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Supergrass are an Englishmarker alternative rock band from Oxfordmarker. The band consists of brothers Gaz (guitar and lead vocals) and Rob Coombes (keyboards), Danny Goffey (drums and backing vocals), and Mick Quinn (bass and backing vocals).

The main trio formed in 1993 in Oxford with Gaz's brother Rob Coombes occasionally brought in as keyboard player on recordings (but never live, initially). The band released their first single "Caught by the Fuzz" in October 1994 on the Parlophone label. The single reached number 43 in the UK Singles Chart, but failed to chart in the USmarker. Supergrass followed up with their debut full-length album I Should Coco in May 1995. The album reached number one in the UK where it stayed for three weeks. The band's second album In It for the Money (1997) was the first album to be produced entirely by Supergrass and it peaked at number two. Their third self-titled album Supergrass (1999) (often referred to as "the X-ray" album due to the picture on the sleeve) peaked at number three in the UK albums chart. Their fourth album, Life On Other Planets (2002) was the first to include Rob Coombes as an official member of the band, who until then was employed on session and touring basis. The album peaked at number nine in the UK album charts.

In 2004 the band released a singles compilation entitled Supergrass Is 10 to celebrate ten years since the band formed. This was available on CD and DVD format. The DVD version featured a documentary film in which the band members recall moments during their career in the group. This also shows behind the scenes footage of recording sessions and live performances.Road to Rouen (2005) the fifth studio from the band was difficult for the band due to personal reasons including Danny Goffey's tabloid ordeal and the death of the Coombes' mother. This album also peaked at number nine in the UK album charts.Diamond Hoo Ha (2008) is the sixth album from the band and only peaked at number 19 in the UK album charts which makes the release their lowest charting album to date. In 2008, Supergrass ended their contract with EMI, instead resorting to releasing the single 'Rebel In You' independently on 'Supergrass Records'. Supergrass signed to Cooking Vinyl in August 2009 and are working on their 7th studio album Release the Drones due for release in May 2010.

History

The Jennifers and formation: 1990–1993

Supergrass' origins lay in the band The Jennifers, which featured a then 16-year-old Gaz Coombes on vocals and Danny Goffey on drums, who was at the time 18 years old. The band played gigs at various venues around Oxfordshire, often public houses and clubs. One pub the band played at was the Jericho Tavernmarker in Oxfordmarker. The band enjoyed enough success to release one single in 1992, "Just Got Back Today", on Nude Records before they disbanded. Gaz referred to this point in time as follows; "There was a feeling that something was going to happen. All the early gigs were packed and people were getting very excited. Our families and friends kept badgering us for autographs saying, we want them now because they'll be worth something when you're famous. There was a lot of interest from majors, a lot of big money offers flying around."

When Coombes began working at the local Harvester he befriended aforementioned co-worker Mick Quinn, another alumnus of Wheatley Park Schoolmarker. The two realised they had a common interest in music and Coombes invited Quinn to come and jam with himself and Goffey. In February 1993 Quinn officially joined the band on bass guitar, while Goffey continued on drums and Coombes took both vocals and lead guitar, thus forming Theodore Supergrass. "We had about five different names before that, but then we played this one show in Oxford and it got a write-up in the local magazine, a really good write-up, and we thought if we changed the name again people weren’t going to turn up because they wouldn’t know it was the same band so we ended up being stuck with Theodore Supergrass. And then we realized that Theodore was a bit rubbish so we took that off." Said Mick Quinn.

Danny claims that the name was his idea and says; "Although the others will dispute it, it was me. We were Theodore Supergrass and the idea was the band would be a little black character, and we wouldn't ever have to do interviews. We'd get the questions in advance, script the answers and then animate Theodore Supergrass answering them. But it cost too much money."

The brother of Gaz, Rob Coombes, a keyboard player, expressed interest and also started working with the band and was featured on most of the band's first three albums. However, he wasn't introduced as a band member until almost a decade later. The band's early material is credited to "Supergrass and Rob Coombes". Their first gig was at the Jericho Tavernmarker, Oxfordmarker in front of record company A&R people who attended, following publicity generated by recording an acclaimed demo at Sawmills Studiomarker in Cornwallmarker.

Britpop years and stardom: 1994–1998

In mid-1994, Supergrass issued their debut single "Caught by the Fuzz" on the small independent local label Backbeat Records. The song recounts lead singer and guitarist Gaz Coombes' experience of being arrested and cautioned by police in possession of cannabis. The limited release of vinyl copies sold out quickly, thanks in part to support from John Peel on his Radio One show. The Parlophone label signed the band and re-released the single in the autumn of the same year. It achieved the rare feat of both NME and Melody Maker "Single Of The Week" status in the same week.

