Supergrass tell us about their reunion and 2020 tour: “We’re going to bring joy into a slightly disturbed world”

The reunion that no one was expecting, Supergrass are back a decade after their split to celebrate 25 years since seminal debut 'I Should Coco' with tour dates in the UK, Europe and US, and an all-encompassing box set. Frontman Gaz Coombes talks exclusively to Andrew Trendell about getting back in the saddle with his "musical brothers" and shining a light on the "life" that they brought to music.

“It’s pretty wild, actually,” Gaz Coombes tells NME just moments before Supergrass are due on stage for their “surprise” reunion show at Glastonbury’s Pilton Party. “We’ve had an intense week of rehearsing to get back into the swing and it’s sounding pretty amazing. We just plugged in and started playing, and you just feel those moves that we all play together. It’s like our legs are tied with rope. It’s quite bizarre, but I guess that chemistry never goes away.”

Splitting in 2010, the Oxford indie veterans cited “musical differences” and a “17 year itch” for going their separate ways. Having soundtracked many a good time during the ’90s, Supergrass outlived many of their Britpop peers to explore a wider sonic terrain and enjoy relevance in the first decade of the 21st Century until relations broke down while recording the “chaotic” and krautrock-influenced ‘Release The Drones’. It would never be released.

Now, having enjoyed solo careers and years apart, they’re back with news of a theatre tour for 2020 and a sprawling, all encompassing ‘best of’ box set, ‘The Strange Ones: 1994-2008’. We caught up with Coombes to find out why now felt alright, and what else they might have up their sleeves…

When did you guys decide that now was the time for Supergrass to return?

“We’ve been talking about it for a while. I remember talking to Danny about on the phone maybe a year ago. We knew that 2020 was coming up and that would make it 25 years since the beginning and 10 years since the split. Everything aligned in a way to make it possible. The idea of getting in a room and having a play together again was something we all instinctively agreed would be a cool thing to do. Just to play those songs again and get in a room. That was it, really – it was no more than that. We didn’t want to look far into the distance. We just wanted to play and see what happens. It felt great.”

“Yeah, there were arguments – but nothing that meant if we met up in a pub that we wouldn’t be able to talk about other stuff”

How have you guys been getting on over the last 10 years? Was there any animosity that needed laying to rest?

“We’re all close, anyway. It wasn’t an issue of anyone hating the sight of anyone else or full-on crazy arguments. The studio session broke down for a lot of different reasons. Yeah, a lot of them were arguments – but nothing that meant if we met up in a pub that we wouldn’t be able to talk about other stuff. We were working so intensely together at the end that it just wasn’t really firing in the right way. In the following years we were still cool. It’s all good.”

So if they made Supergrass: The Movie, the last 10 years wouldn’t make for very dramatic scenes?

“Well I think it could be dramatic individually! With all our separate lives, we’ve had an incredible amount going on over the last decade – but that’s for another time I guess. It’s all good, man. It’s good to be with my musical brothers again for a bit. We’re going to do some shows in 2020 and it’s going to be cool.”

“There was an irreverence and a joy to our band, and a lack of earnest pretence – but we had the tunes to back it up too”

When the Pilton Party rumours surfaced, there was a lot of excitement. What do you think that Supergrass have that’s been lacking in music lately?

“I think there was an irreverence and a joy to our band, and a lack of earnest pretence. We didn’t take things to seriously and that would come across in a lot of different ways. But we had the tunes to back it up too. We had this clout. Tracks like ‘Richard III’, ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ or ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, they have a humour but we took it to heart and took it seriously. I don’t know what’s different these days. I find the music industry quite exciting at the moment because it’s so new and embryonic in so many ways. It’s quite mad. Where the fuck is it going to go? I’m quite interested to be on that journey and see where it goes. I’m fascinated to see where Supergrass fits in with all that next year. We’re going to have a laugh and bring that Supergrass energy and joy into a slightly disturbed world.”

You could say there’s a sense of ‘life’ to Supergrass…

“Yeah, you’re right. Even the way we picked up after that first rehearsal just had an energy that was unique to us. That’s what makes rock n’ roll bands so great. They all have a unique energy that makes them who they are. I’m proud of what we worked on and built on over the years. It’s going to be exciting to celebrate that.”

“All of the rarities and uncovered stuff has been found by us rooting through cardboard boxes in our basements and finding mini discs and cassettes”

Tell us about that ‘best of’ box set you’ve got coming out.

“It’s pretty definitive, man. We’ve worked on it a lot. It’s a really band-driven piece as opposed to a retrospective record company release without the band’s knowledge. All of the rarities and uncovered stuff has been found by us rooting through cardboard boxes in our basements and finding mini discs and cassettes. It’s been cool to have a few months to just explore all of that stuff. God knows how we got anything done because there’s insane amounts of nonsense on all of these tapes of us just making weird little songs and jokey things. The box set is going to be pretty comprehensive, man – it’s got everything. I’ve just seen it all laid out and it looks brilliant.”

Supergrass, group portrait, Monmouth, United Kingdom, 2002. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

Will there be unheard material?

