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Interview: Gaz Coombes Talks Solo Music and Astrology

Interview: Gaz Coombes Talks Solo Music and Astrology

Steve Mathieson / Monday 17th September, 2018 3:12PM

Auckland songwriter Steve Mathieson (Lunavela, Collapsing Cities ) recently spoke with Britpop icon Gaz Coombes, ahead of tonight’s headline performance at Auckland’s Tuning Fork. Mathieson's solo project Lunavela released his long-awaited self-titled EP in late 2017, and will unveil a new collection in 2019.

Gaz Combes, the voice and songwriter of one of the best UK bands from the 90’s Supergrass, released his third solo album World’s Strongest Man in April and it’s his best yet. From the pop nugget ‘Wounded Egos’ to the Radiohead-esque ‘The Oaks’, this album gets stuck in your head. The groovy, tight bass hook and gospel backing vocals on ‘Walk the Walk’ makes for one of the best songs on the album. World’s Strongest Man delves into a more experimental approach for Coombes, and it works. The thing that I’ve always admired about his songwriting is his ability to write fantastic upbeat pop songs as well as beautiful introspective mellow songs. Go see him live at Auckland's Tuning Fork, I’m sure he will throw in some Supergrass bangers as well.

How’s the tour going?

Good man, good.

Congrats on the new album. It’s really good and feels like a really cohesive album. The album feels like a playful catharsis, tell me about your songwriting process, how has it changed?

Obviously it’s changed from the working band approach. Doing demos from home, I have my own space, I have better gear, more focus, and I know it’s gonna sound great. I guess, more confidence.

Having my own studio the writing and recording happens at the same time. It’s kind of isolated, then I take them to Ian Davenport (who produced Supergrass’ Diamond Hoo Ha, Band of Skulls) co-producer, Courtyard Studios and we shape the ideas, y’know.

Are there any places to play that you haven’t played, or dream collaborations?

India would be amazing, Africa, South America. I’ve never played Chile or Argentina. Collabs - I did a performance with Midlake at the Shepherds’ Bush Empire. I sung on ‘Young Bride’ off The Trials of Van Occupanther. It was such a privilege, I love that record. Low pressure, fun, win-win y’know. It works on every level.

Also, In the 2000s I fronted the Foo Fighters, it was kind of scary pressure, Dave’s voice had gone. We were on tour supporting them and in the encore of The Who’s ‘Bargain’. The first night we did it Dave’s voice had gone and I had a teleprompter with the lyrics and it stopped working in the first verse. The machine broke and I blagged my way through the first verse. Then it caught up. We’d been partying the night before backstage and Dave’s voice was fucked. Groundhog Day. Such a tight band.

I’ve always admired the way you managed to be ubiquitous in the Britpop era, but still be a little bit mysterious. How did you pull that off?

We stayed in the bubble of the band, from a small village. We never moved to London. In terms of perception. Creatively it was next level, we could just focus on making good records y’now.

Do you still chat with the other band members?

Yeh, I just spoke to Danny (Goffey) before, we are still good mates. We’ve got a few things in the pipeline. I can’t really talk about it though.

The last time you played in New Zealand was in 1999 at the Big Day Out. What can we expect from the live show in September?

It’s a one-man show. Set up with drum machines, guitar, piano. Playing the new songs they translate really well live, how I wrote them, that kind of intimacy and a good connection. It will be real fun. I usually throw in a few Supergrass tunes too.

Can I request ‘St Petersburg’?

Haha, maybe. Usually if the crowd are tough I’ll throw in some Supergrass songs.

Ok, I’m going to ask some silly / dumb less obvious questions now:

Coffee or tea?


Slayer or Metallica.


Favourite sci-fi film?

2001 A Space Odyssey.

Favourite Britpop album that you weren’t part of?

Pulp A Different Class.

Of the Supergrass songs, what is your favourite to play live?

‘Caught By The Fuzz’ is still fun to play.

Least favourite board game?


Astrology - rubbish or some truths to it?

Who the fuck knows, maybe.

Favourite New Zealand band?

Umm. Um.

The Chills, I won’t mention my ex-band.

Haha, I’ll get back to you on that one.

Rihanna or Kanye (music only, not personality)?


What’s the most ridiculous rumour about you that you’ve heard?

That I died. It was in between albums, it quickly got dismissed. It was pretty funny though.


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Gaz Coombes (Supergrass)
Mon 17th Sep
The Tuning Fork, Auckland