World’s Strongest Man: Gaz Coombes on how mental health and masculinity shaped his new album

"It’s not an unusual thing at the moment to be questioning areas of humanity"

Gaz Coombes has opened up on how ideals of masculinity and his own struggles with mental health shaped the sound of his upcoming third solo record.

The former Supergrass frontman is gearing up to release ‘World’s Strongest Man’ in May this year, the follow up to 2015’s Mercury Prize nominated ‘Matador’.

As he discussed the record with NME, Coombes explained how he took inspiration from ‘The Descent Of Man’, after reading Grayson Perry’s acclaimed exploration of masculinity on holiday.

“I’d already got halfway through the record and I went on holiday during the summer and that was just my summer reading.  It was the catalyst for more lyrics to come and the name of the title track”, he told NME.

“It was a very eye opening read, that book, incredibly well written and very non judgemental and sensitive and very eye opening. It’s not an unusual thing at the moment to be questioning areas of humanity and what makes us decent human beings and that was something I really wanted to achieve while writing a lot of these lyrics.

“But it’s also sort of about one’s own kind inadequacies or vulnerabilities, or being a man, being a human, being a father. It just felt right.”

The record is also set to take on a personal side too – with Coombes explaining how his previous struggles with mental health found their way onto the record.

“I’ve seen awareness of mental health change over the last decade. I think men are becoming a lot freer to be able to talk about their head space and I think it’s something that I’ve had a lot of issues with over the years, with anxiety and depression”, he said.

“Why shouldn’t it be something you can be open about or put a reference to in some lyrics? I I just love to observe and to put into my lyrics little lines here and there,  for me kind of reflect about what’s happening.

Describing the album title, he added: “With the album title there’s the element of the alpha male ruining it for everyone else, whether its world leaders or high profile celebrities, you know I just think everyone’s tired of it.

“We’re tired of that alpha male thing. I think we can all be strong, you can be a strong man but consider yourself a strong human being. It doesn’t always have to be separated into an ‘I’m the guy with the muscles and I run the show’ kind of thing.

Coombes will promote the new record with an initial London show at ULU on February 28 – his first solo gig since January 2016, when he sold out the Roundhouse in the capital.