘Oxygen Mask’, head to Gazcoombes.com.