Liz Nicholls chats to musician and dad Gaz Coombes, 42, whose acclaimed new album World’s Strongest Man is out now and appears at Truck festival in Steventon in July
Q. Hello Gaz, I love your new album! Are you most proud of this one?
“Thanks! It’s difficult to compare albums, y’know, like children! This album is still new and fresh, but I feel really good about it. The last three or four years have been the most creative of my life; it’s been a lot of fun.”
Q. Do you get recognised a lot when out and about?
“In Oxford, I’m just not a big deal, wandering along Cowley Road! I moved back just after my mum died to be closer to my dad and we haven’t looked back. I’m so at home here.”
Q. Where are your fave hang-outs?
“Jericho – I love The Harcourt Arms. We’re out in a village now, but when we were living on Cowley Road and my wife was in Banbury Road, Jericho was central and it’s cropped up in my lyrics! Last weekend Jools and I got a babysitter and went on a bit of a pub crawl with walks around Port Meadow – a magical place.”
Q. Oxford is a guitar music powerhouse, starting in your Supergrass days. Do you guys all hang out?
“Well yes! Loz and I hang out as he plays drums in my live band, when he’s not with Ride, and I see Mark Gardener [also of Ride]. When I was at Courtyard Studio recording this album, Colin Greenwood [of Radiohead] came by, for a cuppa and ended up playing bass on Oxygen Mask. He’s a fab guy, is Colin. The guys in my band are all local – I feel lucky that I’ve picked the cream of Oxford players. So yeah, it’s all subtley incestuous!”
Q. Anyone else you’d like to collaborate with?
“Ah, I heard something in my head a few months ago and contacted Nick Cave because I thought he’d be perfect. Unfortunately we couldn’t make any studio time work, but these things happen organically. I’d love to do some soundtracks…”
Q. Do you love vinyl?
“Yeah! It’s how I play music at home. I used to always pick some up on tour and don’t so much now, probably because of how accessible music is now on phones, it makes us lazy. But record releases are special – getting a box delivered, in classic Spinal Tap, style is so exciting.”
Q. Which new acts do you like?
“The band Shame are cool; honest rock ‘n’roll with depth. I also like Willie J Healey who’s a local boy, good and challenging. I’m always looking forward to what Goat are doing next – I’m a big fan of Goat.”
Q. What’s your fave gig venue?
“I’ve played some amazing venues over the years, like the Hollywood Bowl. But as a solo artist, I love the sound and space of The Forum in Kentish Town and Camden’s Roundhouse. I played a tiny basement club in Berlin last night and it was a great vibe.”
Q. What about festivals?
“Festival Number 6 is great; a real experience in a quirky, colourful town. And I always really enjoy Truck, nice and local!”
Truck festival is 20th-22nd July in Steventon, Oxfordshire. Visit www.truckfestival.com