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Gaz Coombes

+ {The Hotrats}

Born Gareth Michael Coombes, 8 March,1976, Oxford, England, “Gaz” was known foremost as singer/guitarist with SUPERGRASS; and a man identified by rather large sideburns much as in the same way as MUNGO JERRY in the 70s, and MOTORHEAD’s Lemmy until the day he passed. Together with drummer Danny Goffey and bassist Mick Quinn (Gaz’s older brother Rob played keyboards as 4th member), SUPERGRASS were an integral part of the fruitful Britpop scene after hitting pay-dirt in October ’94 with the seminal, `Caught By The Fuzz’. A taster for 1995’s “I Should Co” (which topped the album charts in May ’95), the trio maintained a solid support for the ensuing decade and a half; a plethora of hit singles graced five other albums up to the dazzling “Diamond Hoo Ha” (2008); they officially split two years later.
But the SUPERGRASS story had only just turned another page, or indeed turned back a few chapters retrospectively as Gaz and Danny as The HOTRATS threw in a psychedelic/punk-splattered covers set, TURN ONS (2010) {*7}. Cranking up the voluminous task on production, Nigel Godrich played his part in giving each track the SUPERGRASS spin, the most wayward being the almost unrecognisable re-vamp of the BEASTIE BOYS’ `(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ and a strum-friendly take of GANG OF FOUR’s `Damaged Goods’; others on show were:-`I Can’t Stand It’ (LOU REED), `Big Sky’ (The KINKS), `The Crystal Ship’ (The DOORS), `Love Is The Drug’ (ROXY MUSIC), `Bike’ (PINK FLOYD), `Pump It Up’ (ELVIS COSTELLO), `The Lovecats’ (The CURE), `Queen Bitch’ (DAVID BOWIE), `E.M.I.’ (The SEX PISTOLS) and `Up The Junction’ (SQUEEZE).
With SUPERGRASS and his other diversions out of the way, GAZ COOMBES was clear to get his experimental “Radiohead” on, and on through his debut solo set HERE COME THE BOMBS (2012) {*6}. A transitional album in many respects (but one that lacked modern-day Top 50 appeal), Gaz grew out of his Britpop boots and got a little sonic and surging on the likes of `Simulator’, `Hot Fruit’ (the name of his new record imprint), `Break The Silence’ and `Whore’. What a difference a few years makes.
Armed with a darker balladry and songs to suit his lush vocal tones, COOMBES deservedly shot into the Top 20 with album two MATADOR (2015) {*7}. Former golden-boy Gaz shimmered and shimmied his way through nearly a dozen trips of languid acoustica and electronica. Very much in awe to the sounds of kraut-rock/KRAFTWERK, `Detroit’ and the ARCADE FIRE-esque `The English Ruse’ (interpolated by a line from “The Clapping Song”) were in stark contrast to the pastel-folk of `The Girl Who Fell To Earth’; also opener `Buffalo’, `20/20’ and `Oscillate’ proved groovy Gaz was no one-trick-pony.
2018’s WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN {*8} was certainly COOMBES’s grandest album yet, and one that just about reached Top 10 proportions. Turning 40 not so far back gave Gaz the chance to explore his inner demons, though most of this digital-age set was dipped in a reflective pond of subtle humour. Co-produced with Ian Davenport, there was room in their Oxford studio for RADIOHEAD’s bassist Colin Greenwood and several session people, including strummers Garo Nahoulakian and Nick Fowler. Of the album itself, the opening title track hit some glorious high notes, whilst “graftwerk Gaz” got into a garage or a giddy groove on best bits, `Deep Pockets’, `Shit (I’ve Done It Again)’, `Vanishing Act’ and `Wounded Egos’.
© MC Strong/MCS Sep2012-May2018

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