More Cock Than Doodle-Do
Oxford's SUPERGRASS put the POP! into apoplexy and inject hyper-charged glam into the Nineties Brit guitar thrill. Plus! Their second single - and first hit - 'Mansize Rooster' is the most obscenely catchy teenage anthem since 'House Of Fun' or 'Ballroom Blitz'. DAVID BENNUN and EVERETT TRUE get very excited (and very drunk) with the youngest, prettiest, sexiest, cheekiest, finest new band since, since...Menswear. Make-up tips: STEVE GULLICK
"I THINK GOD'S LIVING UNDER MY SINK."
Okay, so Mickey sees God in the plumbing. At all of 24, Mickey is the oldest of Supergrass. Maybe he speaks with greater spiritual wisdom than Danny (20) or Gaz (18).
Gaz: "I reckon He's a black geezer with dreads, a bit wasted."
Danny: "I think He's massive."
Pass the champagne, lads.
Mickey gives Gaz a vigorous slapping for no apparent reason.
Can we have a go?
"Get your own band."
SEX and mascara and drinking cheap brandy/Snogging on buses, unspeakably randy/Staying out all hours until your head rings/These are a few of our favourite things
WE could have gone out and done speedballs that night. Maybe had convulsions outside a club, if we were lucky. But the ambulance crews were getting sick of it, and so were we. Life was becoming too quiet. We needed a new thrill.
Then the new Supergrass single, "Mansize Rooster", arrived. We were singing along in 10 seconds flat. Then came the chorus. F***ing hell, you could have rigged us up to the National Grid with less effect. "On the cover! On the cover now!" we shrieked. We eyed the press photos like the jaded debauchees we are. We saw skinny, shirtless, elfin boys, dolled up to the nines. Mascara running down their cheeks. Necking champagne. Staring us out like they had price lists on their knickers and razors down their socks. We hadn't seen anything like this since "120 Days of Sodom" or, at least, Ben Stud's last soiree. The Marquis de Sade began to beat a tattoo on the inside of our skulls. The B-side came knocking on the outside. Catchy? We'd say. It made Gary Glitter sound like Stravinsky. Kids, we were excited. "On the cover yesterday!" we howled. "Last week!"
We grabbed a crate of champagne from the Maker cellar, flagged down a passing rickshaw and pounded off into the night to meet the boys from Supergrass. Next stop: The stark, seedy studio of Steve "Lipsmacking" Gullick.
THE boys from Supergrass fancy each other. And who can blame them?
"I'd have a sex change if I could go and shag myself afterwards," says Gaz, taking a hefty swig of champagne. We pop open another bottle, demonically intent on plying the lads with liquor. It goes f***ing everywhere.
"If Gaz had a sex change, he'd be all right," Mickey concurs, as a grumbling Gullick mops up around him. "He wore a blonde wig and a beauty spot in the video. He was gorgeous. Couldn't believe it. Bit toothy - but in a Joanna Lumley way."
"They were gasping for it," counters his singer, spliffing up. "They kept touching up my arse in the make-up room."
"I wouldn't kick Danny out of bed if he had a sex change," comments Mickey, over Gullick's dark mutterings, "but I'm not asking him to."
He pauses for unsober reflection. Gullick frets like a fishwife, swabbing away at his new studio floor.
"He'd probably kick me out of bed, though."
Danny: "If I were a girl, I'd fancy Mickey."
Why? (Oh, stop whining, Steve.)
"He'd give me the stability I need."
GOING out evenings and meeting your dealer/Snorting white powder and drinking tequila/Bouncing around like your feet have grown springs/These are a few of our favourite things
PSYCHOTIC and erotic. Supercharged and superfresh. Stomping, brattish pop, slapping you upside the head like it good and ought to. There's crystal meth in their madness. When Supergrass supported Blur at Ally Pally, the rulers of the scene must have felt youth snapping at their heels, 10 years younger, 10 times buzzier. If Blur had been this good when they started, by now we'd be erecting golden statues to them in the squares of market towns. Hell, we'd have founded a new religion: First National Chruch of Damon. (Not that some haven't tried.) But that honour will have to wait for Supergrass. Hit us again, Lord. Please. Thou who gavest us T Rex and early Buzzcocks and every other eye-linered cherry bomb of yesteryear. Hit us.
So. Supergrass: the Glam Rock of the Nineties?
Crucial difference: in the Seventies, all the bands looked like they'd just stepped off a building site. Supergrass, changeling children, have the cheekbones and sex appeal to match their mascara. Mickey: "We're just pretty brickies."
