Van Hunt's Free "June" Download, Plus Chatting with Steve Cropper and Gomez's Tom Gray

photo credit: Shalon Goss

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter-producer Van Hunt makes his return this week with the online premiere of "June," his first new music in more than three years. "June" heralds the release of Hunt's new album, what were you hoping for? The album arrives in stores and at all digital retailers on September 27th.

"'June' was written to mirror a person's complicated moodiness," Hunt says. "Some people are called pessimists because of their persistent dourness, but I think they are optimists. Sorely disappointed optimists. The song is my attempt to make one, in particular, smile."

Hunt and his band plan to hit the road in the weeks surrounding the album's release, marking his first national tour since 2008. Hunt has attracted critical praise touring as headliner as well as alongside such acts as Kanye West, The Roots, Coldplay, Mary J. Blige, and Dave Matthews Band.


A Conversation With Steve Cropper

Mike Ragogna: Steve, your new album Dedicated is a pretty unique project.

Steve Cropper: (laughs) Well, it is a little different. One thing it will tell everybody is how many friends I've got. It was amazing, the response we got when we reached out to different people saying, "Hey, how would you like to join Cropper and do a tribute to The '5' Royales?" It was almost immediate. It was very easy to do, and there weren't a lot of complications in working stuff out, it was just a matter of getting everybody's schedules together. A lot of them said, "Hey, we want to be there and sing live with a band," that's what was really interesting. It was a lot of fun. Steve Winwood only gets to spend so much time in the States, so he told me when he was over, "Man, I'll do the song for you, but I'll probably have to do it in England in my studio." So, he did his singing and sent it back to us to put on the record.

MR: Basically, this is a tribute album to The "5" Royales, but it's also a tribute to Lowman "Pete" Pauling who was a major musical influence on you, right?

SC: Absolutely. I've been it saying in interviews for years. You know, they always ask you, "Who were your influences when you were growing up." That's one of the top five questions they ask a musician. I almost always have to say that Lowman Pauling was one of them, along with all of the great American people like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Chet Atkins, and people like that. But I always go back to Lowman Pauling because he just had that r&b, funky style, and had that tone that I really love. Bo Diddley had the rhythm and he had the notes.

MR: What age were you?

SC: Well, when we first started hearing it, I guess I was fifteen or sixteen. When I finally got to hear them live, they were playing upstairs from a club we were playing at in '60. I just had to figure out a way to get in there because I was still only twenty years old, and you couldn't get into those places until you were twenty-one. We talked to the owner of the club we were working at, and asked if there was any way we could get upstairs. He said, "Well, I'll try to sneak you in, but I can't get you in because you're underage." Anyway, he did, and that was one of the first touring type bands that I got to see live, unless I went to see them at the fair or something. It was just a major influence in the way they performed, danced and played. Of course, I couldn't take my eyes off of Lowman Pauling. One of the stories I tell about this album is that when I saw him play, he had a really long strap. I had never seen a strap that long, and the guitar almost hung down to his knees. He played down on the low part of the neck, and he would sort of play the shuffling rhythm on the neck the whole time. Then, when it came time for a solo, he'd just pick it up and cradle it. That night after the show, I got home close to midnight and I was in my room looking for some belts so I could add them to my strap and make it longer. My mom said, "What are you doing up this late, and what are you doing in the closet?' I said, "I'm looking for some belts." The next morning, I got up and put them together, and I made this long strap, and I played that way for a long time.

MR: Did you play that way when you were with The Mar-Keys?

SC: With The Mar-Keys, absolutely. One of the pictures on the record--the silhouette thing in front--you don't see the long strap, but it's there. There's a picture of me on my record label, Play It Steve, with the guitar low and me doing the spits with this long strap. That picture was taken at The Royal Peacock in Atlanta. What I didn't know at the time--we had already had the hit record, Last Night, with The Mar-Keys--is that the group The "5" Royales had played there about two weeks before that. So, maybe that's why the photographer said, "You mind if I take your picture the next time you go up?' He took this picture, and at the end of the night, he handed it to me. I thought it was pretty cool, and I've been using that picture for a long time for promotion.

MR: In those days, did you play any of Lowman's songs?

SC: Yeah, we used to play about three or four of them. We always played "Dedicated To The One I Love," which was a ballad. I think we played "Say It" some as well.

MR: We talked about The Mar-Keys in passing, but there's more of a story to that, right?

SC: (laughs) There could be, yeah. There are a lot of stories about The Mar-Keys--some of them we won't tell.

