What Ifs & Maybes

What Ifs & Maybes

Tom Grennan’s second album, 2021’s Evering Road, was the sound of a man closing a chapter in his life. Through the songs, he processed a broken relationship, examining his role in its demise, confronting his unhelpful behaviors, and offering remorse and gratitude as he absorbed the lessons learned. Two years later, Grennan is facing forwards on What Ifs & Maybes. A better man for the experience, he’s been galvanized by a new relationship and the support of family and friends. “At one time, I was messed up,” he tells Apple Music. “I didn’t have any direction. I didn’t know who I was. And then this person, these people, hugged me. I remember going back to my mum’s house. I forgot what living there was like. It’s just pure love. I was like, ‘This is what being out of the dark is like.’ When I’m at home with my missus, for example, everything is calm and cool and I’m not burying myself in the sand. These people are picking me up and going, ‘You can do what you want to do and be who you want to be. Just jump in.’” It’s a spirit of daring and self-realization that he took into writing and recording What Ifs & Maybes. Cross-pollinating funk, rock, pop, soul, gospel, and more on his most vibrant songs to date, Grennan shapes personal experiences into a call for us all to find the confidence to turn moments of uncertainty and hardship into strength. “This whole album is spontaneous,” he says, “and it’s like, ‘Who knows what’s going to happen? But whilst we’re here, let’s enjoy it.’ If you’re going to take a risk or jump into some unknown waters, then it’s going to feel uncomfortable at the start. But being able to feel comfortable in where you’re at is the key to being happy. That’s what I want this album to do for people, because it’s done that for me. I learned that I can be the artist that I want to be and that I’m good enough to write and record a great album.” Here, he guides us through each song. “How Does It Feel” “It’s got pace, it’s got a destination. For me, it’s a passionate, exciting, feel-good song. It’s like a journey. It’s like getting in a car, starting it up, and going, ‘Right, I’m going to pick you up and we’re going to go, and where we end up, who knows? But it’s going to be full of passion, full of fun, and it’s going to be a good time.’ It’s about realizing that I had something good, we had something good, but life sometimes pushes you into another place. But then you go, ‘Oh, hold on a minute. Let’s go revisit that.’” “Remind Me” “I wanted to create this moment where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve missed you. Why haven’t we done this in forever?’ That memory of being with that person or those friends or that family member and going, ‘Life’s good—and life’s good because you’re in it.’ I just wanted to write something that everybody could relate to and everybody could sing—something that is credible enough but also easy enough for people to understand and sing along to.” “Crown Your Love” “I wear a Claddagh ring sometimes and my mum said, ‘Do you know what that Claddagh ring means?’ My dad’s Irish, so I should have known, really. I knew that if you wear it with the heart facing you, it means that you’re taken and your heart belongs to somebody. But if you wear it the other way around, it means that you’re allowing your heart to be opened up for somebody to come and take it. But my mum then told me it means, ‘Hold your heart in my hands and crown your love forever.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god. Mum, I think you’ve just written a song.’ I jotted it down in my phone and then months later, I was in the studio with some good friends and we were going through songs and nothing was landing. I was like, ‘I’ve got this lyric that my mum wrote…’” “Here” “A friend sent me the skeleton of this. It was like, ‘I’ve got this idea. Obviously, you’re writing an album at the moment and I hear you on this.’ I listened to it and I was like, ‘This is exactly what and where I am in life right now.’ So then I went into the studio and I did my thing, to write what I needed to write for it to make sense for me. It’s a little hand on my own shoulder. It’s that ‘what ifs and maybes’ thing: You can dream, you can be who you want to be, and I’ll back my own corner. I’ll always be here for myself and I’ll always dream, and I’ll always figure things out on my own. I love other people [being] there to push me and direct me, but the only way I can get to somewhere in life is if I put my mind to it.” “Before You” “This is the first song that was written for the album and it was the DNA of the album: the tempo and what it was going to sound like and be about. It says what it is on the tin: ‘Before you, things were pretty shit. Things were just a bit all over the place. There wasn’t much direction in life. But now that I’ve got you, now that I’ve something to look forward to and somewhere to put all my energy, things are good.’” “Sleeping Rough” “What if I sleep out rough, literally, and if I wait in this same position and this same place, will you notice me again? And maybe if you do, then we can go and conquer our own little world. The whole song, this story, is going, ‘I’ll do anything in my power for you to notice me again.’ I don’t care if it’s raining, I don’t care if it’s snowing, I don’t care if it’s 40 degrees outside. I’ll wait and I’ll hold up a sign and then I’ll do everything I can for you to notice me again.” “This Side of the Room” “I think this the best song I’ve ever written. It’s more like a film for me. It’s very visual. It’s about being OK with watching someone or something that you’ve let go move on. But also being like, ‘I’m actually going to make sure that you notice that I’m here still, too,’ just going, ‘Shit, I’ve lost it and I’m not really over you.’” “Psychedelic Kisses” “I realized that I was definitely moving into a different sound from what my first album was, and definitely from what my second album was. I had fans in my head and I was like, ‘I don’t want to let the people down.’ I looked at all of the songs that I’ve released and I was like, ‘What can I do to give those songs a nod, but also have the feeling that I’ve definitely got better and matured?’ Then I was like, ‘Right, I need to talk about something [the people who have been there for him from day one].’ ‘Psychedelic Kisses’ was that song. It gives me nostalgic feelings of what the first album was but shows me that there’s been so much growth since then.” “All These Nights” “It’s fun. It makes me feel good and gets people dancing—got me dancing when I wrote it. It was one of the first songs that we did for the album too, just going, ‘Shit, man, we’re onto something good here.’ It’s celebrating the people [that are good for me] in my life.” “Problems” “It’s one of those ones where, again, I’m talking about my situation and saying, ‘Sometimes in life, you meet people and even if you let things go, you’ll always find a way back to being together.’ The world works in a crazy way sometimes. Sometimes people are meant to be together even if there’s a little bump in the road. There’ll always be a way that you’ll find each other again. There’s a little influence of Queen in there with the pre-chorus. I just wanted a feel-good song.” “Head Up” “It’s a celebration, again, of people in my life that I love, and that’s friends, that’s family, that’s my missus, that’s everybody. It says what it is on the tin: ‘You keep my head up, above the water/Sometimes it feels like you’re fighting the tide, scared to fall in love with the person you find/But I met love/And she keeps my head up.’ It’s being confident and being so certain that you are one of these people who keep me up and I’m celebrating that.” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” “That gospel flavor…it’s a song that makes me put my hands up to the sky and go, ‘Yeah, man! Things are going to be OK!’ Just be confident in what you’ve decided to do and where to go in life, and when love comes in, just enjoy it because it doesn’t cost one little dime.” “Someone I Used to Know” “Sometimes you want to get to a destination and other people will try to distract you or they won’t want you to get there. Unfortunately, I’m talking about friends and stuff, and sometimes you’ve got to make a choice. Some people are meant to be in your life forever and some people are just meant to be on the journey for a little while. I think that’s a part of growing up. There was a moment where I had to realize that one of my best friends was…we weren’t good for each other. There’s no bad blood. But it’s one of those ones where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I used to know you so well and now you’re a stranger.’ But I’m OK with that. I think I’m a stranger for that person too, and I think that person’s OK with that too. That’s just the way life works. At the time, I did struggle with getting to grips with, ‘Oh my god, where’s my best mate gone?’” “You Are Not Alone” “It’s a cuddle, this song. In all honesty, it was written for a film but because of timings and schedules, it never did actually make it onto the film. It became a big conversation: ‘Are we even going to release it now?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, we are, because I think people need this song and I think lyrically, it can help a lot of people out.’ It’s that arm over the shoulder, just saying, ‘You feel things are sometimes a bit mad, but you’re not alone in it. Talking about it and opening up is how you get things off your chest.’” “Unbreak a Broken Love” “It’s that kind of song that, again, is like, ‘Oh my god, I realized that I let something good go.’ I realized that I needed to get my shit together. I needed to go on a little debrief for myself. I needed to just find my feet in life again, and then I had to put in the work to find the person I needed to find.” KSI (feat. Tom Grennan), “Not Over Yet” “KSI was an interesting one because he’s doing everything and he’s still able to make music too. He inspired me a little bit with what I’m saying about my album, with spontaneity and feeling comfortable in uncomfortable places. KSI jumps into so many different waters and finds a way to swim every time. He’s a good guy.” Tom Grennan & Joel Corry, “Lionheart (Fearless)” “I’ve always got on really well with Joel and he had always said he’d love to work with me. It’s about strength and having the heart to do what you want to do. The whole album is that: You can do what you want to do, you can be who you want to be, and you can dream as big as you want to dream. Just go out and have the confidence to do it.”

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