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Gaz Coombes from Supergrass

You don't have to be an avid musicologist to pick Gaz Coombes'influences.
Listen to any of the three Supergrass albums - I Should Coco, In It for the Money and most recently, Supergrass - and you'll realise there's a generous dose of Sgt. Peppers and Ziggy Stardust sprinkled throughout. Coombes, a young, gentle, softly-spoken, self-confessed "normal guy", is okay with that though. He believes there's something very grown-up about knowing where you've come from. "Without looking back to your roots of music you won't be able to make your own music," he says. "But at the same time I also like the spontaneity, the sort of not thinking about it. I remember really getting into the Beach Boys about a year ago. When I'd get up to write songs I'd start at the piano, but six months before, I would have started it on the guitar. It just happens without you knowing and then all of a sudden you realise you've been influenced by something. When that happens we usually throw it away."

David Bowie
Aladdin Sane (Virgin 1973)
"It's a real toss-up between The Man Who Sold the World and Aladdin Sane. The Man Who Sold the World is a really weird sounding album. It's really dark and quite scary and intimidating. But Aladdin Sane has got great rock & roll songs. The piano playing is really cool in it too. Probably if I was to take one on holiday to Australia, it'd be Aladdin Sane. I think Bowie and the records that he made and how prolific he was and the style he had was pretty amazing. That's what makes you want to make really interesting records, listening to him or the Beatles."

Revolver (Capitol 1966)
"It's so hard to describe the sound of it. It sounds really sharp, really fresh. 'Taxman' is just great. 'Got To Get You Into My Life' and "Tomorrow Never Knows' just have the most amazing sounds. It's not just the sounds, it's the songwriting too. There was so much standard rock & roll going on at that time and then suddenly the Beatles did that record. I love the splitting of the instruments in the studio, too. We've tried it: you know, we've put the guitar in there and put the keyboards in that side and the drums in that side and we've never really got it to work. It's dead tricky to get right."

Stevie Wonder
Innervisions (Motown 1973)
"I probably heard it for the first time five or six years ago. I didn't ever own it until I bought it about three years ago. It has so many strong songs, there isn't one song that lets it all down. It's just really great songwriting and amazing songs. 'Superstition' is the famous one, but it's famous for a reason. It's just a really great tune. 'Living For the City' is pretty cool too. The whole album has got such an up-vibe with great lyrics."

Beach Boys
Pet Sounds (Capitol 1966)
"Pet Sounds almost made me cry when I first heard it. It's amazing. That's something that really blows me away, man. After reading the biography - Wouldn't It Be Nice - and going back and listening to it and knowing what he [Brian Wilson] was on about, you realise there's just so much meaning. There's more meaning in Pet Sounds than we could ever generate out of our records together, ever. It just sort of makes you think. It's almost depressing sometimes. You feel really small compared to Pet Sounds."

Bob Marley
Exodus (Tuff Gong 1977)
"What a great record! I've been listening to it loads recently and I've just noticed the sounds in it. I recently bought some new speakers. I spent a bit of cash on them and got soem really decent ones and I've been playing Exodus and turning it up really loud and it sounds incredible. I remember sitting there listening to it and saying to my girlfriend recently, 'Fucking hell, listen to this. It's fucking brilliant!' It's just amazing. It's so pure. It's so smooth. It makes me smile and I love records that make me smile."

Curtis Mayfield
People Get Ready! The Curtis Mayfield Story (Rhino 1996)
"The box set starts from the Impressions and then it works its way through to the mid-80s. Stuff like 'Mother's Son', which is an absolutely beautiful song and 'Kung Fu'. His guitar work has a big influence on some of my playing, especially when I play my little delicate bits. The love he projected and the peace ... it's not like being a hippy, it's more that he was just a really peaceful man. He just wanted us to love each other. Obviously he was really political as well. It's just pure soul. It really does get down inside you and tugs away at you."

The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses (Silvertone 1989)
"The Stone Roses signifies a pretty major time in my life. That was when we started playing music loads more. You know, going up to Manchester to see the Happy Mondays and the Inspiral Carpets. The whole thing sort of inspired you to be in a band. I still listen to it now and it doesn't seem to have dated in any way. Stuff that comes out of scenes like Manchester can be easily dated later on. Again, really great songs. The structures of songs like 'I am the Resurrection' - and all the guitaring in that particular song - is amazing. The band had great characters as well. It was this really cool band with this 'Fuck you' attitude."

Ian Dury
New Boots and Panties (Edsel 1977)
"I love New Boots and Panties on vinyl actually. It's really, really well produced. He's such a great lyricist. His words on song like 'Wake Up and Make Love to Me' and 'Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll' are just great. You've got this cockney geezer singing, 'Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll' with this really tight band in the background that had such tight drumming and amazing guitar. Occasionally Ian Dury sings really well too, so it ends up being a real mixture of great melodies and strong tunes."

Frank Zappa
Hot Rats (Ryko 1969)
"Hot Rats is mainly an instrumental album and for that it's brilliant. All the melodies and missing vocals are carried off with strange instruments like synthesised trumpet sounds. It's also kind of rock & roll as well, which is weird. It'll go into this really rock & roll bit where the guitars really scream out. It's really disjointed, but I love it as well. Also to be able to keep the listener interested on an instrumental album is quite hard."

Happy Mondays
Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches (Elektra 1990)
"Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches is probably one of the most underrated albums. It really should be perceived as a classic album. Maybe it is. But there are aspects to the Happy Mondays that make me think that they weren't a classic band. They never really seemed to be that solid. I never really got a vibe that they'd be a long lasting classic band. I just think that album is a classic. The sounds on it are really clear and clean."

Rachel Newman, Rolling Stone (Australian edition) - May 2000