The Press Article
Gaz Coombes' Track-By-Track Guide To "Supergrass"
SUPERGRASS' Gaz Coombes takes us track-by-track through the new album, revealing influences as diverse as showbiz soirees, travellers and geology. Obviously
Dreamy, delicious recent single
"I was messing around with that melody in rehearsal and my brother Rob was playing these chords on the piano, and we started jamming the two. Mick put a funky bassline to the verse and they worked really well. Lyrically, it's about getting away from life, the bad situations, and searching for something new and prosperous and exciting. It's not direct, there's nothing specific. The chorus is about when you're feeling down but you've got to try and sort it out and get somewhere you feel good. It's relatable to feelings in my life where you've got to pick up and leave and you move on to something else."
2 'YOUR LOVE'
Driven yet tender ode to love
"That's basically a little love song. It's about someone opening your mind and every little moment you have lying in meadows together. There's three very different sections, bit more of a groove in the verse. We've been getting the groove together quite a lot. Nice harpsichord on that one. We've always been into soul music, but in the last couple of years I've been listening to more Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding and Gil Scott-Heron stuff, so maybe that creeps in there."
3 'WHAT WENT WRONG (IN YOUR HEAD)?'
Madness go mental
"What went wrong, indeed. That came from Danny's young, imaginative mind. It's about accepting that people are a bit crazy, we're all a bit crazy, but you can still have a fulfilling life if you're not quite there. The chorus says 'God save the unstable'. That often happens with us, eventually we get round to talking about madness in some way. I don't know why. Danny had those lyrics really early on. It's about people he remembered from years ago that had freaked out and gone a bit bonkers."
4 'BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE'
Tom Jones, get paranoid. No, really.
"In the job we've got, we always have these bizarre parties that get thrown for us at end of tours and that. You go in there and there's no one you actually know and everyone's off their heads on all sorts of different stuff and they're in your face, sweating, going, 'Hey! Love your new record!' It's about being in the middle of that, getting caught in the crossfire and feeling separate from it. It's not like we sit in the corner crying or nothing, we just get really pissed and have a laugh somehow, but observing the mentality of these things is quite amusing. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just an observation we've made."
5 'SHOTOVER HILL'
Swoonsome snapshots of the past
"It's actually a hill in Whitby and we used to go up there and the travellers used to be there and we used to get a bit of smoking done and see all these mad travellers with their dogs. It's just a little story about that, remembering walking up the hill and coming back down three hours later after a few smokes and it's raining. It was a really beautiful place as well, and it's a very visual song. It talks about how you can see the glow of the caravans and they're smoking stuff and you can smell it all. It's looking back to our youth. We all remember it really well, so it was good to get together and write about it."
Still-watered sadness. Oh yes
"It's an old demo I had a long time ago, these two sections of music. It's a piece of music rather than a song with a chorus. It's pretty similar to the original demo, but we all wrote the vocals and lyrics. We all write songs, all four of us, so a lot of songs come together like that. It was called 'Eno' for a few months but it's not exactly an ode to Brian Eno, so we changed it. It's about fallen idols, people you recognise and remember because they meant something to you but they probably didn't realise they were doing anything good at the time... well, not necessarily good, but doing something that makes people feel good, y'know? It's not about anyone specific, just recognising the value of fallen stars."
Just, well, mental as anything
"We just wanted to see how mad a song we could do using three chords, basically, using the dynamics around it. Instead of changing chords for a section we wanted to change the mood of it, so there's three sections with the same chords. We started off in the studio seeing how many insults we could throw onto the table. We wanted to get all these insults out and then see what we could make out of it. It developed from there, so it became analytical, almost like a psychiatrist's meeting, Mary being the psychiatrist and every day you go along and try to shock her with different things and freak her out, be really nasty and horrible. They were insults to imaginary people, being a little bit more psychological than hurtful."
8 'JESUS CAME FROM OUTTA SPACE'
"Did he? That's something we'd like to know. That was just a couple of lines we had in the rehearsal room and the rest of the song went in the same vein of one-liners. There is an underlying thing around it, but it is very patchy in the way that it's schizophrenic, it's got a lot of one-liners. But you could say there's a lot of grey area around religion and looking back over time it's difficult to know what's what. But in the end you realise that love can rise above everything else and just be what it is, a straight-ahead sort of thing. To say that it's got a solid, tied-up meaning would be a lie."
9 'PUMPING ON YOUR STEREO'
Can you hear them?
"That was probably one of the quickest and easiest to get going. I started playing the chords on piano and everyone just joined in. Five minutes, really. Mick started embellishing on top of it, lines like 'Life is a cigarette'. Lyrically, it's just about living life in the fast lane, burning the candle at both ends and the consequences of doing that to your friends and loved ones. I thought it was the least original of all of them. I remember when I was playing, I was laughing to Mick, saying 'This sounds quite Bowie, dunnit? Sounds like something off "Ziggy Stardust".' But we carried on playing it and put our own hooks on it. We didn't rip any chords off anyone, but we took the vibe from the Seventies stuff. we stuck with it because it was a laugh to play and it ended up on the album."
10 'BORN AGAIN'
A sweet chill-out with a loved one
"That was instrumental for quite a while. Mick had this guitar lick and we got to the end of recording and though, 'Shit! We've got to put some vocals on this!' So we found a few vocals that had a soothing message to people who listen to it, saying whatever shit you're in you'll be all right. I can imagine you're sitting with your girlfriend and she's saying it's the end and you're going, 'Don't worry, baby, it'll be all right.' That kind of soothing, calming feeling."
Thoughtful, beautiful, wonderful
"It's a really powerful song. Mick wrote most of the lyrics, so you'd have to ask him about that, but I think it's about being in and out of relationships and crossing through a few subjects. There's bits about the paranormal and the relations of the stars and how they affect you. I'm a little bit cloudy on that one. Bits of it talk about how two people fit together and other bits talk about what makes a person how they are, and paranormal activity. It's quite out-there."
12 'MAMA & PAPA'
"Mick wrote most of those lyrics and I did the music. That's about being on your own. You've got to do things your own way when you haven't got any cash and you're struggling. It's also about geology, the movements of mountains and the creation of valleys. It's the big wide world we're in, and when you're out there on your own you think about these things, the world and how it's put together and why."
"Supergrass" is out now on Parlophone
Melody Maker - 02 October 1999