MR: Okay, here's an innocent one--where did the name come from?

SC: The single that was the hit was called, "Last Night." Basically, it was timely or we would have never had a hit and would never have made it. "Last Night" was the first twist instrumental--the first instrumental piece that you could do the twist to. The whole nation and the whole world were doing the twist. Hank Ballard and The Midnighters already had "The Twist" out, and then Chubby Checker came along and covered it, and people like Pat Boone came along and covered it. Hank Ballard and The Midnighters sort of came out of the same area that The "5" Royales did--it's all the same kind of music. So, we just did this instrumental that you could do the twist to. I even remember my mother in the living room doing the twist to it.

But they didn't like the name of the band, they wanted something more marketable. So, we had a meeting of the guys in the studio where a lot of names were thrown out, and I said, "Hey, what about The Mar-Keys?" We were in an old movie theater, and we still had the marquee out front that said, "Stax Records." They said, "Well, yeah, but it's got a funny spelling." So, I said, "Okay, let's not use the French spelling. Let's call it The Mar-Keys." They thought that was interesting because "Last Night" was a keyboard song. I've been accused through the years of not being in The Mar-Keys because there was no guitar on that record, but I did play on it. There is a sustaining organ note that you can hear during the piano solo, and that's me playing that. So, it's correct that there is no guitar, but that doesn't mean I wasn't on the session.

MR: (laughs) Great story. How did you initially get connected with Stax?

SC: Well, it's kind of simple in a way, and kind of a business decision in another way. We had a band together and it was two guitar players, bass and drums, we played a lot of rock 'n' roll, a little bit of dance music, r&b, and that sort of stuff. In the hall one day, this guy came up to me and said, "Hey, I hear you've got a good band." I said, "Well, we'd like to think so." He said, "Well, I want to be in your band." We weren't really looking for any members, but I asked him what he played and he said, "I play the saxophone." I went, "Well, we're not really looking for any horns. How long have you been playing?" He said, "Well, I've been taking lessons for three months." (laughs) Somewhere in the conversation, he said, "You know, my uncle has a recording studio out in North Memphis," and I said, "Well, could you show up for rehearsal this Saturday?" (laughs) So, it was sort of a business decision. His mom was the sister of Jim Stewart, and that's where Stax comes from--Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton--so, S-T-A-X. I went to work for his mom, who had a record shop in the front of the studio. I would sneak in the back and edit tapes or do whatever it took to just do studio work. One day, Ms. Axton said, "Jim, you're going to have to start paying Steve because he's spending more time in the studio than he is in the record shop."

MR: In addition to being a musician, you were also the A&R guy, right?

SC: I was kind of all of that. I did whatever it took--janitor, filing tapes, setting up mics, helping the engineer, and just doing whatever it took. When they originally got that old studio, we had moved from a building in Brunswick, Tennessee, which is about thirty minutes outside of Memphis. Jim got an opportunity to lease this old, abandoned movie theater that hadn't had anything in it for awhile, and I remember going down there on the weekends with Chips Moman and some other guys. We pulled the seats out of there, and a lot of the bolts, which were down in the concrete, wouldn't come up. We'd sit there with hammers and try to break them off, and if they broke up too high, we'd have to bang them down into the concrete--I remember that like it was yesterday. So, we paid our dues to get into that studio.

MR: Nice. You were also part of Booker T. & The M.G.'s.

SC: Right.

MR: Come on, give me a Booker T. story--just a small one.

SC: (laughs) Well, we had been through almost all of the local keyboard players, who were all good, but none of them could commit to a weekly job--they just couldn't handle that much recording and so forth. Floyd Newman, our baritone player, came to me one day and said, "There's a young guy, and he's pretty young, but he really is a good piano and organ player. You might want to go talk to him." So, I found out where he lived, and his mom let me in the house and said, "Booker is in the back playing." So, I went back to talk with Booker T., who was back in the den playing guitar, believe it or not. What I didn't know at the time is that Booker was multi-talented. A lot of people don't know that Booker's main instrument was the trombone--that's what he studied in school. I hired him, and I found out later from Floyd. "You know, I suggested you talk to Booker about being the keyboard player because Booker had played baritone sax on a Rufus Thomas record, and I was afraid of losing my gig." Booker decided that he wanted to continue his education, and went to Indiana State University, I think. There we were again, left without a keyboard player, and I started asking around until somebody told me that I should go see this band that had this great singer and piano player, and his name happened to be Isaac Hayes. I heard him and I hired him on the spot.

