• John Earls

The Runout Grooves with John Earls: Tom Grennan interview and previewing The Anchoress

Each fortnight, leading music journalist John Earls goes deep on new releases, examines the latest vinyl issues and talks to the makers of the best new albums.

STAR PLAYERS: Talking to the makers of the best new albums

This week: Tom Grennan

On a different level to most singer-songwriter peers, Tom Grennan's throaty rumble and up-for-it tunes saw Lighting Matches become one of 2018's 10 best-selling debut albums.

Having graduated from Luton Town and Northampton Town's football academies to Brixton Academy and Leeds Academy and the main stages at Reading And Leeds Festival with 250 million streams, Tom should have been celebrating.

Tom's personal life took a knock - but on sensational second album Evering Road, the gravelly charmer dusts himself down to make one of the most heartwarming records of the year. Tom explains his tale of redemption to us...

Were you always going to be so honest about your mistakes that helped end your relationship in these new songs?

I had to be. This isn't a break-up album, it's a "Sorry" letter. It's me saying I was an idiot, and I'm sorry for that. I've grown up now, or I've at least tried to. I've become the man and the artist I want to be, and that's down to the stuff that's happened in my life.

How hard was it to write about the end of your relationship?

Really hard. But I couldn't kid anyone that this didn't happen to me. If I'd tried ignoring what happened and written about partying and the weather, I'd have hated it. I'd be letting down the people who want to listen to my music, who really understand me. They'd have seen through anything fake.

Was it important not to wallow in making sad songs and instead sound defiant?

Yeah, totally. I wanted the album to sound euphoric and hard-hitting, as that represents the story of how I’ve changed. I felt low and rough before writing these songs, but I didn’t and don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I just want to admit the mistakes I've made, become a better man and move on.

Why name the album after the real London street where you lived with your girlfriend? You could have made up a name for where it all happened...

The album title needed to be honest, to be what the songs are about. Evering Road was a hub of love and heartbreak. So is my album, so it fits. If I'd given it a made-up name, it'd go against what I'm saying in these songs. If that means Evering Road becomes a famous road fans want to visit, cool! I think everyone has their own Evering Road.

How much are you looking forward to getting back out on tour in October at huge venues like London Alexandra Palace and Sheffield Academy in October?

I was meant to be on tour last year. Since the pandemic, I've gone back to the drawing board for the shows, as I knew they could be even better. I want people to feel like they're on Evering Road too, with all its different emotions. I played some shows in lockdown, which were good, but they weren't the same. Having people there singing along, having it, celebrating? I just hope it'll happen. I'm buzzing for it - bring it on!

Evering Road is out on March 12. Pre-order it here