Iwan Gronow

Johnny Marr cohort bids for solo stardom

Who they?

With high-profile TV performances on Jools Holland and Jimmy Fallon, songwriter Iwan Gronow is the most famous person you don’t know. And now he’s gone out on a limb by releasing his debut solo EP, helpfully called ‘Out On A Limb’.

Why Iwan Gronow?

What a story. Gronow might still be a grunge kid rocking to Sonic Youth in his native Cornwall if it wasn’t for a fortuitous move to Manchester at the turn of the millennium. When gigging with his band Haven, named after the holiday resort, he bumped into former Smiths manager Joe Moss. Moss introduced the band to Johnny Marr, sparking a partnership that would lead to support slots, Marr on production duties, and, since 2013, Marr taking on Gronow as his bass man – hence the big TV gigs. Yet despite twanging his four strings for rock royalty, Gronow’s long-awaited solo material feels surprisingly personal as he explores his overactive imagination. “It’s about the spinning cogs of the mind,” explains Gronow, “some of which go too fast and some that just won’t stop spinning. When you’re working on a song, it can take over your mind completely.”

Tell us more…

‘Out On A Limb’ takes its musical cues from Gary Numan, Depeche Mode and XTC, but also from Gronow’s own past, especially for the title track. “It definitely comes from my youth, when I was obsessed with the grunge scene while growing up,” says Gronow. “Lyrically, it’s about taking a chance. I think we’re all out on a limb every now and again.” He’s still taking those chances, and has recently been writing with bassist Tom Chapman, Hooky’s replacement in New Order. As his solo career soars, Gronow is not so much out on a limb as rising head and shoulders above the rest.

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