Interview – Supergrass

INDIE pop stalwarts Supergrass are undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories of British music over the last 15 years. After bursting on to the scene when Alright shot to the top of the charts and made instant celebrities of the band, they have enjoyed popularity with fans and critics alike over the course of six albums. Rob Moore spoke to drummer Danny Goffey about Britpop, teaching Brazilians how to play football and playing a completely silent gig.

DANNY Goffey was expelled from Wheatley School in Oxforshire aged 17 for compulsive smoking, insolence and regular non-attendance. But just before this point he met a boy called Gaz Coombes and the pair have known nothingother than being in one of Britain’s best bands.  So, at the age of 34, you have to wonder if he is really looking forward to leaving his home to play in Australia?

“I can’t wait,” he says excitedly. “When we tour overseas it just feels like we’re a bunch of friends who meet at the airport before going off on holiday. It seems so long ago the last time we were there. It’s such a shame that it’s so bloody far away. But a tour like this is exciting because it’s such a cool place to go to. It will be a real luxurious treat for us.”

He probably deserves a break because, as well as his work with Supergrass, Danny has recently  been working on a special project with unmistakable lead singer Coombes – a situation which largely came about due to the band’s enforced break, after bass player Mick Quinn fell out of a first floor window while sleepwalking on holiday in France, breaking two vertebrae and his heel.

“The accident wasn’t very funny for Mick, but kind of funny for us. Seriously though, he was laid up in hospital and took six months to get out. It was a rough time, but the morphine made sure Mick was alright and we couldn’t just sit around. It wasn’t really planned but the show had to go on and me and Gaz had a few ideas for songs and put a little project together with just guitar and drums that we took on tour. And we’ll be releasing an album as the Diamond Hoo Ha Men next year. “

But for now they are concentrating on what they do best and have toured the world with their latest album over the last six months. They have also added a third member of the Coombes family, Gaz and Rob’s youngest brother Charly, to the group – which Goffey feels has added a new dimension to the band’s sound.

“This album is a lot more rock ‘n’ roll and people can expect it to be louder and faster than the quieter, acoustic tour we did with Road To Rouen. With Charly in the band, the live gigs are just mental.

“The latest album has seen us attract a lot younger crowds who are growing into the band. As we’ve got older it seems like anything goes in terms of our crowd. You pick up all different kinds of different fans over 15 years. Even this week we were in Coventry – which is a very weird place – but the crowd was fantastic with all the kids jumping up and down at the front and the all-knowing oldies at the back just acting cool and getting pissed.”

Speaking while on tour in the UK before heading Down Under, Danny then said a very, very strange thing.

“We are playing a silent gig in Brighton tonight.” The only response was inevitably “What?”

“Yeah, the audience all have headphones and the music is all directly inputted through the mix desk into their ears. It’s bizarre. “I’ll be hitting electronic drum pads and won’t be able to hear a thing. I don’t really see the point to be honest. I think it’s just a gimmick. “It might be interesting to do once but there’s no way it can catch on, is there? We are just going to hear a load of feet shuffling. At least it’s going to make it easier to order a drink at the bar or chat up a girl.”

Well, that closes the book on the band’s oddest gig, but after playing so many shows, in so many venues, in so many countries, what were his most memorable and favourite gigs?

“There are probably two that stand out most inmy mind. I remember a show in Brazil back in 1996 being absolutely mental, and everyone just going nuts on various substances, and another in Brazil last year when I broke my foot the night before playing football with some local kids. “I needed injections in my arse to be able to get up there and play. It was especially stupid as I was only pretending to play football – there wasn’t even a ball there. “I was trying to act out the famous Ryan Giggs goal against Arsenal and my foot gave way and all the kids just sat around laughing at me. “My favourite ever gig was actually just a few months ago in July at Webster Hall in New York City. It was a great atmosphere, we played really well, my Mrs, my daughter Daisy (Lowe, the model) and a load of friends were there and it was just amazing. “I’ll always remember T in the Park in 95 as well. Our first album had just come out and it was the first time we had experienced a crowd chanting our names. That kind of thing will live with you forever.”

Having been one of the few bands to emerge from the Britpop era and enjoy serious longevity, I wondered why Danny thinks they have been able to survive and stand the test of time.

“We don’t really look at it as having survived, but I guess it’s just because we have been moving into a lot of different types of song and, importantly, most of them have been good. “

And were the memories from the Britpop heyday still his most cherished?

“It was a great time. But we couldn’t look at it objectively as it was the era we started in and we were just overwhelmed to be welcomed and gain popularity straight away. “It was exhilarating and scary and of course we doubted if we could pull it off, but we knew the music was pretty good and we had a good feeling recording it. “I always remember it being a beautiful, glorious summer and we were in the right place at the right time as Alright definitely captured something there.”

And what does the future hold for Supergrass?

“We have been through quite a lot together and have the ability to pull through the hard stuff and quite severe situations. Amazingly, we still talk to each other, still have fun and nobody’s died – yet. We are all good friends who love to travel and all of us write the songs, so they have never shown any sign of drying up. Even if we go off and do a few different projects, the future of the band isn’t in jeopardy – you can’t get rid of us that easily.”