Noise Annoys

With its latest album, In It for the Money, Supergrass turns sonic clutter into highly interesting listening

It's amazing that the band was still concentrating so much on music while the whirl and glare of stardom was all around. To this day, for all its success, the band still seems very much like, well, a band, whose members do what they enjoy and enjoy what they do. Goffey is quick with a self-deprecating joke and seems to be beyond the point at which press accolades really matter.

Supergrass didn't spend a lot of time worrying about the lukewarm reception for In It for the Money; there were tours to be done and records to be made. The group's third album, called simply Supergrass, was released in the U.K. in 1999. Again, there was no stylistic agenda beforehand.

"No, that would seem really unspontaneous," Goffey says, "because all three of us write. I write a lot of songs on piano, and Gaz writes a lot on guitar, and we each have our own styles. There are always a lot of songs around, and we just kind of go along like that. Everyone has their own idea what they want to do."

Supergrass, still pumping on your stereo.
Supergrass, still pumping on your stereo.

Having said that, Goffey admits that the third album turned out a bit different from its predecessors: "The last album was a bit more relaxed and had a bit more soulfulness to it than our previous albums."

Supergrass does indeed have a looser, warmer sound, recalling a lot of '70s music, but not in an overtly cornball way. The first single, "Pumping on Your Stereo," is a catchy riff-rocker that recalls early-'70s Rolling Stones. On the band's Web site (www.childrenofthemonkeybasket.com), it's described as having been "written to annoy the hell out of everyone." "[That comment is] just Mick being bored, but it probably turned out more like that," Goffey says. "It's just a bit of a laugh, really, written very quickly at rehearsal. It was almost like this piss-take of short rock 'n' roll music: It's really simple, and it's got that sort of annoying melody in the background.

"Some songs, you hear 'em for a year and then you remember that you like the song, really, even though it's annoying. We have a tendency to write quite a few annoying tunes."

One of the more up-tempo tunes on the album is "Jesus Came From Outer Space." Though the song's snappy pop melody sounds great to fans of the "old" Supergrass, Goffey says it could have used more work: "It's a bit of a mess, that song. It could've been quite good, but we ran out of time on it.

"It started out like this anti-religious song and dealt with those sorts of subjects, that no one can prove any theory about religion. But it didn't really turn out like that in the end. It's got a bunch of one-liners in the lyrics."

Goffey isn't bothered by the band's lack of widespread commercial success in the U.S. "We sort of have, like, a fan base where we can play gigs of 1,000 people where three-quarters of them know who we are and we can just have a laugh. That's enough for us." And unlike many great British bands of the past, Supergrass doesn't seem fixated on making it in the States. "I think in a way it isn't really the bands" who obsess over America, Goffey continues. "I think a lot of the time it's the English press and maybe record companies."

In any case, the current tour, which sees Supergrass opening for Pearl Jam, will put them in front of their biggest U.S. audiences to date. "It's gonna be a bit weird to get our heads around it," Goffey says. "We'll probably just play loads of crap songs and have a laugh."

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