The Press Article
"We're quite serious in a strange way"
You can say it's been going all right from the start for Supergrass. The former Teletubbies of Britpop scored a fistfull of hits, sold millions of their first two CD's (both platinum) and stole the hearts from the audiences with fresh, energetic performances (recently their third appearance at Lowlands Festival). This summer the single 'Pumping On Your Stereo' announced the third Supergrass album. A record that should give the band a more serious image, despite the funny 'Pumping' video.
For weeks even the British weather has been warm and dry, but when we join Supergrass on a boat trip along the Thames in Oxford in earlyAaugust, of course, temperatures drop and it starts to rain. The initial boat trip is cancelled, but the alternative - lunch with singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes, drummer Danny Goffey and bass player Mickey Quinn at the local pub- is of course tempting as well. Lunch with Supergrass.
The people at 'The Kings Arms' barely look up from their plates piled up with chips and sausages, when the trio sits down. Just a few 'local lads' are looking and pointing towards the band, which started here in 93 and scored some 5 hit singles in England alone. "Yeah, I still drop by occasionally," says Gaz. "My brother, parents and other relatives all live in Oxford. I'm just not around as much as my parents would like me to be."
Having lunch with Supergrass is great, having a beer at one in the afternoon, but slightly less useful as it comes to conducting an interview. You'll easily get answers like: "Uh, the last two years?...crunch crunch.. Yeah... burk... bought a house... crunch crunch... in Brighton...and uh... watched the soccer World Cup of cours"' (Gaz), or "Made an album... (swallowing sounds)... watched the World Cup... and oh yeah, becoming a dad as well" (Danny). Fortunately enough time before and after the meal is left to get to a decent conversation. About the new, soon to be released Supergrass album for instance, sounding more varied at first glimpse, but also more precarious than it's predecessor 'In It For The Money' from 1997. Gaz: "We've been working on it for about a year. After the 'In It For The Money' tour, we've been taking some distance first, to come together again to discuss music at first. Then we spent two months in a rehearsal room, writing new songs and working on ideas. The usual thing basically."
How exhausting was your last tour?
Mickey: "It could have been worse. You try to keep it interesting, by adding slight changes to the music. Otherwise you'll crack up soon, both psysically and mentally! You constantly try to improve your set, which keeps you going."
Gaz: "And we're keen on not being from home for much longer than 6 weeks. We told the record company years ago, our girlfriends and family are important to us too!"
Danny: "When you're touring, you're totally focussed on the band. Which isn't a bad thing, but at the same time, you tend to miss certain experiences from normal' life. We want to make time to do the things 'normal' people do as well: Going to the pub with friends or spending time with your girlfriend and family."
Ever had the feeling 'real' life is passing by?
Gaz: "Not really. We're not such a hard working, serious band anyway. We tend to take it easy. We're some kind of easy living rock band. We easily could go on tour for a year with the three of us. But only if you're without friends or relatives. You just have to keep them in consideration."
About the new album: Couldn't you come up with a decent title, or...
Danny: "We've come up with millions of titles: Mucho Grande..."
Gaz: "Supergrass Get Lost..."
Mickey: "Electric Ladyboy..."
Danny: "But we couldn't find any word to fit with the complete album. The songs are quite different from each other. We've done several interviews in Japan recently and over there they thought this should be our 'Masterpiece', as we gave the album the band's name. Very weird!"
Is this Supergrass' Masterpiece?
Danny: "Uh, not quite really. I think we should take a new, better direction."
Will the ultimate Supergrass album come eventually?
Danny: "I certainly hope so. I think the next one will be really great."
Gaz: "Hopefully NOT! Cause there's nothing left to work for then. You can stay home, listening to your ultimate record. I'd like to keep on going forever."
Can you tell what things you're not satisfied with?
Danny: "Hard to say. I think we eventually didn't make the best of it. It could have been much better. The album doesn't really sound the way we sound as a band. We have done some things too hasty. We had to write several lyrics quite fast for instance, which could have been much better."
Gaz: "I don't know. It contains a lot of good things as well. On the whole the album sounds much better than our last one, but some things are not quite right. I consider the record more as a frozen moment. Some of the songs could have been worked on better. Please don't get me wrong, the songs are good. We're very proud of this record. Maybe we're a little negative about it, as we've been hearing it so much for the last few months."
What's the progress 'Supergrass' has made since 'In It For The Money'?
Gaz: "The songs are more interesting. There's more depth and the songs have more layers nowadays."
Danny: "There's also more groove and soul in it. I think about 7 tracks really have something sparkling."
Mickey: "It's not so 'filled'. We've overdone the details in the songs from 'In It For The Money'. But we did that album in a different period, in winter, which you can hear. 'In It For The Money' sounds more dark, different. The new record is much opener and lighter in that sense."
