The Press Article
The Modern Parents
Supergrass, Leeds Town and Country Club: Gaz, Danny and Mickey keep it real even with another sprog on the way
A car sits outside the venue, ready to whip Danny Goffey back down the M1. One step ahead of the current pop-star vogue for reproduction, the droopy-lidded Supergrass drummer and his girlfriend Pearl are expecting their second young 'un at any moment. From square one, these gigs have hung in the balance, but the call doesn't come and so tonight's show goes on. Still, it hardly seems like the best time for Supergrass to be returning to the stage to show off their first material in two years.
"I know," laughs singer Gaz. "It's not the perfect time but, you know, when is the perfect time? But we'll work around it. It's happened before. And it's a pretty nice thing to be mucked around by - a little baby..."
Ensconced in the dressing room, ignoring the sandwich and nut selection in favour of red wine and marijuana, Gaz is clearly buzzing off playing live again.
"Oh, it's fantastic, yeah," he says in his laidback stoner Cockney that seems forever on the verge of calling people 'cool cats'. "And, we've kept in contact all the time. but, you know, it's great being back out with the guys."
Gaz has enjoyed his time off in Brighton, which involved buying a house, playing pool in his local pub and listening to sweet soul music ("There's almost always some soul in our music. Not that we're going to go around saying we're making soul music or anything") and generally hanging out.
Such hard-earned times of idleness are well behind him, though, from the moment he straps on his guitar, approaches the mike and bursts into the bruising intro of 'Richard III'. It's a magnificent reintroduction to the 'Grass scheme of things, a roaring celebration of celebration itself, still thrilling in it's unforced power. It's also still a puzzle as to how four people (including half-member Rob, keyboard player and brother of Gaz) can produce a sound that's simultaneously so thick and so energised.
With Supergrass looking like they've never been away, the West Yorkshire crowd can but respond in kind, bouncing ecstatically and offering hand-clapped accompaniment to 'Mary', a delightful slice of left-field pop with a chorus of descending 'aah-ing from bassist Mickey Quinn undercut by 'ye-ye-yeh!' interjections from Gaz. It's the first of five new tunes played tonight, which all feel something like the adrift elements from 'In It For The Money' infused with that standard Supergrass sunshine optimism. Bluesy ballads about 'missin' ya woman cos yer on the road' are, it appears, out. Vibrant, mullet-layered music that teeters on the edge of innovation while never losing its central straight-ahead impulses is, it seems, very much in.
On record, 'Pumping On Your Stereo' may be a slightly disappointing rehash of David bowie circa 1974. Live, though, it's a blast. This may well be down to the fact that, as Gaz complains later, they strike into it too fast and can't find a way to slow down. Which isn't really a problem.
Also not a problem is the fact that they're still not duly worried about imbuing their songs with meaning. New track 'Jesus Came From Outer Space' is also Bowie-ish (if, this time, 'Hunky Dory'-era) and goes no deeper than its somewhat hackneyed title. "It's just a pretty cool line," Gaz confirms later. "We liked it and played around with it, adding in a load of other one-liners, working them around Lou Reed/Velvets-type riffs."
Such is the way of the 'Grass - a bunch of cool stuff thrown together and thrown out without undue concern about socio-economic subtexts. 'Caught By The Fuzz' and 'Alright' are rare in actually being about things. Superb as these are to hear again, the typically meaning-free 'Sun hits The Sky' is the pinnacle. Gaz screaming "I am a doctor/I'll be your doctor" over hyper-accelerated powerchords is something that really can't be denied.
When he returns alone with acoustic guitar to play pseudo-angsty ballad 'It's Not Me', it feels like padding until the next bout of big, bold pogo-pop. Which, naturally, the closing 'Caught By The Fuzz' provides in full.
In short, Supergrass provide the most essential level of enjoyment the live experience can offer. And that's it. ideology and agendas take a well-earned rest. There's a certain honest dignity in such a n unswerving non-stance.
"I've never grown tired of them," says Gaz of the hit-friendly set. Sitting back on the sofa, as Danny gets his stuff together for the waiting carriage, he smile: "I'd never deny they're some of the best songs we've written. I still love getting them out, you know? We'll never be disowning any of our old stuff."
So were the new tracks indicative of what's to come?
"A lot of people have been saying they reckon it's going to be all Bowie-ish, and it really isn't at all," he protests, perhaps too much.
"The rest of the album's nothing like that, it's just really good, weird stuff. It sounds like Supergrass, you know?"
The comeback 45 (with it's Muppet-esque video) may raise a smile as it self-fulfillingly pumps on your stereo, but Gaz admits it's not the stuff of legend.
"It's a good track, but not a good song," he says. "It just sort of makes you move." He grins like a scamp. "The backing vocals are quite a laugh, though. but there are a lot of proper songs on the album."
It hardly seems an exaggeration. Going on tonight's indications, Supergrass have a great deal more to celebrate than the wonders of fatherhood.
Steve Lowe, Select - July 1999