Diamond Hoo Ha
Britpop alumni enter their Berlin period. Sort of...
Can it really be nearly 15 years since Supergrass hitched a ride to the Britpop party? With all their peers, save a depleted Blur and Oasis, now safely in the rearview mirror, five Top 10 albums in the trunk and a new generation of admirers - most notably The Arctic Monkeys - urging them on, they could be forgiven for cruising nostalgically towards middle-age.
But beneath that easy-going exterior lurks a fearsome inner dirve. When bassist Mick Quinn slepwalked through a first-floor window and sustained serious injuries last September, most bands would have taken it as an excuse for a year off.
Instead, Gac Coombes and Danny Goffey embarked on a club tour as White Stripes spoof The Diamond Hoo Ha Men, while Quinn made the kind of miraculous recovery normally reserved for David Banner.
Such admirable strenght or purpose reverbarates through Diamond Hoo Ha
. Perhaps it's the thrill of recording at the legendary Hansa studios in Berlin (once home to David Bowie and Japan) which led them to the "Heroes"-esque ambience of "Rebel In You" or the swirling Krautrock rumble of "Rough Knuckles". All this memeric swagger is, however, still matched by a rapier lyrical guile. JJ Cale-esque lament "Ghost In You" [sic] sees Gaz bemoaning the loss of a friend to the party set, seething: "There's always a circus in town/Vultures, peacocks and hounds
" while "Whisky & Greeen Tea" [sic] sees them encountering Chinese dragons, middle-aged schoolgirls and "being chased by William Burroughs
" amid runaway drums and squealing sax. Not quite "We keep our teeth nice and clean
", then. More clues to the demons which forced Danny Goffey to "wander off" during sessions for 2005's brooding Road To Rouen
appear on "When I Needed You". "In the middle of a shady bar/Broken bottles flying through the air/That's when I needed you
," sighs Gaz, music as ever, a salve for their disrupted friendship.
Heavy stuff. But apply megawatt tunes and career-best performances and you've got an album to top even 2002's criminally neglected Life On Other Planets
. Twenty-four-carat stuff, guaranteed.
Q&A GAZ COOMBES
UNCUT: This is quite a departure from 2005's Road To Rouen...
"We've all been through the mill in the last few years. My mum died, and Mick and Danny had a few personal issues going on. But we started doing demos in my basement and all the songs came out soundign really mental, noisy and brilliant. Playing together in a room helped us get close again.
Did recording at Hansa inspire you?
All the songs were written before we weont, but Berlin definitely inspired the feel of the album. We went to some crazy bars, and had a ball. Hence the title. Thewhoel experience was magical - a diamond hoo ha!
Does it feel odd to be an elder statesmen at 30?
Well, we are getting older. But sportsmen reach their best in their late twenties and early thirties, so that's how I see it. We're at our peak!
Paul Moody, Uncut - April 2008