Danny: "I used to be a labourer. It was just a house job, doing fittings for an extension."
Gaz: "And the odd burglary."
It's hard to imagine the slender Danny lifting anything heavier than his eyebrows. Haven't you all given up your day jobs?
Gaz: "Yeah, yeah we have. About six weeks ago. Kitchens, cafes, factories. Danny was a dinner lady."
Did you not feel like some kind of bizarre fetish object? Did you feel emasculated?
Danny: "It was all good, clean, healthy fun. I really liked the atmosphere. No, I didn't give extra portions to the girls I fancied."
Is it easier to pull now that you're no longer working as a labourer or a dinner lady?"
Danny: "Not really. It doesn't happen like that."
Gaz: "We just started off to make music. Later, you notice there are loads of girls at gigs. But that's not what it's about. All we want to do is make mental music and do mental things, and whatever else comes along - man, we'll take it."
What do you class as a mental thing?
Mickey: "We're going to the States in March. That's pretty mental. It gets you out of the house, anyway."
Have you met anyone famous? Apart from Shampoo and Cliff Richard (of whom, more soon).
Danny: "Dennis Healy. We saw him at the bank. And no, I didn't serve him dinner."
SUPERGRASS, Shampoo and Cliff Richard - spot the connection?
All are signed to EMI Records, which august institution held its annual conference in Brighton late last year. We like Brighton. We live there. We have fun. Long, laughter-filled nights of merriment and mayhem. Crazy, hazy, lazy days of summer. But we've yet to have as much fun in our adoptive hometown as Supergrass did that corporate weekend (speak for yourself, Bennun - ET). Their first single, "Caught By The Fuzz", was just out - an autobiographical tale of Bash Street Kids sinking into juvenile delinquency. They fought the law and the law won. Key line, so to speak: "Here comes my mum/She knows what I've done". Oh, the shame.
"It was just a real f***ed night, man," understates Gaz. "We went along and there were all these famous faces - Robert Palmer over in one corner, Cliff Richard in another. Me and Danny stood there with our whiskies: 'What the f***'s going on?' It all got a bit easier as everyone got off their heads. We started to mingle. Radiohead introduced us to Cliff, telling him that we'd got a single out and I was only 18..."
Misty-eyed with a mix of nostalgia and condescension, Cliff mused that he himself had released his first single at the tender age of 17.
"Yeah," Gaz shot back, "but I bet it wasn't about snorting coke."
And did you or did you not cop off with Shampoo?
Gaz: "Shampoo? We love 'em. We f***ed 'em live on telly. No, I personally didn't."
"I don't know. I honestly can't remember from midnight onwards."
As Jimmy Pursey once put it: Tell Us The Truth.
"I've told you the f***ing truth. I can't remember."
That was Ronald Reagan's excuse. He's senile. You're 20.
"I lost touch with Danny about half-11," recalls Gaz. "I saw him again at two in the morning. I said, 'What did you get up to?' He said, 'I don't know. I just woke up in a hotel room with Sean Maguire, with "Home and Away" stickers plastered all over me.'"
"I think I went somewhere with one of Shampoo," concedes Danny.
Danny's unblemished brow furrows in concentration.
"Um, the thinny."
WHEN your mum's out/When your dad's drunk/Put the 'Grass on full/And go and do all of your favourite things/Before you set out on the pull
A FEMALE friend fantasises about being in bed with all three of you at once. "Who's that?" Danny enquires eagerly. "Do you have her phone number?"
Do you think you'd ever do something like that?
Gaz: "What's the horsepower like?"
Mickey: "It's probably better in her head than the harsh reality of actually going to bed with three sweaty musicians."
Gaz: "I'd rather we had three separate beds and each of us went to bed with a separate woman. In the same room. And laughed at Danny afterwards."
Danny looks wounded. "Why would you laugh at me?"
"Dunno," replies Gaz, "you'd just be really funny. We'd probably pick up some tips on sexual technique from each other. I think Mickey'd be best."
"Apparently," reveals Danny, "he's got big balls."
"Have I?" Mickey sounds pleasantly surprised.
You mean you don't know?
"I might have five years' more experience," Mickey allows, "but most of that was spent wanking."
So you've got your wanking technique down then? Both hands, as t'Poo might have it?
"It's something you get with age."
What's your favourite sexual technique?
"Orgasm," decides Mickey. "I do like that."
"Technique?" puts in an enthusiastic Gaz.
"Shoot upwards. Have a bit of a laugh. Funny things happen during sex. Like falling asleep because you're young and tired."
