GAZ COOMBES The Light And The Dark Of Life


Singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes talks to SHANE PINNEGAR about his just-released second solo album, Matador.

A sometimes moody collection of tracks which leave the quirkier side of Supergrass far behind, Gaz Coombe’s new album, Matador, features consummate song construction and the sort of layered sonics that lend themselves to movie soundtracks, more than three-minute pop hits. 

Coombes couldn’t be happier about the initial reaction to the album.

“Yeah, it’s been a pretty amazing couple months actually,” he explains. “It’s always stressful to the moment when you’re looking to release a record. There’s always that sort of mixture of tension and excitement and nervousness. You don’t know how people are going to take it. It’s been amazing. I’ve been down in my studio putting ideas down and trying to get a record together and, all of a sudden, it’s out there and being really well received. I’m pretty overwhelmed by the response. It’s been amazing.

“I guess there’s a lot there for people to reference against and, obviously, a lot of it’s inevitably referring back to Supergrass, which was a really important time in my life. It’s the reason I’m here. If it wasn’t for Supergrass and all the great stuff that we did, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.”

The humour in Supergrass was far more in your face than on Coombes’ solo work. There’s still humour in there, but it’s deeper down in the mix. I wonder if that is a sign of maturity now that he’s a father.

“I don’t think so,” he asserts. “The same ridiculous surreal things get me going. I don’t think my sense of humour, or my approach, or my outlook on life has really changed that much. You know, you just have to kind of feed off what’s happening at that time in life. My life’s good. I’m enjoying myself. Life gets more complicated as you get older. It gets more chaotic and complicated and there’s more factors and layers to tap into. Maybe that’s what it is. I guess the fun is to tap into all of that stuff, the light and the dark of life, perhaps more than we did in Supergrass, but I still think there’s a lot of those dark layers within Supergrass too.”

Coombes played most of the instruments on Matador, and says he didn’t restrict himself to any single genre when making the album.

“I just wanted to feed off what was happening instinctively. I’d get into the studio and I’d start putting that beat down, maybe just a beat or it might be something that would start from a few loops, maybe a little melody or something, and then feed off that really and try and find inspiration from the studio and from what was around me rather than any particular influence from the outside. It’s almost giving into what I felt like doing. I try to keep my mind open to whatever came along and that’s really what propelled it forward.”

So, 20 years on from I Should Coco, with a masterful second solo album out, does Gaz Coombes feel the same about music as he did as a 16 year-old?

“Yeah. It’s a different climate, a different landscape to be involved with, but that excitement when I play back something through the speakers in the studio or I get that feeling on stage, then, yeah, it’s exactly the same and the same kind of thing that fuels me. It really is. It’s a different sound, a different sort of vibe. That’s the whole part of the evolution process. You’ve got to keep changing with it and keep adapting, but the essence always, I guess, remains the same.”