"Mansize Rooster", released in February 1995, peaked at number 20 in the UK Single Charts and "Lenny" just made it into the top 10. "Lenny" was followed soon afterwards by the band's debut album, I Should Coco (May 1995), which entered the UK Album Charts at number one. It achieved a half-a-million sales in the UK and 990,000 worldwide. NME reviewer Steve Sutherland gave the album a nine out of ten rating, writing, "These freaks shall inherit the earth." The album's fourth single, the double A-side release "Alright"/"Time", stayed in British Top Three for a month, peaking at number two.

Supergrass followed I Should Coco with 18 months of heavy touring, appearing at festivals such as Scotland's T In The Park and the Glastonbury Festivalmarker. After Performing in Riomarker's Hollywood Rock Festival in April 1996, Supergrass met the infamous train robber Ronnie Biggs, and apparently said to him, "I was frightened for my life when I heard there was a supergrass in the area." A photograph of Ronnie Biggs and Gaz together was subsequently included in the music video for their single release of the same year, "Going Out". "Going Out" was a success peaking at number five in the UK charts and sold more than 100,000 units. Having taken a short break in 1996, Supergrass returned to Sawmills Studio to work on In It For The Money (released April 1997), produced by the band themselves with John Cornfield. The album was a critical and commercial success, it also has since gone platinum in the UK. But some were confused by the darker sound. The single, "Richard III" reached number two. Subsequent releases, "Sun Hits the Sky" and "Late In The Day" reached numbers 10 and 18 respectively.

Around this time Supergrass also appeared on the front cover of The Big Issue, interviewed for the magazine at Heathrow Airportmarker by infamous ex-drug smuggler Howard Marks.

Further musical growth: 1999–2004

The band again took a short break before returning in 1999 with the single "Pumping on Your Stereo". The promo video, produced in conjunction with the Jim Henson's Creature Shop, featured the band with comical "muppet" bodies. The single generated welcome publicity following their time out of the limelight, as did a small sold-out tour scheduled around the single release, the final night of which was at Shepherds Bush Empiremarker as part of MTV's "Five Night Stand" festival. The single and the tour were followed by their third LP Supergrass (1999). The following spring the record was released in the U.Smarker Once more, the album was recorded at Sawmills Studio with longtime associate Cornfield producing. Supergrass was well received critically and commercially and it has since gone platinum in the UKmarker, but did not reap the same level of success as its predecessors. Critics claimed the album was "hit and miss" which showed up particularly as the "also-rans are surrounded by songs that are as great as anything Supergrass has ever recorded". Their next single, "Moving", proved popular and reached the Top Ten in the UK. And their third single, "Mary" entered the Top 40. There followed a long hiatus.

After three years out of the limelight, the band returned with Life on Other Planets (September 2002). Though the record was not as commercially successful as Supergrass' first three albums - failing to make the Top Three in the UK album chart - given their extended absence, the album's highest placing at number nine was respectable. However, the critical response to the album was generally very positive, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine from allmusic claiming "The world is a better place for having Supergrass in it." . It has since gone gold in the UK. Life on Other Planets was also notable as it was the first Supergrass album to recognise Rob Coombes as an official member. For the band's first three albums, Supergrass officially consisted of Gaz Coombes, Goffey and Quinn although Rob Coombes contributed to many of the band's songs and videos, and toured with them. Tracks recorded before this were often credited to "Supergrass and Rob Coombes". The band followed Life on Other Planets with another extended three-year hiatus, devoting to touring and personal engagements.

In June 2004 they issued the "greatest hits" compilation Supergrass Is 10 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the band's formation. The record entered the UK album chart at number four and has since gone gold in the UK.

Development in recent years: 2005–2008

The band couldn't celebrate the decade with a new album, as the recording of their fifth studio album was subject to much turbulence. Deciding to depart from Sawmills Studio, they built a new studio for the sessions in the French countryside. Setbacks continued when the Coombes brothers lost their mother. As a result, the band's fifth album, Road to Rouen, was delayed and was not released in Europe until August 2005, and the following month in North America. It reached #9 on the UK charts and has since gone silver in the UK. "St. Petersburg", the first single supporting the album, made a disappointing debut at #22 in the UK singles chart. The second single, "Low C", also underperformed, entering outside the top 40, and third single, "Fin" failed to make the top 75 altogether (charting at number 111), though it was only released as a 7" vinyl and digital download. The band toured the world in an extensive schedule for about a year from August 2005 to September 2006, visiting Japanmarker, South America, USAmarker and Europe.

