Reunions, Record Shops, and Coca-Cola: A Conversation with Gaz Coombes
Before hitting the stage at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, Gaz Coombes of brit-pop powerhouse Supergrass sat down with The Minimal Beat and talked about his solo album, Matador, released on his record label Hot Fruit Recordings.
TMB: Hey Gaz! Thanks for talking to us. How’s the tour going so far?
GAZ: It’s been great, we got to New York ten days ago, we did Philadelphia, Boston, DC, two nights in New York, now here in Chicago. It’s been amazing, you know. Great response from the fans.
TMB: Do you miss the group dynamic? Do you feel like the pressure is on you now that you’ve gone solo and don’t have your old mates?
GAZ: Not at all, it’s just a different thing that I’m doing. It’s sort of moved along, it’s evolved. This is what I’m doing and it feels great. I was playing with a band most of last year, touring around the UK and Europe, it was amazing, a great bunch of guys I was playing with, to still get that interaction with a band on stage, I love it. But equally, doing these kind of shows on my own with a few kind of samplers and boxes and weird instruments, it’s been a lot of fun and really kind of liberating and kinda cool to play with the arrangements and stuff.
TMB: Did you have a goal for what you wanted to achieve sound-wise for this new record?
GAZ: I think it sort of pieced itself together, you know? Early ideas trying to be really instinctive with what went down, what I recorded, and it just sort of grew from the seed of Buffalo, it was the first track I wrote.
TMB: In this day in age with so many different media outlets and streaming services, do you think it’s easier for an artist to have more control over the way they are promoted and the finished product by going with an independent label rather than a major label like you’ve done in the past?
GAZ: I think it’s just completely depends…it just depends on what kind of band you are, what you want, what kind of artist you are, there’s a lot more freedom to do things the way you want to do it, and to promote it in your own way, do your own artwork and be in-house, DYI about it, which is fantastic…. but equally if the bands aren’t getting the kind of weight and support behind them, you can feel kind of isolated. It seems odd now that bands starting out, these young guys have to know everything and multitask and be media savvy, almost kind of arena-ready if they have a big hit. The pressure is just insane. I think it’s good for bands to have time to grow and learn and fuck up and play bad shows and do awful b sides.
TMB: You played that acoustic set at Reckless Records today. Do you go record shopping?
GAZ: Yeah, over here you still got it pretty good with record stores, we’re suffering in England, they are few and far between and they’re all closing down and stuff, but I love going to record stores and flipping through albums and getting that vibe..
TMB: Do you remember the very first record you bought?
GAZ: I think it might have been a 7” single of Into the Groove by Madonna when I was about 8. I got it from my local supermarket. And then I went home and danced, in front of the mirror. Haha.
TMB: If you could put together a supergroup, who would be in your supergroup?
GAZ: Hmm.. that’s a tricky one. John Bonam on drums…. Neil Young on Rhythm Guitar, Blondie on vocals…. who’s gonna be on bass? So many…
TMB: Maybe Gaz Coombes?
GAZ: Possibly! I don’t know…. That will have to do. Or maybe it’s just a three piece?
TMB: Are you still in touch with Mick and Danny?
GAZ: Yeah, I saw them a few weeks back. They’re very good.
TMB: Cool! What are the best and worst things about touring the states? It’s been a little while since you’ve toured the states…
GAZ: Yeah, it’s been a while. There aren’t really many bad things about it, actually it’s been really exciting, everywhere we’ve gone people have been great, welcoming with a warm feeling in all the rooms, so I’ve been loving it. When you have a long journey, 9 hours, stopping off at places and everything is full on supersized, and you’re like “I don’t know if I can drink 4 liters of coca-cola, but do you kind of have like a little can? You don’t have a little can? Okay, well then I’ll take this 7 liter bottle.” Haha. It’s funny, but it’s all good, I love it here, I really love it here, I’ve been coming since I’ve been like 17 and I’ve missed it.
TMB: Do you prefer small clubs or festivals?
GAZ: Man, it depends. I like the smallness of clubs and being that close to the people in front and feeling the sweat dripping from the ceiling, that kind of intamacy is great, but if it’s a great field with a good vibe that day and the weather is beautiful… I’ve had an unforgettable performance at Glastonbury, and those are special gigs too.
TMB: Okay, my last one for you! With the recent successful reunions of blur, libertines, etc…
(Everyone in the room) hahaha
TMB: How much money would you have if you had a nickel every time someone asked you about a Supergrass reunion?
GAZ: I don’t know, probably about $2,745 dollars. Just a lot, a lot. What can I say? This is what’s going on at the moment, I can’t predict the future. I guess if we ever get bored and we call each other up and are like, “Hey, do you wanna go and get in a room and play?”, we’ll get in a room and play, but there’s no talk of it at the moment.
TMB: Cool, thanks a lot Gaz!
GAZ: No problem!
Gaz Coombes will be playing shows in Southampton, Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Sheffield in May and June. Check out tour dates and listen to / purchase his new record Matador HERE. Check out the video for Detroit below.