“Yeah, there are a few unheard tracks then there are just some studio outtakes and session outtakes, all of the B-sides, plus live albums and some key gigs over the years. It’s full to the brim!”

“This is about celebrating all of those great songs and having a laugh together live, really. There are no studio plans”

Will fans ever get to hear songs from ‘Release The Drones’?

“Nah, that’s not what this is about. This is about celebrating all of those great songs and having a laugh together live, really. There are no studio plans. It’s about getting together and blasting it out across big fields. Obviously we’ll see how it goes. I try to never say never to anything really.”

Gaz Coombes, Mick Quinn, Danny Goffey and Rob Coombes of Supergrass pose for a group shot on May 1, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)

You’ve had a successful solo career. How is it to change gears from that back to Supergrass mode?

“I’m trying! It’s cool, man. Today is quite mad because I’m getting in the zone for the show. It’s a different feeling. There’s going to be a transition, but it’s just great to hang out with the boys again. I’m between albums three and four myself so it’s a great opportunity to have a little break and join my beautiful brothers on stage.”

“I’m between albums three and four myself so it’s a great opportunity to have a little break and join my beautiful brothers on stage”

Does playing Pilton Party mean we’ll see you at Glastonbury 2020 then?

“I don’t think I can say anything about that! I think we shall leave that in the hands of the Gods.”

Supergrass’ 2020 tour dates

Tickets are on sale from 9am on Friday September 13

SEPTEMBER 2020

9 – Oslo, Hackney – SOLD OUT

FEBRUARY 2020

4 – Paris, France – Casino de Paris
5 – Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique
7 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
14 – Dublin, Republic of Ireland – Olympia Theatre
17 – Belfast, Northern Ireland – Ulster Hall
20 – Glasgow, Scotland – Barrowland Ballroom
24 – Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England – O2 Academy Newcastle
26 – Manchester, England – O2 Victoria Warehouse
29 – Leeds, England – O2 Academy Leeds

MARCH 2020

3 – Birmingham, England – O2 Academy Birmingham
6 – London, England – Alexandra Palace

APRIL 2020

1 – Los Angeles – Wiltern
9 – New York, NY – Brooklyn Steel

Supergrass: ‘The Strange Ones 1994-2008’ – the ‘Best Of’

Released January 24, 2020 on a variety of formats. See them all below and pre-order here.

FULL FORMAT INFORMATION:

DELUXE BOX SET

All 6 studio albums on heavyweight vinyl picture discs:
‘I Should Coco’, ‘In It For The Money’, ‘Supergrass’, ‘Life On Other Planets’, ‘Road To Rouen’, ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’

13 CDs:

1 x 6CD set – All 6 original studio albums in new digipack
1 x 4CD set – Live: Over 5 hours of previously unreleased performances spanning their entire career. Includes radio sessions, full production live shows and acoustic sets
1 x 2CD set – Remixes, B-sides, non-album singles, acoustic versions and other rarities. Includes tracks previously unreleased digitally
1 x 1CD – Demos, out-takes and oddities. All previously unreleased
7” single:
‘Caught By The Fuzz’ / ‘Richard III’ 2020 Remixes

Deluxe book:
52 pages, containing unseen band photos and essays on the original albums by Everett True, Charles Shaar Murray, Sylvia Patterson, Andrew Male, Adam Sweeting, Paul Moody. Band quotes from interviews with Matt Everitt

Full colour posters x 4:
3 reproduced original tour posters and one band photo poster

Colour button badges x 8:
From the ‘Supergrass Is 10’ sleeve artwork – 4 x 2”, 4 x 1.5”

2LP

Compiled by Supergrass
Gatefold sleeve with heavyweight vinyl
26 career-spanning tracks: 9 top 20 hits, including 5 top 10s
12 page, 12” insert containing sleeve notes, band quotes, rare band photos

Tracklist (same as for the digital album):

Side 1

1. Diamond Hoo Ha Man
2. Bad Blood
3. Outside
4. Rebel In You
5. Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)
6. St. Petersburg

Side 2

1. Fin
2. Kiss Of Life
3. Brecon Beacons
4. Rush Hour Soul
5. Seen The Light
6. Grace
7. Moving

Side 3

1. Mary
2. Beautiful People
3. Pumping On Your Stereo
4. In It For The Money
5. Richard III
6. Late In The Day

Side 4

1. Sun Hits The Sky
2. She’s So Loose
3. Mansize Rooster
4. Strange Ones
5. Lenny
6. Alright
7. Caught By The Fuzz

1CD

Compiled by Supergrass
Gatefold sleeve softpack
22 career-spanning tracks: 9 top 20 hits, including 5 top 10s
Extended booklet containing sleevenotes with band quotes, rare band photos

Tracklist:

1. Diamond Hoo Ha Man
2. Outside
3. Rebel In You
4. Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)
5. St. Petersburg
6. Fin
7. Kiss Of Life
8. Brecon Beacons
9. Seen The Light
10. Grace
11. Moving
12. Mary
13. Beautiful People
14. Pumping On Your Stereo
15. In It For The Money
16. Richard III
17. Late In The Day
18. Sun Hits The Sky
19. Mansize Rooster
20. Lenny
21. Alright
22. Caught By The Fuzz