Gaz Coombes says he's now Alright about past 'painful' Supergrass split – as band reunite for tour

GAZ Coombes, frontman of Oxford band Supergrass, said it has taken him 10 years to recover from the group’s painful split before he could think about getting the band back together. The band announced they were to reform last year and kick off a tour of Europe and the USA next month. Wheatley singer-songwriter Gaz has built a successful career as a solo artist since the break up, releasing three albums, but has said he is happy to tour with his bandmates for a year.

The tour begins at the Coventry Empire on January 30, before moving on to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Dublin then returning to the UK – with the closest gigs to Oxford being the O2 Academy Birmingham on March 3 and 4 and North London’s Alexandra Palace on March 6 and 7. It then moves on to New York before returning for a short series of racecourse gigs, including Windsor on August 29. Hopeful fans, however, remain confident that a hometown show will be announced along with the possibility of a local festival set – possibly even at Truck Festival in Steventon, which witnessed one of the band’s last shows before they broke up.

Read more: Welcome to KITE – the new three-day festival of music and ideas in Oxfordshire countryside Gaz, 43, said the band’s split in 2010, during the recording of scrapped seventh album Release The Drones, had taken its toll on him. “We needed that distance of time to forget some of the… pain,” he told Q Magazine. “At the end.

It was… painful. I needed 10 years.” He also warned fans not to expect new music from the four-piece.

“I don’t want to rule anything out, but that’s not part of it,” he said. “It’s just this one year I’m up for – doing these gigs.”

Supergrass were one of the biggest bands of the 90s, scoring six top 20 albums, three of them platinum – including 1995’s I Should Coco, which was the biggest-selling debut for Parlophone since the Beatles released Please Please Me in 1963. Hits included chart-topper Alright, Richard III, Sun Hits The Sky, Pumping On Your Stereo, Moving and Grace. Read more: Cornbury Festival announces first headliners for summer 2020

The shows by Gaz and bandmates Danny and Nic Goffey and Andy Davies will be accompanied by a new career-spanning box set, marking the 25th anniversary of I Should Coco. The box set is called The Strange Ones 1994-2008 – taking its name from a song inspired by the people they knew living around Oxford’s Cowley Road. The band lived in East Oxford as their careers took off.

One of the last dates the band played before their split was Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival in July 2009. Band members have been busy in the interim. While Gaz released albums Here Come the Bombs, the Mercury Prize nominated Matador and World’s Strongest Man, Danny has released solo material including last year’s Schtick.

Read more: airport Convention’s Cropredy Festival reveals 2020 line-up Gaz, who was first to quit the band, said he still felt responsible for its sudden demise. He said of recording the aborted Release The Drones album: “I remember feeling uninspired.

“You’d take CDs with you on your journey home and it was the first time I’d never play them to anyone, which was weird. “I was trying to be optimistic, thinking that they weren’t ready, but I just wasn’t digging it. I just felt quite sad about it, really.”

Gaz Coombes says he's now Alright about past 'painful' Supergrass split – as band reunite for tour The Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello-nominated artist said his lowest point came when Supergrass played their latest music to a potential new label. He said: “We played them two or three tracks and I was sitting there thinking: ‘These aren’t very good.’

“It just felt horrible and demoralising. It was painful and I didn’t see a way out apart from leaving the band. Read again: Gaz hits high note with Live in Oxford EP

“I felt responsible. I didn’t want to [mess] things up for anyone else. But once I’d decided to leave, I felt really good, that weight had gone.

I had no thoughts about doing any music on my own, I just wanted to not have that feeling with music before it got too much and did any damage.” The artist, who moved back to his childhood home with his family from Brighton in 2006, has, until now, distanced himself from Supergrass, insisting many of his fans now know him through his solo work rather than a member of his former band. In recent years he has played Truck and Cornbury festivals, headlined Oxford’s Ritual Union event and, last May, became one of the first rock artists to have performed at the city’s Sheldonian Theatre.

That show, which helped celebrate the venue’s 350th anniversary, saw Gaz perform a bespoke set with the 42-piece Hot Fruit Orchestra, with music arranged and conducted by composer Luke Lewis. The ‘scratch’ orchestra was made up of students, professors and alumni of the Oxford University Faculty of Music, none of whom had previously played together as an ensemble. Gaz Coombes says he's now Alright about past 'painful' Supergrass split – as band reunite for tour

Gaz was joined by a band made up of long term collaborators, including rock guitarists Nick ‘Growler’ Fowler and Garo Nahoulakian, Carterton drummer Mike Monaghan and backing singers ‘The Roxys’ (Piney Gir, Emma Brammer and Samantha Whates). Money raised at the concert was donated to Oxford charities Yellow Submarine, which supports people with learning difficulties, and the Young Women’s Music Project (YWMP) – which aims to get more girls and women into contemporary music. A live EP recorded during the show was released in December, mixed by the Faculty of Music’s studio manager, Dan Hulme.

Read again: Rock star Gaz raises roof at historic Oxford venue – and boost two great causes Gaz, who lives with his family in Wheatley, said of the show: “It was such a seat of the pants performance on the night, but that’s how I like it – that’s when strange and magic things happen. “We only had a couple of run throughs on the day with Luke and the orchestra.

I felt we were all playing on instinct, propelling each other forward. In that setting, with the lights and orchestra, it kind of felt like Christmas – in May.” The show received a five-star review from the Oxford Times.

The venue was provided for free as part of the Sheldonian Theatre Curators’ 350th Anniversary Community Engagement Scheme. The four-track vinyl is out through Caroline International. It features tracks The Girl Who Fell To Earth, The Oaks, Walk The Walk and Slow Motion Life.

Supergrass tour the UK, Europe and New York this year, starting with the Coventry Empire on January 30 Tickets and further details from

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