When I met Tom Findlay of Groove Armada at a Café in W1 earlier this week, it was hard to imagine that a man with such a healthy and young appearance could have been caught up in such a cut-throat industry for a decade. He’s the sort of chilled out geezer who would fit seamlessly into your own set of mates, with a relaxed and genuinely friendly demeanour. But somehow it’s true. The interminably likeable Groove Armada is 10 years old.
To celebrate this fairly unusual achievement, Groove Armada are releasing not one, but two albums – another ‘Best Of’ and ‘GA10’ which puts a new flex on old tunes and also includes, as yet, unreleased material. With this news, the more paranoid fans amongst us might be forgiven for thinking that this is the beginning of the end for the band.
TF: If you had asked me that question a couple of years ago, I might have agreed with you but actually right now there is a lot of energy around the band. A while back we lost our rhythm section to Faithless. It was a totally amicable split and things like this constantly happen in live music, but it actually worked well for us because this new band we have got around us are so, kind of, up for it and they haven’t been playing our tunes for 10 years so there is a real freshness about the sound. You can’t help but be affected by that enthusiasm. They are all brilliant musicians.
OD: It must be hard working with the same people for such a long period, especially the ones closest to you.
TF: It is, but me and Andy (Cato) are getting on better than we ever have done. This probably has something to do with the fact that we live in different countries (Andy is now based in Barcelona) so we aren’t with eachother constantly. It just feels like there is a lot of positivity around at the moment.
OD: So on the back of this you are releasing not one but two albums. I sense however that you are particularly excited about ‘GA10’?
TF: Yeah, the greatest hits is a revamping of something we did a few years back with 4 or 5 of the hits from the ‘Soundboy Rock’ album. But GA10 is a double album. One is totally down tempo and the other represents our more dancey tracks. GA10 is the result of me and Andy choosing the tracks that we think best define the ten years of Groove Armada. The great thing about it, is that it’s got so much variety. There are not only lots of favoured remixes of our tracks but also some of the best remixes that we have done for other bands. We haven’t put stuff like the original version of ‘At The River’ on because if you haven’t heard that by now then you probably aren’t into Groove Armada anyway. Instead, we’ve included stuff like a Charles Webster remix, which I love and just gone for a bit more of that ‘Back To Mine/Another Late Night’ mix vibe, which we really like. I have to say that I got quite emotional when we were putting it together. The greatest hits album makes me proud, but GA10 makes me feel really emotional.’
OD: And there is some other new material on there also? What stands out for you?
TF: Yeah, there’s a track on there called ‘Drop That Panel’. It used to be called ‘Drop That Thing’ . We did the tune in memory of a gig we played at The Roundhouse, where the bass we played was so loud that a panel fell down from the ceiling, smashing our computer and nearly killing Andy! We should be suing The Roundhouse and retiring but we let them off the hook!
OD: My god! But you have somehow made it through ten years in the industry and I have to say that you are looking remarkably fresh and young for it. You have obviously kept your feet on the ground despite your massive success. Did you do the rock and roll thing at all?
TF: Well, in between touring we keep ourselves fit and I still play football twice a week. It’s been a mad decade but actually the last couple of years have been some of the most exciting times for me personally. I do remember the first time we went to Ibiza and met Zoe Ball which was when it all really started for us. Then the next 4 or 5 years were a total haze which I can’t really remember, but in the last couple of years we have played the Hollywood Bowl and done ‘A Song 4 Mutya’, which has been the biggest record we have ever made in the UK and also ‘Get Down’ which has got that same sort of basement driven, booty rumping, shaking sound as ‘Superstylin’, which we never thought we would be able to reproduce.
OD: It really has been a long journey but, despite the ‘haze’, can you pinpoint your favourite gig to date?
TF: You know, of all the gigs we have done, my most satisfying was probably the last Love Box (Groove Armada’s acclaimed yearly 2 day festival) . It’s been a really great event over the years, but it’s such a stressful thing running Love Box. It’s 364 days of total stress and a huge responsibility pulling it together but we had the honour of closing the show on the Sunday and really nailed it, which felt very good.
OD: And what is your favourite ever GA song if you had to pick?
TF: I think I would have to say ‘Chicago’ from our first album ‘Vertigo’. We have just done a new version of it for live performances and I just really like playing it. I’m just proud of it as a song and never get tired of listening to it.
OD: It doesn’t get annoying!
TF: Yeah, I mean songs like ‘If Everybody Looked The Same’ was perfect for the time it was made in the whole big-beat era, but it doesn’t quite have the same lasting quality as something like ‘Chicago’ which is just a really great funky track.
OD: I’ll stop asking you for your favourite this and that in a sec but tell me first who you would still like to collaborate with, given the chance.
TF: I love Brian Eno and all the stuff he did with with Roxy Music. I keep seeing his name popping up in credits for different acts. He makes great music but not so cool that it’s up its own arse. I don’t know what the collaboration would be but it would be good to work with him, he’s brilliant.
OD: So in general, where do you want to take the music of Groove Armada now? What’s next?
TF: I suppose that the moment where disco turns into house is where me and Andy share the greatest passion. But even after 10 years, I want to keep honing a sound and get more energy on stage. I want to get some more guitars into our music to create that energy. I love the energy that someone like Klaxons have on stage for example. We’ve got the tour coming up and then we may release three or four tracks in the summer. We’ve finished our contract with Sony and are footloose and fancy-free again. We might even go down the Radiohead route and release some tracks online. Sony were great for us and are all genuinely nice people. But moving away from a major means that we can do whatever we like now.
OD: And where will you be in ten years?
TF: That’s a terrifying question! I really like to feel as if I know where things are going musically otherwise it’s a bit scary. But for the next five years at least we have our aims mapped out. In ten years time who knows. I actually think that one day I would like to give it all up and become a primary school teacher.
TF: Yeah, I really love kids and have my own now. I’d never give up my studio and love engineering but the maybe one day I’ll retire and work on some kind of concept album whilst teaching. I’d never go into to secondary school though – that’s far too much like hard work!
‘GA10’ will be released on 12th November and the new ‘Greatest Hits’ album shortly afterwards.
You can also find details of their upcoming tour at link
GA at a Glance
What Colour is GA Music? Turquoise or possibly Pink
Roy Ayers or Curtis Mayfield? Curtis – grappled with some serious issues
Tea or Coffee? I’m tea but Andy has gone all Barcelona on me and drinks espresso
Jessica Alba Or Angelina Jolie? Angelina Jolie
Live or Recording? Nothing better than something coming together in the studio. Best bit of my job.
Socks or no socks? Socks, I’m English!
Harmony or Anarchy? I’d like to say Anarchy but I’m just not that kind of guy