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Supergrass


Musicians often take real life experiences and work them into their music. In the mid-90s Supergrass lead singer and guitarist Gaz Coombes was arrested and cautioned by police for possession of cannabis. So it made sense that the group's '94 debut single would be titled "Caught By The Fuzz." Though released on the indie label Backbeat Records, the song got a big boost from DJ John Peel who played it on his BBC show, Radio One. As a result, Supergrass got picked up by Parlophone Records and the song was re-released later in the year. It charted, but not very high, in the U.K. and did nothing in the U.S. However, the Oxford band's debut album, "I Should Coco," released in '95, went to #1 in the U.K. That year Supergrass picked up a slew of honors: Ivor Novello Award (Best Contemporary Song "Alright"), NME Award (Best New Band), Q Award (Best New Act) and the '96 BRIT Award (Best Breakthrough Act).

A few years earlier, Coombes and drummer Danny Goffey were in a band called The Jennifers, with Goffey's brother Nic, who eventually directed most of the Supergrass videos. As things wound down, Rob Coombes approached his brother about starting another group. Danny Goffey was brought along and they recruited bassist Mick Quinn. This quartet was actually a trio since Rob only worked on select sessions and provided tour support later on. He wouldn't become an official member until the group's fourth album.

"In It For The Money," released in '97, made it to #2 in the U.K. While the group's second album was being recorded Goffey moved to London (from Oxford) to live with his girlfriend, Powder singer Pearl Lowe. This put Goffey right smack in the middle of the London social scene and made him a tabloid favorite. In addition, recording was often held up so Goffey could return to London to record with his side band Lodger which, conveniently enough, included Lowe as a member. This would cause some friction later.

'99's "Supergrass" kept with the trend, it peaked one notch lower on the album chart, #3, than its predecessor. The next set, and the first to include Roy as an official member, '02's "Life On Other Planets," didn't do nearly as well, stalling at #9.





The band's tenth anniversary was celebrated with the release of "Supergrass Is 10: Best Of '94 - '04." An accompanying DVD contained bandmembers sharing their experiences. The compilation was issued in part because the group seemed incapable of putting out an album of new material to coincide with the anniversary.

The death of Coombes' mother and Goffey's continued tabloid coverage made '05's "Road To Rouen" difficult. But the album was able to equal the highest chart position of "Life On Other Planets." But that wasn't the case three years later when "Diamond Ho Ha" dropped. The album barely cracked the U.K.'s Top 20.

A serious injury to Quinn (broken ribs from sleep walking) brought another Coombes into the circle, Charly, as Quinn's tour replacement. Charly stayed on, playing second guitar, following Quinn's return.

Their label's lack of financial support for the single "Rebel In You" led to the formation of Supergrass Records. But in April, '10, Supergrass announced they were splitting up after 17 years over "musical differences." The band played a few more shows before parting ways. Meanwhile, Goffey and Coombes launched The Hotrats - originally called The Hot Rats.

Supergrass Discography

Albums:

1995 I Should Coco
1997 In It For The Money
1999 Supergrass
2002 Life On Other Planets
2005 Road To Rouen
2008 Diamond Hoo Ha

Supergrass play exuberant, guitar driven BritPop that unfortunately made very little impression in the U.S. But it could/should have. Like Blur, Supergrass has a rough edge charm with a dose of attitude.

"I Should Coco," "In It For The Money" and "Supergrass" are their best albums. But this was a band that could create great songs like "Alright," "Late In The Day," "Richard III," "Mansize Rooster" and "Pumping On Your Stereo" throughout their career. So for those unfamiliar with Supergrass, the place to start is "Supergrass Is 10: Best Of '94 - '04."


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