Gaz Coombes

For­mer Su­per­grass leader homes in on “the in­tense ar­eas of life” for third solo al­bum.

Q (UK) - - 2018 New Music Avalanche - DAVE EVERLEY

Gaz Coombes was on hol­i­day ear­lier this year when he read Grayson Perry’s The De­scent Of Man. The Turner Prize-win­ning artist’s look at man­hood in the 21st cen­tury struck a chord with Coombes, him­self about as far away from the em­bod­i­ment of toxic mas­culin­ity as it gets. “It touches on how the male iden­tity is in trou­ble – how young men have this im­age of how they should be grow­ing up, how suc­cess means hav­ing your own per­sonal Trump Tower,” says the for­mer Su­per­grass singer. “He ques­tions the peo­ple he speaks to, but he never judges them – they’re just brought up to be tough guys.” The book in­spired Walk The Walk, a song from Coombes’s third solo LP, which con­jures images of a Trumpian char­ac­ter holed up in a com­pound, wear­ing sweat pants and a vest, fin­ger hov­er­ing over a big red but­ton. “I didn’t want it to be purely about him, cos there are enough other al­pha male char­ac­ters tram­pling over ev­ery­thing in front of them to get to the top,” he says. “It’s a delu­sional ex­is­tence, and at the same time it’s a dam­ag­ing one.” The yet-to-be-ti­tled al­bum picks up where 2015’ s Mata­dor left off. Songs such as the woozily puls­ing Deep Pock­ets, Oxy­gen Mu­sic (fea­tur­ing Ra­dio­head’s Colin Green­wood) and the grace­ful dis­con­nec­tion of The Oaks hitch Coombes’s in­nate pop sen­si­bil­i­ties to a de­ter­minedly ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach fu­elled by loops, dis­cor­dant du­elling gui­tars and the singer’s col­lec­tion of vin­tage synths. “There were a lot of things that I still had left to say mu­si­cally af­ter the last al­bum. Putting odd com­bi­na­tions to­gether, see­ing if I can make things work that shouldn’t. A bit of mad-sci­en­tist stuff.” The ef­fer­ves­cence of Coombes’s Brit­pop days has long been sup­planted by the wis­dom of age, though the 41- year-old in­sists the LP is “open and gre­gar­i­ous… it touches on the in­tense ar­eas of life, whether that’s ex­tremes of love and beauty, or your own flaws.” Those flaws in­spired the open­ing track, the iron­i­cally-ti­tled World’s Strong­est Man. “That’s about be­ing in a low place, sit­ting in your dress­ing grown, watch­ing TV think­ing, ‘When it comes to be­ing an im­per­fect idiot, I’m the world’s strong­est man.’ But I like it when things are im­per­fect and con­fus­ing. I’d worry if ev­ery­thing was just great.” There’s still po­ten­tial for things to fly off the rails when it comes to recre­at­ing the new songs on­stage. “I record ev­ery­thing I write and jam as I’m do­ing it, but the prob­lem comes later when I can’t re­mem­ber what I’ve been play­ing,” says Coombes wryly. He shouldn’t worry. Hon­esty trumps per­fec­tion ev­ery time.

“I like it when things are im­per­fect and con­fus­ing. I’d worry if ev­ery­thing was just great.”

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Gaz Coombes: “open and gre­gar­i­ous” on his new of­fer­ing

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