"I reckon it's still like 80 per cent of people come and watch me play because of Gomez."
When Ben Ottewell, the gruff-voiced singer from indie-rock stalwarts Gomez, calls in from his Brighton home it's about 8 in the morning. With a wife and three kids at home, 8am would be a veritable sleep-in for the Englishman, if it weren't for the rigours of touring.
"Normally I would have been up for like three hours with the kids and stuff but I'm halfway through a tour so I'm a little sketchy," Ottewell laughs. "I'm making coffee with an AeroPress, it's like a big syringe that you make coffee with. You don't need them, you guys have good coffee everywhere in Australia. It's getting better here, mostly because of all the Australians."
"People try to catch you out by calling out something a little bit obscure, you know. They're the sort of fans that I have."
When Gomez formed in 1996 from a bunch of old friends and university acquaintances, the planets aligned and placed the five-piece on a short road to success. Eternal crowd favourite Get Myself Arrested was the flagship of first album Bring It On, which dropped in 1998. It was the year Massive Attack gifted the world Mezzanine, Pulp proffered This Is Hardcore, and The Verve gave us Urban Hymns. But when it came to the Mercury Prize Award, none of them beat Gomez's debut.
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After years of touring and a bunch of equally as mesmerising albums, and with adoring fans in thrall, Gomez's hiatus is still a sore spot for many. Having released two solo albums to much adulation, is it possible to shake the band's presence when Ottewell is out on his own?
"I don't know really, I reckon it's still like 80 per cent of people come and watch me play because of Gomez," he admits. "But the thing is, Gomez was very ubiquitous at one point so I don't mind it at all.
"The thing is I'm really proud of those tunes and they're just as much a part of me as some of the others. It's always interesting for me to play some of the songs the other guys sang. Some of the tunes I just don't remember! People try to catch you out by calling out something a little bit obscure, you know. They're the sort of fans that I have."
Ottewell hasn't ruled out a Gomez comeback for insatiable fans but for now he's enjoying creating riff-heavy, bluesy croons via his solo work, with a new album on the way after a gig-filled year. But the same old trials of writing and performing remain.
"I still have the same day-to-day struggle," Ottewell laughs. "I'm essentially still writing from the same place. It's like flexing that muscle again and trying to work it out. It sounds really clichéd and a bit Keith Richards but I just let songs come to me. There's no real rhyme or reason to it.
"But there's a certain kind of honesty in playing acoustic, which I really relish, it's quite a beautiful thing really. Or it can be, sometimes it's horrible. But most of the time I manage to pull it off. There's nowhere to hide, which is a good thing."