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Supergrass

by Archives February 15, 2006

It’s been 12 years since British indie rock act Supergrass got together, but the group is showing no signs of slowing down with their 2006 North American Tour.

Playing La Tulipe on February 7, frontman and guitarist Gaz Coombes, drummer Danny Goffey, bassist Mick Quinn and keyboard player Rob Coombes were in Montreal promoting their latest endeavour, Road to Rouen.

“We always just really look forward to the North American tours. [They’re] very exciting and very eventful and also a challenge,” Gaz Coombes said before the show.

With years of experience and good memories under their belts, a Supergrass performance is varied, diverse and representative of their own preferences for a live show. “We like to play heavy rock ‘n’ roll music, so [we play] very exciting, very energetic shows. We just try to get a bit of everything from the past that you admire, like Neil Young [does, with] a bit of acoustic and then the whole band. I like that in a live show, so we try to do a bit of that, which is really cool,” explained Coombes.

On releasing a ‘Best Of’ compilation in 2004 called Supergrass is 10, Coombes said that hitting that 10-year mark didn’t change the band that much. “I suppose it feels good, [but] it feels like there’s a lot for us to learn still and there’s a lot for us to do, so no different. There’s still a lot of ambition,” he said.

That ambition is definitely evident on Road to Rouen, the group’s fifth and newest record. “I think it’s just a really focused album. It’s just a pretty direct album in the way that it’s all pretty much laid back and not just kind of confined [to] a bit of freak-out psychedelic songs,” Coombes said.

Reflective of what the group was going through during its composition, Road to Rouen imitates, for Coombes, “that couple of years of sort of highs and lows and about a real kind of travel happening. A real kind of journey [and what] life was like around that time, just passing through different emotions,” he said.

Even the album’s recording process was a completely different and meaningful experience from having to normally deal with the pressures and costs of writing in an actual studio. Briefly relocating to Normandy where the Coombes brothers own a barn, the band wanted isolation to ensure as much creativity as possible. “We kind of took all the furniture out and put all the equipment in. It was pretty relaxed and we were able to do our own thing; just able to really express ourselves freely and make what we really hoped to on this record,” said Coombes.

It’s always been about expression for Supergrass. Less promotion and more “recording in the studio and playing live [is great],” related Coombes. “Promotion and promoting yourself, I think I’m not so I don’t mind that, but it’s just sort of harder to explain your music. It’s really easy to make it. It’s really hard afterwards telling people how you did it. Playing live is amazing still. Even after 12 years, it’s a joy.”

With the connection between the four of them, “recording in the studio [is like getting] into a big toy shop and you got all these great sounds that you can make and there’s nothing better than that,” Coombes continued.

As for what has kept and what continues to keep Supergrass going all this time? “Just enthusiasm for the music,” Coombes declared. “That’s what we love. I don’t know what else I’d do. I don’t think I’d make a very good accountant or fisherman.”

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