The Recording Academy Texas Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road At Austin City Limits Music Festival during the festival's 10th anniversary from Sept. 16–18 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including British pop/rock five-piece Gomez and country rock singer/musician Sara Hickman.
Gomez bassist Paul Blackburn and guitarist Tom Gray discussed their songwriting process, the biggest moments of their career and musical influences.
"We never get stuck in a formulaic process," said Gray regarding songwriting. "That's part of what we're about — avoiding formula and avoiding cliché and genre as a band."
Formed in 1996 in Southport, England, Gomez consists of Ian Ball (vocals/guitar), Blackburn, Gray, Ben Ottewell (vocals/guitar), and Olly Peacock (drums). The band's debut album, 1998's Bring It On, earned them the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for album of the year. That same year Gomez made their U.S. debut on tour opening for Eagle-Eye Cherry. Their sophomore effort, 1999's Liquid Skin, went platinum in England and made the Top 30 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart. Several albums followed, 2002's In Our Gun, 2004's Split The Difference and 2006's How We Operate, the latter two garnering the band two consecutive spots on the Bilboard 200. Three years later Gomez released A New Tide, which shot to No. 5 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart and the band was described by Paste magazine as having yet to "succumb to anything resembling blandness." Gomez' most recent release, 2011's Whatever's On Your Mind, was co-produced by Phantom Planet's Sam Farrar and peaked in the Top 40 on Billboard's Rock Albums chart.
Hickman discussed her musical beginnings, using music for advocacy, her experience as a member of the Texas Chapter Board, and advice for aspiring musicians.
"I love GRAMMY U," said Hickman. "I feel like we really serve a need that's underserved here in Texas and across the nation."
A founding member of the Texas Chapter, Hickman is a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. She received a bachelor of arts degree in painting from the University of North Texas before releasing her debut album, 1988's Equal Scary People. The following year Hickman landed a recording contract with Elektra Records and the label reissued the album. Her sophomore effort, 1990's Shortstop, featured the Billboard Adult Contemporary hit "I Couldn't Help Myself." In 1994 Hickman released the fan-funded Necessary Angels. Several albums followed, including 1998's Two Kinds Of Laughter and 2000's Spiritual Appliances, the latter of which spotlighted Hickman as producer. Hickman's latest studio release is 2010's Absence Of Blame. Aside from music, Hickman is involved with numerous charities, addressing issues such as abused and neglected children, breast cancer research, AIDS, women's issues, and homelessness.
Come back to GRAMMY.com next week for more exclusive backstage interviews from GRAMMYs On The Road At Austin City Limits.
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