THE INTERVIEW: Supergrass
It’s 3:55pm on a weekday, and my leg is twitching restlessly. I haven’t been this nervous for a while. It doesn’t have anything to do with my present location, or even the people around me; what’s got me looking at my watch every ten seconds is the fact that Supergrass is about to call.
One of my all-time favorites on the britpop scene, Supergrass is famous to me because of their uncanny ability to stay true to themselves amidst so many changes in the music scene and comparable bands they grew up with. Their recent release, Diamond Hoo Ha, shares the same underlying sentiments as previous releases but possesses a more mature, laid-back sound, and I was eager to know how they felt about all of this.
At 4pm on the dot, my little black phone shakes, and I dash from the room I’m in to talk with keyboardist Rob Coombes for a little while. It’s the first time I’m star struck over the phone. The band is in Indianapolis on tour at the moment.
My first question is about the title of their album. Where did it come from? Rob is candid: “It’s just what came out,” and he goes on to say that when it was first suggested, it had a cool ring to it, so they kept it. He tells me that they are having such a good time touring and playing this album because they love all of the songs on it and get so into them. “The message behind the latest album is one of optimism,” he says.
This optimism sets the tone for the rest of our conversation. When we talk about the three-year hiatus between the last album, Road to Rouen, and this one, Rob acknowledges that he likes to do things more quickly but that he is satisfied with the end project. “Stuff will always get in the way, but we just take a break when it does. I like the period at home between albums; my eye is always on the next one.”
Next, I ask Rob about the changes in the music industry overall and how they’ve affected the band. “We both recognize how hard it is to stay true to one’s music,” Rob says, “We try not to let (the changing music industry) affect us,” citing a long relationship with their record label Astralwerks as the main reason it doesn’t.
I also really want to get his opinion on the changes in the music scene in Britain and throughout the U.K. “There are still some good bands, but what’s different is how they get into it,” he explains, crediting the Internet as a powerful mechanism for finding new talent. “Before, we had to do it a certain way – go through the record company, rely on that middle man, but now there are so many more options.”
My last question is one I ask every band I interview. Being from New York, I want to know how Supergrass feels about playing for a New York audience. “We love it!” he exclaims, explaining that New York, along with San Francisco and Los Angeles, embraced Supergrass right from the start. “We’ve always had good experiences in New York.”