MR: That is wild.

SC: Sometimes, when Booker was home from college, we had both keyboard players. They used to trade off, where one would play organ and the other played piano, or vice versa. So, they're on different records at different times, and it's kind of hard sometimes to remember who was playing what. We had the keyboards covered at Stax.

MR: Then, there's also the kind of communal songwriting thing that started happening at Stax. For instance, you're a co-writer on "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay."

SC: Yeah. It's funny--I'd been writing since I was about fourteen, but of course, nobody wanted to listen to me. Then, the instrumental things that I had written for The Mar-Keys--we finally got a couple of them on the album, whenever it was time to put out an album. In those days, you didn't just go in and cut an album. You cut singles, and when you had enough hits, you got to do an album--that's kind of the way it worked. But nobody down there was really interested in hearing what I had to say lyric-wise. So, I got with Carla Thomas one day, Jim Stewart's favorite artist, who had a big hit with, "Gee Whiz." They had been trying for a long time to come up with a follow up record for her. Dean Parker and I came up with a song called "I've Got No Time To Lose," and we thought it was pretty good, so rather than take it to Jim--here I go business-wise again--I took it to Carla. I said, "Hey, come down. I want you to hear this song." She came down to the piano, she had the lyrics, I started singing the melody, and she started singing it. Then, she went to Jim and said, "Jim, Steve and Dean have a great song and I want to record it." Well, it went up the charts, and was probably the biggest thing she'd had after "Gee Whiz." All of a sudden, they wanted to hear all of the songs that I'd written (laughs). Al Bell saw the potential in me and said, "You know, I've got a guy that you could co-write with, and I know that you guys would hit it off. I'm going to bring him down." Well, he brought him down from Detroit, and his name was Eddie Floyd. Eddie and I hit it off, and we probably wrote five or six hundred songs together, and we had five or six pretty good hits.

MR: "Knock On Wood" for sure, right?

SC: ""Knock On Wood," "634-5789," "I've Been Loving You Too Long"--there were just all kinds of songs.

MR: "In The Midnight Hour" is yours too.

SC: Yeah, I wrote that with Wilson Pickett--that was before Eddie. They were in the Falcons

MR: It's great to hear all these connections.

SC: There are a lot of great stories. When Eddie and I wrote "634-5789," and Wilson was coming in, we thought it was a hit for Wilson. So, we brought him to the studio, put up the little demo that we'd done, and he listened to a little bit of it, then wadded it up and threw it on the floor. Eddie hit him with a flying tackle, saying, "You're not going to treat my song that way." They started scuffling around, and I went, "Oh my God, I'm going to get killed." I thought they were mad at each other, but I found out later that they were just playing, and had been doing that since they were kids. Wilson really liked the song, but he just wanted to tick Eddie off by wadding it up and throwing it on the floor. That night, we went down to the motel and wrote another song called "99 1/2," so there you go. We cut them the next day--two number songs, and both of them were hits.

MR: Then, of course, you're name-checked in "Soul Man."

SC: Well, yeah. I always refer to it as being the other half of "play it." (laughs)

MR: Then, you skip ahead a bit and you're a Blues Brother.

SC: Well, you just mentioned "Soul Man," and with the help of that song, we got them dancing, doing their antics and so forth, and that was probably the biggest selling record that we had. That was a pretty good single for us.

MR: Yeah, it was a pretty good movie too, and all of you were in it.

SC: Oh, it wasn't bad. I don't know about the acting on our part, but on their part, it was pretty funny. It's amazing that that movie still holds up and is still funny.

MR: You guys played it a bit straight laced, which I thought was hilarious considering who your frontmen were.

SC: Dan Akroyd and John Belushi really had to stick to their guns to get the band in the movie because Hollywood just said, "No way. We're not going to teach a bunch of musicians how to act." But they stuck to their guns and said, "Okay, there won't be a movie if we can't use the band." So, they got their way.

MR: Let's get back to Dedicated. What is your personal favorite on this album?

SC: Oh, ouch.

MR: Come on, you've got to say it.

