- 15 May 19
I Should Coco, the debut album from Britpop group Supergrass, was released on this day 24 years ago. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Edwin McFee's interview with frontman Gaz Coombes, originally published in Hot Press in 2015.
When much beloved Britpop band Supergrass stuttered to a stop in the summer of 2010, their frontman Gaz Coombes felt a little adrift. At least initially. In fact it took him a full year-and-a-half before he performed his first ever solo shows, before officially starting his solo career in May 2012 with the release of Here Come The Bombs. Never intending to strike out on his own, the multi-instrumentalist, by his own admission, stumbled into his current situation and in many ways that makes his second album Matador (which has been hailed as his masterpiece) an even more astonishing achievement.
“I didn’t have any designs on making records three or four years ago,” he begins. “It just kinda happened and I started writing. I didn’t really feel like I had anything to lose. I just thought I’d write some music and see what happens, but the reception to Matador has been amazing. I’ve been very overwhelmed about how it’s being received.”
Now a bona fide solo star, the singer with the best sideburns in the business has taken to it all like a duck to water, as anyone who managed to catch his handful of Irish live shows a few months ago will confirm.
“Being on my own feels good, man. I’ve got some great people around me. I’ve got some great players and the vibe is really positive. I can’t escape the fact that it’s harder in some ways though. In a band you can share the load when it comes to press and stuff and even wallow together in the disappointment of a duff review, but it’s also really exciting as well. It’s challenging and the rewards are greater.
“Our current tour has been amazing,” he adds. “We’ve had some of the best gigs we’ve ever done and we’ve hit our stride now. There’s a real consistency with the performances and we can’t wait to tackle the festivals.”
Now in full-on festival mode, next on the list for Gaz is a date at Marlay Park, playing alongside Paolo Nutini, Imelda May and Alabama Shakes. He tells us he was thrilled to get the invite to play.
“It’s going to be a cracking day and it’s such a great setting. Playing with those guys will be great. Paolo’s got so much energy and he’s just so cool and Imelda and Alabama Shakes will be great as well. I haven’t really crossed paths with them in the past, but I’m excited about getting acquainted. I’ve had so many mad times in Ireland and it’s great to be coming back and doing a show.”
Speaking of mad times, it would be remiss of us not to mention the 20th anniversary of Supergrass’ debut album I Should Coco. A record which changed his life pretty much since it first hit record shop shelves, we wonder how he feels about those days now?
“Sometimes it feels like yesterday and then other times it feels like another lifetime ago. I was listening to it recently because we’re planning this anniversary re-issue and it was great to hear it again. It felt really fresh and full of energy. It’s been great talking to people involved around it as well. There’s a lot of love for that record and we all feel proud of it.
"I was like 16 or 17 years old when everything blew up and it was insane. Life was so fast moving. We hit the road pretty early on that album and started touring America for six or seven weeks and by the time we got back ‘Alright’ had been released. It had all gone crazy and suddenly everyone was recognising me in the street. It was bonkers but exciting.”
Perhaps the pinnacle of that bonkers but exciting period was the infamous Brit Awards ‘96 (where Supergrass won Best Breakthrough Act). During the ceremony the Oasis versus Blur battle raged on, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage in the middle of Michael Jackson’s performance, and Gaz found himself fending off an enamoured Belinda Carlisle.
"It was awesome," he laughs. "It was slightly awkward as well as my girlfriend was there, but I think we both found it charming ultimately. Belinda was on a table next to us and came over and took a little bit of a shine to me and started chatting me up. It turned out to be one of those mad nights. It was our first big award ceremony and even when I look back at our speech, we didn’t know where we were or what we were doing. It was a surreal moment, then there was that thing with Jarvis and Michael Jackson that night too... there was definitely madness in the air!”
Stream I Should Coco below: