Gomez reunites for ‘Bring It On’ anniversary tour, coming to Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
What: ‘Bring It On’ 20th Anniversary Tour
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, July 19, 8:15 p.m.
How much: $40-$140
Tickets: Belly Up box office; www.bellyupaspen.com
Depending on your age, Gomez’s 1998 album “Bring It On” likely means everything to you or means nothing at all.
The Mercury Prize-winning, platinum-selling debut from the British rock band was a touchstone for a sizable segment of old millenials and Gen-Xers — a refuge from a boring and conservative moment for rock music, a stylistic grab bag that was like nothing else out there.
“People who love this record really F-ing love this record,” Gomez singer, guitarist and keyboardist Tom Gray said in a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Brooklyn.
Gomez is celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Bring It On” with a North American tour that comes to Belly Up on Tuesday.
Gomez didn’t have a record deal when they made “Bring It On.” They had no masters to serve and no fans to please, which freed the young band to do something completely original.
“We didn’t make it for anybody,” Gray said. “We didn’t make it for an audience. We made it for ourselves and our friends. I think that’s the X-factor. … It made perfect sense to us, but it’s the kind of thing where accidentally the world got hold of it and it became this strange phenomenon.”
The tour marks the band’s first time playing together in six years. Getting back together and going on the road again was inspired by the band’s record company re-releasing “Bring It On” in the U.K. for the anniversary.
“It felt churlish not to support it and get involved,” Gray said. “And we were ready. … It was just obvious.”
The band began this spring with a few shows in the U.K. — where “Bring It On” was even bigger than it was here in the U.S. — and sold out Royal Albert Hall.
“And then it was like, well, it felt like we should really be taking this to fans everywhere,” Gray said. “It’d be weird not to.”
Here in the U.S. the band’s later albums “How We Operate” (2006) and “A New Tide” (2009) became bigger hits then their debut. But “Bring It On” still has the most passionate following.
That makes playing it front-to-back on the current tour “the world’s easiest job,” Gray said. The “Bring It On” faithful are locked in from the opening notes of “Get Miles,” a creaky toy synthesizer line that’s become a sonic emblem for Gomez.
“The enthusiasm is somewhat uncontrollable,” Gray said.“As soon as I start playing that, everybody is in. It’s great having that as a signature. It’s so definitive.”
“Bring It On” landed in a less-than-proud moment for rock music, as nu metal was reigning in the U.S., Brit-pop was taking over across the sea and boy bands dominated the pop charts. The Gomez record ignored these and any other trends, offering instead a mature and timeless and fiercely original collection of songs that sampled from soul and rock, tossed in some weird Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart-esque touches, some anthemic folk rock and Latin accents. It boasted instant classics like the dreamy “78 Stone Wobble” and the sunny “Whippin’ Piccadilly” and the boozy sing-along “Get Myself Arrested.”
But Gray said playing some of the deeper cuts on the album has been a highlight of the “Bring It On” shows so far. For instance, “Tijuana Lady,” a slow sad ballad running seven-plus minutes, rarely made it onto their set lists until now.
“We didn’t used to play it live so much, because people would get too emotional,” Gray said with a laugh. “Like, ‘Oh no, the entire front row is weeping!’”
Playing “Bubble Gum Years,” another downbeat track about drinking and getting old, is an odd experience now that the members of Gomez are, well, old.
“I can’t believe I was 20 when I wrote that,” Gray said. “It’s weird. I’m like, ‘What the f— is wrong with that guy. … That’s become strangely poignant, playing that as an older guy.”
The current tour follows the release of a massive quadruple-album anniversary edition of the record aimed at superfans that includes early versions of “Bring It On” material, live recordings and 35 unreleased songs. Drummer Olly Peacock dug a box of old demo tapes out of his father’s attic, unheard for two decades, and the band listened back — on a 4-track machine from eBay — to pick out goodies for fans.
The process of remastering the album and the old demos and getting onstage has convinced the band to reunite and keep going after this anniversary tour.
“We’re talking about making a new record, of course, and it’s kind of fun,” Gray said. “It’s interesting playing stuff from right in the beginning of your career and these things from later — it gives you a broad sense of what you’ve done, how you’ve changed. It’s creating some kind of aggregate feeling in the brain about what we need to do next. It’s a very helpful process to reset the creative brain.”
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