SC: When you ask me that, then I have to think about which is the one that I play in the car over and over. The one with Buddy Miller, "The Slummer The Slum." I like it because it favors the guitar--he and I are kind of doing guitar wars, with him playing a baritone guitar and me playing a regular one. That said, they're just all super songs. I'm very fortunate to have people like Bettye LaVette and Sharon Jones on the album to help us out--I can't thank my good buddy, Delbert McClinton enough. We were going to do "Someone Made You For Me," but we really didn't have a singer for that, so we were going to make an instrumental out of it. We were talking about how we were going to set up the track so that I could play the melody and do the instrumental on the song. Dan Penn, who was doing the engineering, asked, "Hey man, who's singing this song? Those lyrics are too good to throw away. You mind if I give it a shot?" So, someone came and told me later that Dan wanted a shot at singing the song, and that he'd to it that night after we leave and play it for us tomorrow. I said, "Well, let him have at it." He sang it great, and then I went in later and overdubbed the solo on it.

MR: Can you talk about some of your guests and how they became part of the project?

SC: When we asked people if they wanted to be part of it, it was almost unanimous, across the board. The way that Jon Tiven and I came about doing this--we had a list of The "5" Royales' songs, which is quite extensive, and we wrote down a wish list of who we would like to sing certain songs. So, we spent a couple of days doing that, and when we got back together, there were a couple of songs that we had the same names on. Of course, people like Bettye LaVette felt the connection because they knew who The "5" Royales were very extensively. It was really easy to connect those people with those songs. Finally, we just gave them the list and said, "What would you like to sing?" So, Bettye LaVette picked her own songs, and B.B. picked his own songs. I had it in mind for Winwood to do "Thirty Second Lover," and I also had Delbert McClinton down for "Right Around The Corner." I could just hear his voice singing that song. Jon Tiven came up with this young kid who is going to be a superstar--his name is Dylan LeBlanc. He's a young guy with a soulful voice, and he was so easy to work with. He just came in and did whatever we asked him to do. He's going to be on this show that we're doing in New York on the 14th of August. We're really looking forward to that. Like I said, the rest of it came easy. We just put the pencil to the paper, coming up with a wish list, and we started making phone calls.

MR: When did "My Sugar Sugar" with John Popper get recorded?

SC: You know, I'm not sure. That was Jon Tiven's idea--of course he's on the same record label too, which doesn't hurt anything. He was in the middle of doing a solo album down in Houston. I don't know if you know the second Blues Brothers movie, Blues Brothers 2000, but he had a part in that, and we became friends. He said, "I can't come to Nashville to record with you, but if you send me a track, I'll be glad to do it." I think Jon gave him two or three options, and it was his idea to pick "My Sugar Sugar." It turned out great, and he was very happy with it. When we sent the final mix back to him, he was very happy.

MR: Steve, with all of you years in the business as an incredible musician, songwriter, and A&R guy, what is your advice for new artists?

SC: Well, that's a good question. I just mentioned earlier Dylan LeBlanc, who I think is going to be a superstar. The only thing I can tell you is the same thing I've always said--if you believe in yourself, and you've got a dream you want to pursue, don't give up. Just hang in there no matter what anybody tells you. If someone tells you that you can't make it or you're not very good, don't believe them. Just keep going and it will find its way. The cream rises to the top--always has.

MR: Nice. You know, Delbert McClinton is one of my favorite artists, so I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about how he got on this project.

SC: Well, I was afraid that he might not do it. Not that he wouldn't want to, I was just afraid that he wouldn't have time to do it. There were some other artists that would have been great on this album, but they were out on tour or in the middle of another album and just couldn't do it. The day Delbert came, I don't think he was feeling so good, but he just championed it. He came to the front and sang with us live, and it was just incredible. He and I do some charity things around Nashville from time to time. He's been a great friend through the years, and it's always fun to see him.

MR: I got introduced to him on Saturday Night Live. What an amazing artist he was and is.

SC: He's something else, isn't he? He's just so true, and so real--he's exactly who he is. When he sings, nobody sounds like Delbert.

MR: And nobody plays like you, sir. By the way, let's spend a second talking about the Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere albums. How did this combo come together?

SC: I guess the way that we got connected was through The Northwest All-Stars. That band had gone out on a tour with Ringo, and they were in need of a guitar player. I don't know exactly who came up with my name, but somebody called me and said, "Hey, we've got this thing we're doing with The Northwest All-Stars." It was just more fun than you could shake a stick at, and it's too bad that that band couldn't have toured because people would have loved it. We were playing corporate stuff for Northwest for one hundred fifty to two hundred people--I think we did something like twenty-one shows. Through that connection, somebody said, "You know Felix, you and Cropper should get together and make a record." I went to Jon Tiven again, and his suggestion was that we just go over to his place and write. We met about once a week and wrote all these songs, and finally Jon said, "If I could get you guys a record deal, would you be willing to put an album together with these songs?" We just kind of looked dumbfounded, but he went to work and found us a deal. So, we had a record deal, and the record did well enough to have a second record. We had a good time doing that.