Songs like 'YOUR LOVE' and 'BORN AGAIN' show much more of the groovier side of Supergrass.
Mickey: "In those songs you can hear Danny making love with me. In a musical sense, that is!"
We've been working like that since our first record 'I Should Coco'. We used to listen to people like Sly Stone, but for some reason this never turned up on our records. Until now."
Are you satisfied with these songs?
Danny: "I'm not sure about 'Your Love'. This could have been a bit groovier."
Mickey: "I think they're great! It's not just the groove, that's made them. The songs still stand without the rhythm, just because they're good songs."
Danny: "Well, the riff of 'Your Love' should have been bursting out more. There's just not enough fucking sex in that song. It should have sounded more sleazy."
'Pumping On Your Stereo' is a great song and one of the best videos of this year.
Gaz: "I think it's a good album track and single track, but it's not a really good song, you see the difference?"
Mickey: "I was happy with the song and with the video, but I didn't like the reactions in the media."
What do you mean?
Mickey: "It's more about the influence the clip has on how people see us; A happy, fresh pop group. I think that's superficial."
Are you really worried about that?
Mickey: "A little, but my point is that we're not like that! The rest of the album is different and people could fail to understand the record because of that. That would be such a pity."
Gaz: "People who know Supergrass, do know better. It's a bit like the video of 'Alright'. People tended to see us as a young, fresh popband then as well."
Mickey: "Of course, we've become a bit older since then, so we've doubted wether we should release that clip as the first one, because then you maintain that image. I think the 'Pumping' video, like the 'Alright' video is far too one dimensial."
Have you ever considered to drop certain songs as they're not interesting for you anymore?
Danny: "We still try to scrap 'Alright' from the setlist, but didn't really succeeded until now. People still go mad when we play it."
Mickey: "We've considered scrapping songs that we felt stigmatizing."
You feel 'Alright' stigmatizes?
Mickey: "Yeah, I think it does. 'Alright' showed us at the age of 13, 14 when we first got in touch with booze, drugs and girls. 'Alright' celebrates being young and thats a picture that no longer suits us. I'm not saying we want to make a serious statement and that everybody should look for that now, but I like people interesting themselves into every detail of Supergrass."
Perhaps you should make a serious video then.
Mickey: "I don't really think we're able to do that. We're quite serious in a strange way, even though it looks all young, happy and full of life. But you should watch yourself not getting to preachy or arrogant."
How is the shooting of the 'Moving' video going?
Mickey: "I rather wouldn't talk about that. At least we're far from satisfied with it."
'Moving', one of the outstanding tracks from 'Supergrass' is about feeling restless.
Gaz: "That's correct. It describes the feelings I had being in several situations I didn't like at all! It's about not staying in stranded situations for too long. Life is like travelling and you should for example take care not to hang around with someone you don't really like. But that was years ago. I don't feel restless now. I feel great at the moment. I live in a nice town, play in a great band and I have a lovely girlfriend. I have nothing to complain about."
Mickey: "I feel a little restless at the moment. I need to see a toilet urgently!"
To return to 'Pumping'. How serious should we take your line "The wider the eyes, the bigger the lies"?
Gaz: "If I take a pill occasionally, you mean? Yes of course, loads of em hahaha... Anyway, the song isn't meant that way. That line has a double meaning to it. On one hand it means: the more pills you take, the more you will get fooled."
Danny: "The other story is: the crazier you get, the more nonsense you're gonna spit out. The song's about someone living the extravagant life, experimenting with drugs and it describes the effects it has on his environment."
English media has been claiming the death of 'Britpop' in the past year. What's your view on the British popscene in 1999.
Gaz: "There's not much left. Maybe in autumn some great things may be released. It's coming a bit in squirts these days. You'll see more and more commercially minded, cheesy bands in the charts these days. The good thing about that is, the call for underground bands will return because of that. I think bands like Ultrasound, Beta Band and Super Furry Animals are quite interesting."
Danny: "I think there are far too much boybands in clean white suits, singing: 'I never wanna hear you say, I like it that way'. That's about anal sex isn't it?"
Mickey rejoins the interview: "That's quite perverse. Especially for the younger kids, don't you think? Who singing that anyway?"
Danny: "I think it was the Backdoor Boys."
Speaking of young kids, Gaz: Any plans to become daddy, like Mickey and Danny?
Gaz: "Uh, hahaha, well... . I've seen these two being busy. I think I'll wait some more years!"
The album Supergrass' will be released 20th September.
Raymond Rotteveel, OOR - 04 September 1999
(English translation by Leo Hoek van Dijke)