The Press Article
These are great times for the Britpop-fan. After the magnificant new one from Coldplay, last August, we can expect in just a number of weeks new releases by Suede, Richard Ashcroft and Supergrass. Last one kicks off with 'Life On Other Planets'. So: over to 'Planet Supergrass'.
On 'Planet Supergrass' there's tranquility. Stability at the most. Drummer Danny Goffey and Bass-player Mickey Quinn both became a dad (Quinn for the second time), while Singer Gaz Coombes has had a house built in Brighton for himself and his girlfriend to live together. Above all the group tightly monitors not to have this domestic happiness to be disturbed by band duties: no more killing tour schedules, but a necessary 'Working Holiday' at the Cote d'Azur. Just in case people get lost or something. Which they claim to have been badly on previous album 'Supergrass'.
So near the end of 2001 the band moved to the French South coast, to redirect their musical course and to 'grow tight' again as a band and as friends as well. A 'Working Holiday', so to speak, with Mick putting the focus on the latter of the two words! 'After the last tour we decided to have a short break first, before starting on a new record', a notably revamped Gaz states. ' Then we could choose: a sleazy rehearsal room, OR a nice little French village at the Riviera. Well, what would you do? It was very good and relaxed, though ... maybe a bit too relaxed, more holiday-making than working. We got drunk virtually every night. Litres of red wine passed on. We were watching movies, ate at the most delicious restaurants and had lots of great fun. It took us back to the early days of Supergrass, when we all bunked at the same house in Oxford'. According to Mickey, there wasn't quite a big pressure to write songs and produce for a start. 'We did take acoustic guitars and recording equipment along, but having fun was the main goal. It was also a good way to get rid of the circle recording, touring, recording. In the end we still played about 20 ideas together, of which only 'Can't Get Up' and 'Evening Of The Day' made it on the album. The rest was written back in England'.
'Life On Other Planets' may have seen the light mostly in Britain, the basis was definitely laid in France. There the new direction was discussed, quite necessary after the previous album. Dissatisfaction ruled. Especially on the looseness the band displayed and the haste in which the record was made. 'Life On Other Planets' is much more compact than it's predecessor, with 7 out of 12 songs not crossing the 3-minutes-barrier, while sounding very energetic and driven.. That wasn't the intention, Gaz says:' There was no masterplan or something, but we did think about what we wanted with the new record. Look, the last album did have his good sides, but it had a vibe we didn't feel right with. Something wasn't okay'. Mickey joins in: 'The new songs are a lot better, to start with. The last album wasn't dramatic. I've just listened to it again and it didn't sound as bad as it sounded to me three years ago. And I'm aware of that things always can be better. Even now things aren't perfect'.
Another difference is working with a producer for the first time since 'I Should Coco'. Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air) was hired to do the job, after he unsuccesfully recorded Suede. 'Things have been spoken of in the studio, but not too deep, to prevent striking nerves', Gaz blinkes from behind his sun-glasses.' Danny came up with it again. I saw Brett Anderson (Singer of Suede) the other day and said: Shit man, what are you doing? But he just said the chemistry wasn't there. He also told me he'd recommended us to him. And of course Tony hasn't got a background with bands. Beck is a solo artist and Air is some kind of a concept-act. He's just no used to working with a band and I've got the impression Suede made it hard on him. No, we're different. We're very easy going, without complicated personalities inside our ranks'.
Mick:'Well Gaz, I think you gave Tony several nightmares!'.
Gaz: 'Mmmm, maybe right, hahaha!'.
What does a man like Hoffer add to the Supergrass-sound?
Mick: 'The biggest thing is that we prevented that recording and producing an album became routine. We could have produced this record ourselves again, of course, with taking the risk to repeat yourself and ...'.