MR: One more thing that I want to mention here is that you were inducted into the Songwriter's Hall Of Fame in '05.

SC: Yeah, that was an honor I didn't think I would get, and I wasn't concerned about it so much. I think about a year later, they actually inducted Felix again, and that was pretty cool. Then, last year I was inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame, which is also a pretty big honor.

MR: Well, it definitely speaks to how classic your material is and that you've contributed to the culture.

SC: I'm glad I'm still around to get them, you know? A lot of these things come posthumously, and I hope I have most of them done before that happens.

MR: (laughs) Will you be touring for this album?

SC: We don't know. I've got tours already lined up that were booked far in advance, and I'm going over to do The Animals again. Now, this is the original Animals, and they tour England and all around Europe. I did it with them once before, I forget how many shows, but it went over great and we had a good time. We're going out at the end of August through September. It's all on The Animals' website. Then, I leave the first of July with The Blues Brothers again--I think this will be twenty-three years in a row, if I'm not mistaken. We do a lot of songs from the albums, the movies and so forth, but it's really not about Jake and Elwood, it's about the band, even though we do carry two singers. Eddie Floyd was with us for sixteen or seventeen years. We opened up with Blues Brothers stuff, then we'd do the Stax show with Eddie Floyd, followed by a finale of more Blues Brothers stuff. Duck Dunn and I are going to do the Canadian Jazz Festival this year, and I think we're going to do B.B. King's.

MR: Are you taking Dylan LeBlanc on that Blues Brothers tour with you?

SC: No, I wish I could. Dylan has his own career going, so he's doing his own thing, but he will be doing that show with us on the 14th, which is special. If the album makes some noise and gets accepted, we'll try to go out and do stuff. There are so many artists on there that it would be very difficult to put a tour of the album together, but we might put one together to promote the album, yeah. I'll be talking it up and promoting it as I'm out there as well, and maybe play a song or two from it. We'll see what happens.

MR: Also, I have to ask you two tabloid questions. One is, what's your favorite song of all time?

SC: I've been asked that all my life--it would be unfair. Usually it's the one I'm listening to (laughs).

MR: I like that.

SC: If I play it two times in a row, then it's my favorite for that day.

MR: Okay, and your favorite guitar?

SC: Well, again, my favorite guitar is the one I'm playing (laughs).

MR: Oh, man.

SC: I've retired a few of them--one of them I played for fourteen years. That guitar was made by Jim Decola by Peavy guitars. The one I'm playing now was given to me on my 60th birthday, and I've been playing that one now for eight or nine years.

MR: Steve, it's been an honor to have you.

SC: My pleasure. You've got a great audience out there, and I appreciate all the help, Mike.

1. Thirty Second
2. Don't Be Ashamed
3. Baby Don't Do It
4. Dedicated to the One I Love
5. My Sugar Sugar
6. Right Around the Cornet
7. Help Me Somebody
8. I Do
9. Messin' Up
10. Say It
11. The Slummer the Slum
12. Someone Made You for Me
13. Think
14. Come On & Save Me
15. When I Get Like This

Transcribed by Ryan Gaffney


A Conversation with Gomez's Tom Gray

Mike Ragogna: Tom, how are you?

Tom Gray: I'm very well, how are you doing?

MR: Doing well. Let's talk about your new album, Whatever's On Your Mind. It's been a while since the last one, hasn't it?

TG: A couple of years, yeah.

MR: So, what have you been up to in the past couple of years?

TG: Well, we spent a long period of time touring for the last record, I suppose. We also spent a large amount of time working on writing this one.

MR: What is normally the process when you're creating a new album?

TG: It's a little strange these days. Because all of the guys live on different corners of the globe, we have to be a little bit more clever about it. We have an FTP site and we all post things to each other. They sort of become these musical chain letters that get posted around the world. Everyone, sort of, gets to put in their two pence and change it if they want to or rewrite it if they want to. Finally, we decide if we all like it or not and we record it. That's kind of how it works.

MR: Cool. One of the tracks on this newest album that you had a heavier hand in hands all was the title track, "Whatever's On Your Mind."

TG: That's right

MR: Can you tell us about it?

