Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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Supergrass, awful pool-sharks, still great band

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

As the cue ball banks off the wrong corner and sinks the black ball again, I can't help but say "bloody hell," as I dig the accursed ball out of the pocket. At the same time, Supergrass guitarist Danny Goffey lets out a light chuckle as he sets down his white Russian and lines up his next shot.

According to the improvised rules we have agreed upon, he now gets two shots during his next turn. The rationale behind this rule – we both really, really suck at pool.

While we continue our second game of pool up on the second floor of the Rivoli Club in downtown Toronto, a camera crew sets up behind us for a television interview, and beside us a photographer props up some expensive looking lights for a photo shoot. In the meantime, Goffey has about half an hour to kill, so we keep bouncing the pool balls around on the oversized snooker table in a vain attempt to sink them.

When Goffey finally sits down with me for our scheduled interview I can see him squirm a bit at the thought of yet another university kid asking him questions about the band and their new album Life on Other Planets. After a few well-placed compliments – and perhaps a few more white Russians – he finally warms up.

"We wrote in the south of France instead of going to a rehearsal room in London, or to each others houses," Goffey explains. "We decided to go there just to hang out. We took a couple acoustic guitars, a piano and rented some chateaus. We got drunk, ate a lot of good food, played around in the swimming pool and were really able to regroup as a band. It was a good change of pace living together for a bit outside of a work environment. We wrote hundreds of new songs too, but didn't use any of them!"

Daring, vibrant and explosive like a pack of Pop Rocks in a can of soda pop, Supergrass has had no difficulty tapping their creative juices for their fourth album. However, Goffey admits that the constant media circus, and publicity blitzing in support of the new album, can be a bit draining.

"It gets strange at the end of an album talking about the songs again. When you're asked about it you're like, 'Fuck, I don't know, it's a song.' At the start, the interviews are fun. You say things you haven't thought about, especially in good interviews where they ask you about the songs and not what you think about Brit-pop," Goffey says. He then jokes, "So what do I think about Brit-pop?"

Having eyed the ancient four-track recorder I'm taping our conversation on, lead singer Gaz Comombes wanders over and, with some coaxing from Goffey, attempts to elaborate and describe the writing process from his own perspective.

"That's the beauty of it man, it's just this spur of the moment thing that happens," Comombes says. "When someone asks me where it came from, I can't just say I don't know. How can I explain to you how this bit of magic happened? It's just a feeling, man. You start hammering away at something and if you like it, and it works – great," Comombes says.

Goffey, and Comombes both admit though that some of the songs were given an opportunity to grow in concert first before being released to the general masses.

"When we played Rush Hour Soul at Redding, we didn't even have lyrics for it," Goffey explains. "We were just singing rubbish. I remember seeing it on TV later, and Gaz's eyes were a bit freaked out, he didn't even know what he was singing!"

As our interview winds down and the camera crews prepare for their allotted 15 minutes with the band, I thank Goffey and wish him well. I may have lost two games of pool to him, but how often do you get to lose a game of pool to a rock star?

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