Gaz: 'I don't think it would have sounded the same again. It would have become a lot stranger. Tony prevented us from using all possibilities the studio offers. That we kept things open, rather than plugging every space with just another keyboard-riddle or guitar-riff. He also added a certain lofi-feel. He wasn't afraid of using things, which weren't perfect.' It's about the performance, not the perfection of the sound or the individual parts' he said. And he stimulated us to use the sounds of an old 'Prophet' keyboard. That became an important factor. Tony loves sounds. He was always fiddling about with his laptop, looking for new, strange and bizarre sounds'.
The title of the new album pinpoints to the telescope fourth bandmember Rob Coombes (Yes! The brother of ...) often took with him to the studio. There's no need to search for a deeper meaning, Mickey quickly states. 'In France we've seen lots of documentairies about the Cosmos. We've rented loads of boxes. With Rob's thingy we can see the most bizarre things, like Saturns rings, the lines on Jupiter, all fucking amazing! So we got fascinated on everything above us and came up with the title'. Another title, which more or less came 'from the air' is the title of new single'Grace'
Gaz: 'This one came from the daughter of Chris Difford. Part of the record was done in the small studio right behind his home. While recording, we often got visited by his daughters. No, not that kind! They're really sweet children. Kids in the studio just add to the right atmosphere. You can do great jams with them. That's how 'Grace' developed. One of these girls always carried a small moneybox around. 'Save The Money For The Children', it says. One day, Danny came in drunk and started rambling on a piano, shouting all kinds of weird lyrics. So we used the line from the money-box and thought: that will do for a B-side.. But once we started recording it for real, it became better and better and it's even our new single now! Yeah, things can go truly odd'. Indeed! One moment you're a young rookie band and the next a million selling company with growing kids and a family-life to cope with. For Danny things aren't enough, as he's making music (And CD's) with his wife Pearl. What the others think of it? From Mick's corner we hear the sound of vomitting.
Gaz: 'Truly awfull!'. A big burst of laughter clears the mood.
Gaz:' No it's cool. It's really good for Danny. He needs that. He runs over with energy and get's bored soon'.
Mickey: 'And he's sort of scout to us. He's used strings and various producers for his solo-project. This experiences can be used for our records as well'. Gaz and Mickey themselves don't feel the need to do things outside 'Supergrass'.
Mick: 'I Rather go on holidays'.
Gaz: 'I do things with friends as well, Some Brighton bands can need a little hand, when they're in the studio. Or you'll get the offer to work with Dr John for a couple of days. An offer I can't refuse. But I don't feel the urge to start doing something on a serious basis. I still love doing 'Supergrass' the most. I'd rather spent my days off on holidays. Life has much more to offer than just music. I won't alienate from my girlfriend. That's also the reason why were not touring longer than just a few weeks'
Mick: 'And the reason why we probably won't make a major worldwide breakthrough. Some people go all the way, living on the edge, to create incredible music. But we don't work that way. I don't think you have to punish yourself to make great music and to make it big'.
Gaz: 'Just look at people like JJ Cale or Neil Young. They show things can be different. They also have a life besides their music, but keep on making great records. In that perspect, they're a big inspiration for me'.
Leaves the question wether the lads do live without music, while on holiday.
Mickey: ' Yeah, I do. I watch the telly, play with the kids or cut the lawn'.
Gaz: 'Last year, I travelled along the US east-coast for three, four weeks. Doing Highway 1, the coastal road, by car. So cool! I can easily switch between band life and normal life. Too easy, maybe. Though I must admit to have taken demos and ideas for the new record with me. That's one of the reasons that I love 'Evening Of The Day'. I played it in the car regularly, as it fitted the landscape perfectly. I don't think you can totally ban music anyway. It never really leaves your head'.
Mickey: ' Yeah, you're always singing while showering'.
Gaz: 'Well, more like sitting in a jacuzi with mountain-view, thinking: oh well, what can we do with our next album?'.
OOR Magazine (Dutch) - 05 October 2002
Translated by: Leo Hoek van Dijke.