Mickey, it emerges, lost his virginity at the national average (17), Gaz when he was 14 (he also thinks "69" is "quite a nice position"). Danny can't even remember that far back.
"The first girl I ever snogged was probably Natalie Smith," he recalls. "It was behind her house, when I was about eight. Her brother was involved, in the way it works at school. It was a sex training camp. The whole f***ing primary school was at it. You'd practice on your mates' elder sisters...look, can we talk about something else, like the music?"
Oh, for f***'s sake. All right.
"I DON'T understand the New Glam tag at all," grouches Gaz. "There's a lot of ballady, Sixties-type, Beach Boys-style songs on our album. Stuff from different eras. We don't have a defined style."
Wouldn't you like to invent a musical movement?
"Yeah," Danny says, "but it's not the key thing."
"If it's going to happen, it'll happen." Gaz switches into modesty mode. Boo-ring. "But it'd be very pretentious and outrageously confident to claim anything for ourselves. We're not out to create a whole new style of music. We're aware we could disappear overnight. You don't want to start thinking about it too much. It's easy to get drowned in the whole f***ing fame bullshit. Let's not get sucked up into a fantasy world."
No, let's. That's the whole point. So if Supergrass aren't prepared to claim anything for themselves, we'll have to do it for them. Listen to the three songs on "Mansize Rooster" (slogan: "More Cock Than Doodle-Doo"). There's crystal method in their Madness.
The title track mixes up its Glam Rock stomp with the grin-inducing grip of Suggs' bunch at their best - that is, without too much of the knees-up, baggy-trousered, jollification crap. "Sitting Up Straight" is teenage trouble-making incarnate (even if the "obvious" message - what, disobeying teacher? getting off with girls? smoking the surreptitious fag on the school bus? - is rather hidden), while "Odd?" is...odd. Dreamy.
"Dreams are excellent," enthuses Mickey "I write songs in dreams, songs like 'Odd?'. It's based around drowning in the sea."
"I remember pissing in the wardrobe once when I was asleep," Danny says. "Going into my brother's room, opening the wardrobe door and just pissing into it."
Mickey: "I knew this bloke in Brighton who used to stand up in the middle of the night and piss all over his girlfriend in his sleep." (Word's got around, Everett-DB)
Did she chuck him?
"No, she was really into it."
"It's natural man," propounds Gaz. Boo-ring! "Something that we all want to do. Suck it all in, whatever comes. Use the energy."
People form bands for one of three reasons:sex, revenge or escape. Which one's yours?
Gaz: "The third one. It's a way out of washing dishes for the rest of my life."
Danny: "The second. There are a certain few people who I would really like to see having their noses rubbed in our success. That bastard who dissed me when I was 12. That teacher who kept me in detention, seven days a week, for three weeks. If they could see me now..."
Mickey: "It's good fun to f***ing play the Albert Hall, know what I mean?"
DRINKING till eyesight goes blurred at the edges/Losing your way home and sleeping in hedges/Crashing on sofas with unruly springs/These are a few of our favourite things
EVERYBODY we know who's seen and heard Supergrass is salivating over them. Who do Supergrass think is sexy?
"Sheryl Crow," replies Gaz. We choke on our bubbly.
Do you like the Sheryl Crow single?
"I started to like it. I just think she's really f***ing sexy."
You know she's got one leg shorter than the other.
"I don't care. She's well sexy. Looks good with a guitar."
"Kate Bush is quite good," ventures Mickey.
You don't think that these days Kate Bush looks, well, a bit like a dinner lady, with nice earrings?
"Eh?" interjects a puzzled Danny.
"She's defintely sexy," Gaz insists. He will clearly not be swayed.
"Bjork's quite nice," opines Mickey.
With rubber, or without?
"It has nothing to do with rubber."
"I think Noel Gallagher's sexy," reckons Gaz.
Noel? Surely you mean Liam.
"Let's get in a fight about it!" Mickey offers. Then he has a better idea. "Let's get Oasis in and fight them."
No. They'd paste us.
"I think," begins Gaz, taking possession of the champagne bottle," if you're a good musician, that comes across in a sexy way."
What about Whigfield?
"Yeah, she's very sexy." Mickey avers.
"But the songs are a bit annoying." Gaz states the obvious. "If she's the glam of the Nineties, the Nineties are in a bit of a f***ing state. Someone should sort it out."
Isn't that what you're here to do?
Gaz briefly unglues his mouth from the lip of the champagne bottle.
"We'll give it a try."
© David Bennun
& Everett True
Taken from: Melody Maker - 11 February 1995