Gaz Coombes: 'Music is favourite way, in fact it might be the only way, I can express myself'
- Henry Northmore
- 15 October 2018
Former Supergrass front man tours his third solo album World's Strongest Man
It's almost a cliché when a band breaks up due to 'musical differences' and the frontman goes solo. Most crash and burn however Gaz Coombes bucked the trend. Once the lead vocalist / guitarist with Britpop favourites Supergrass (behind the heady delights of 'Alright' and 'Pumping on Your Stereo') Coombes seems to have found even more freedom to express himself since the release of Here Come the Bombs in 2012.
Each subsequent album has found an artist and musician growing in confidence. 2015's Matador was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize while this year's World's Strongest Man finds Coombes experimenting with multiple genres, apparently inspired by Frank Ocean and Grayson Perry.
When we talk he has literally just landed after a tour of Australia, New Zealand and America but is still happy to discuss the new album, the upcoming tour and the Britpop years.
Have you enjoyed the freedom being solo offers you as an artist?
It's all a work in progress. I spent 25 years in a band, writing together as a band, so I didn't necessarily explore what my voice is, we created a single voice between us. That's been really challenging but also really satisfying to explore over the last five years. Having the freedom to explore whatever I feel like in the moment has been very liberating and exciting.
The album's been out for a few months now, how do you feel when you listen back to World's Strongest Man?
I'm kind of wary of thematic vibes because each song has a separate role, a snapshot of my brain over the two year period of writing. There are all sorts of different emotions and moods on the record, there are tracks that are light and airy but then 'Vanishing Act' is a blow by blow account of a panic attack, so is a lot heavier in that way. For me it's just being honest and open and not holding anything back, be it euphoric happiness or being deep down in a hole, I want to show it as it is.
How do you feel about being so honest and open in such a public way?
Music is great, you can be more visceral at times and more abstract at others. I like to deliver a couple of lines that are quite direct and hard hitting then I might float around and get more abstract and poetic, pepper it with little Easter eggs of chaos. So it doesn't feel as personal as me unloading my darkest fears conversationally. In conversation I think things have more personal gravity but with an album the music also plays a part, not only the lyrics but the chord changes, to explore that emotion. It's my favourite way, in fact it might be the only way, I can express myself in the fullest way.