TG: The song is essentially about the person that you love giving too much of themselves to others, and you selfishly asking them to stop it because they're not leaving enough of themselves for you. And, you know, I've found myself in that position a few times over the years...with members of my family as well as partners and friends. If you're a good person and you know good people, you're inevitably going to find people who are altruistic to their own detriment. Maybe I'm just a selfish bastard, but if you can't see them or find them because they're so devoted to everything else that they're doing, that's tough.

MR: Since you guys are all scattered about the world, how do you get together to record? Do you get together at all?

TG: Eventually, we do. After we've spent a lot of time listening to the things that we've sent each other electronically, we gather it all together, decide which ones we like, then make plans to get started recording. This time, we went to Virginia, into the woods. You have to find someplace that's neutral for everybody, you know? So, no New York or LA or England or anything, no one was on their home turf. No distractions from family or anything like that. From there, we started arranging the 15 songs that we hand-picked for the record, and then went in to record them. That was it, really. It went pretty fast once we got together--I think the whole record was done in under 3 or 4 weeks.

MR: How quickly, then, do you go about planning live performances or tours and things like that? Is that something that you leave up to your management and the record company?

TG: Inevitably, you have to leave a lot of that up to them. But, or course, we're involved in all of the decision making and speak directly to the fans through Facebook and sites like that. We also do everything we can to go out and meet people and put our music in front of them. The thing is, if there's any difficulty for a band like Gomez, it's that we've been around so long that it's almost a different ballgame to get people interested, you know? It's like, "Here's another Gomez record. There you go." But we certainly shout about it.

MR: Do you have any advice for new artists?

TG: Be lucky. (laughs) That's about it, really.

MR: Do you feel Gomez has been lucky?

TG: Oh, very. We're still doing it. Most of the people we started with aren't doing it anymore or couldn't do it anymore.

MR: Who were some of your contemporaries?

TG: Oh, gosh. Well, The Beater Band was definitely a contemporary of ours. There was also The Super Fairies. Gosh, I'm trying to think back to the late '90s. (laughs) There were so many. There is a huge crop of British indie bands that I have no idea where they are now.

MR: One of the songs on this new album is called "Options," do you feel that there so many more options for new artists in the music industry these days as opposed to when you were just starting out?

TG: I don't know. I think you're looking at a smaller and more mercenary industry. With all the talk about avenues of self-promotion, the truth is that most things are still controlled by corporations whether we like it or not. So, for a new artist to break through, I don't know what to suggest apart from being highly original. Even then, you're going to need to catch someone's attention. I don't see how it can happen. I don't mean to be cynical or dark about it, but I just can't see it. I have pity for the generation that came after the Internet in that respect. People like us, who really had a career before the Internet, blew up and still have a career, in a way, whereas, now it's a lot more difficult.

MR: Do you think that's because of the saturation, via the Internet, of everyone having music out there?

TG: Well, there's always been a saturation of music out there. I think, now more than ever, it has to do with the instant availability of it--the wealth of music. (laughs) It's funny, in the UK, we have Spotify. I'm sure you have similar things in America, and I can listen to what I want whenever I want. At the same time, I can skip over anything I want. It seems that there's no sense of occasion getting an album out anymore.

MR: True. It's a musical attention deficit disorder where you run the risk of being someone's favorite for only a minute, even if your music is fantastic, because there is so much of it about and readily available.

TG: Sure, that's it. We're living in an era where it's hard to be a gentle artist anymore. You've got to be a pretty tough cookie these days to stick it out.

MR: Nicely put. I know sometimes artists are quiet about having a favorite on an album, but is there one on this album that you would consider a favorite?

TG: Probably the two that took me the longest to write and were the most gratifying when I finally completed them--"Whatever's On Your Mind" and "Our Goodbye."

MR: Great. Is there anything on the horizon for Gomez that we should keep an eye open for?

TG: Well, we begin a tour of the US in July. That's fairly important. (laughs) And we'll be at a few festivals in the near future as well. Most importantly, the new album is out.

MR: And you guys are already thinking about the next one, aren't you.

TG: Oh, yeah.

MR: Great. Tom, I appreciate your taking time out of your schedule for this chat and good luck with the new album.

TG: Thanks very much, Mike. Take care mate.

(NOTE: Release Date is June 21 on ATO)

1. Options
2. I Will Take You There
3. Whatever's On Your Mind
4. Just As Lost As You
5. The Place And The People
6. Our Goodbye
7. Song In My Heart
8. Equalize
9. That Wolf
10. X-Rays

Transcribed by Evan Tyrone Martin