The band recorded their sixth studio album Diamond Hoo Ha with producer Nick Launey between January and November 2007 in Berlinmarker and New Yorkmarker, released in March 2008, although it leaked around late February. In September 2007, bassist Mick Quinn suffered two broken vertebrae and a broken heel while sleepwalking out of a first floor window in August in Francemarker. The band toured in the summer and autumn 2007, headlining Guilfestmarker among others and debuting new material, with the youngest sibling of the Coombes brothers Charly, deputising for Quinn on keyboard bass for their two Christmas shows in December at the Town Hall, Oxfordmarker. Since Quinn's return in January 2008, Charly has remained with Supergrass, playing second guitar, percussion & singing backup vocals for them on the Diamond Hoo Ha tour. They released their first single "Diamond Hoo Ha Man" - first as a free live song on the band's website - on 14 January 2008 on strictly limited edition 7" vinyl. In February 2008, the video of their second single "Bad Blood" was released on the band's official web-sites and the single followed on 17 March. From January till December 2008, the band were on a successful world tour, covering Europe, USA and Australia. A rockumentary called Glange Fever directed by Charly Coombes (under the name of Chas Harrison) was released on August 4 2008. The film follows the Diamond Hoo Ha Men band members Duke Diamond (Gaz) and Randy Hoo Ha (Danny) as they go on a small tour of the country. This song is also featured in the video game Need for Speed: Undercover as a song that plays while racing.

In 2008, on returning from their tour of the USA to promote Diamond Hoo Ha, Supergrass ended their contract with EMI. This was due to the lack of funding from the label for their single "Rebel In You", with the band instead resorting to releasing it through their newly formed independent label 'Supergrass Records'.

On independent career: 2009–present

The band headlined Wychwood Festival on 30 May and also Sellindge Music Festival (6 June), Provinssirock Festival (13 June) and a short European treck in July at BBK Live (10 July) at Bilbao, Bikini Festival (11 July) in Toulouse, Festival Les Ardentes (12 July ) in Liège (Belgium) and Paredes de Coura Festival (30 July) in Portugal. Also a co-headlining date at this year's Truck Festival along with Ash, on July 25 and 26 at Hill Farm in Steventon, Oxfordshire.

On July 30, 2009 it was announced that the band's seventh studio album, tentatively titled Release the Drones, will be released CD,Download & limited 12" vinyl on the Cooking Vinyl label. The band are shooting for a May 2010 release

Solo projects

During 1998, Coombes and Quinn were invited to play on Dr John's Anutha Zone album (they appear on the track "Voices In My Head"), whilst Goffey contributed to the debut album by Lodger (which also featured his partner Pearl Lowe and members of the band Delicatessen).

Danny Goffey has also embarked on a solo project between Supergrass engagements, called "Van Goffey" which saw tracks being released via MySpace in August 2006, the first three being "Crack House Blues", "I Feel so Gaye" and "Natalie Loves the F". He also is drummer on the charity football song Born In England by a collective of musicians called Twisted X, which charted at number 8 in the UK Charts in 2004. Danny Goffey was also a drummer in the 2004 charity single Band Aid 20, along with members of Radiohead and The Darkness.

In July, 2008, Coombes joined Foo Fighters on stage during a show that saluted The Who's musical career, VH1 Rock Honors. Coombes performed vocals on The Who's classic song "Bargain".

In 2007 and 2008, while Mick Quinn was still recuperating from his injury, Danny Goffey and Gaz Coombes were performing as a duo Diamond Hoo Ha Men, the name taken from the band's sixth album and its lead single (see above). They have been appearing in character as Duke Diamond and Randy Hoo Ha to play gigs at small venues. Gigs to date included an appearance at the Apple Store on London's Regent Street, which featured Mick Quinn's first appearance in the band since his injury. He appeared on stage introduced by Gaz as Biff Hymen.

Goffey and Coombes are currently undergoing a new side-project under the name The Hot Rats. They plan to release an album of covers similar to Pin Ups by David Bowie, which is to be produced by Nigel Godrich.

Discography



Awards

Year Ceremony Award Result
1995 Ivor Novello Awards Best Contemporary Song (Alright) Won
1995 Mercury Prize Best Album (I Should Coco) Nominated
1995 NME Awards Best New Band Won
1995 Q Awards Best New Act Won
1996 BRIT Awards British Breakthrough Act Won
1996 Silver Clef Awards New Music Won
1998 BRIT Awards Best British Video (Late In The Day) Nominated
2000 BRIT Awards Best British Video (Pumping on Your Stereo) Nominated
2008 UK Music Video Awards Best Rock Video (Bad Blood) Won


References

  1. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  2. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  3. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  4. John Peel's Festive 50's - 1977 - 2003
  5. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  6. Sutherland, Steve. I Should Coco review. NME. 13 May 1995.
  7. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  8. Supergrass - In It For The Money MP3 Downloads - 7digital
  9. Supergrass - guest program
  10. Supergrass Supergrass
  11. allmusic ((( Life on Other Planets > Overview )))
  12. BBC - Southampton Music - Supergrass
  13. [1]
  14. Supergrass release Release the Drones
  15. The Strange Ones Supergrass Site
  16. A cover of Drive My Car by The Beatles appears in an advert for Orange, a fragrance by Hugo Boss.


Further reading

  • True, Everett. Supergrass: The Illustrated Story. 1996. ISBN 0-600-589-773.
  • Holorny, Linda. Supergrass. 1996. ISBN 0-7119-5497-6
  • Allum, Greg. The Night Shines Like Fireflies: A Portrait of Supergrass in Berlin. 2007. ISBN 0-954-670-922


External links




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