Interview: Gaz Coombes

Gaz Coombes stunned everybody with the release of his sophomore solo album “Matador”. Not only did the record herald a new level of musicality for the ex-Supergrass songsmith, it also gave as candid a glimpse of the man as the public had ever witnessed. 2015 has since been a bumper year for Coombes, so as we approach its inevitable end, Jimmy Volts caught up with the man himself for a moment of reflection…

As the driving force behind one of the UK’s most successful and recognisable guitar bands, Gaz’s songwriting ability has never been in question. There’s no doubt however, that he graduated to a higher plane with his latest solo efforts. So, (putting it as nicely as possible) does he think he’s getting better with age?

“Well it’s very nice of people to say so. I’d like to think I’m always learning, evolving and moving forward. But I do feel as though something definitely clicked on this album. I think it documents the moment I really learned to let go a bit. And just explore whatever I wanted to explore in a kind of selfish way, I guess.”

Indeed, it seems Coombes experienced an artistic rebirth with this record, something he seems keen to underplay with a slightly nervous laugh. However, it does go some way towards explaining why the album has resonated so well. Our own review of the LP likened the enigmatic songwriter to other UK greats such as Thom Yorke and David Bowie and it seems we weren’t the only ones taken by it. The album received high praise from all corners of the industry. Perhaps its most notable stamp of approval came when “Matador” recently received a Mercury Prize nomination. Coombes reflects upon what has been a fantastic year.

“It’s certainly an exciting time.” He says awkwardly. “I’m just really happy the record’s connected with people. That’s why I do it y’know? When I wrote the opening track “Buffalo” quite early on, I realised there was a bit of a sonic template – something different I could pursue – a kind of interesting approach I wanted to explore. But it’s important for me to move forward y’know? I think some part of me is storing up all these memories to tap into later down the line maybe. But these days, there’s so much going on that I tend not to dwell or think too much on the present. I’m just excited for the next songs!”

Feeling somewhat humbled by his response, talk turns to his upcoming solo acoustic tour, which sees him trawling the UK this month, taking in some “off the beaten path” locations in the process. Gaz seems to immediately loosen up at this prospect, demonstrating that like most true rockers, the call of the road is one of the great pleasures of his work.

“The aim is always to try and get to as many places as you can, isn’t it?” He exclaims. “I have some fans in Scotland for example, who were giving me an earful for not going up there this run!” *Laughs*. “It’s tough man, because you can’t play everywhere. The way I see it, you’re always gonna let someone down. But this upcoming set of shows is gonna be really cool, because I’m going to lots of different places I’ve never played before.”

It’s not all firsts though, as his tour culminates right here in his old stomping ground of Brighton – a place he called home for nine years. So is he looking forward to returning? “Yeah, definitely. I can’t wait to get back to Brighton. I’ve still got quite a few friends down there, so I’m sure I’ll meet up with a few after the show. The good thing about Brighton is that not only is there a pub on every corner, but there’s usually a really decent pub on each corner! So, I’m sure we’ll wander off to a boozer and catch up with a few old mates. It’s gonna be great!” 


Gaz’s solo tour takes him to Komedia, Brighton on Dec 14
Tickets are completely sold out.
Doors open 7.30pm.

gazcoombes.com

Words by Jimmy Volts

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