Singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes and his older school friend, drummer Danny Goffey had been playing together in The Jennifers since their early teens, releasing one single (Just Got Back Today) on Suede‘s label Nude Records and developing a following in their hometown of Oxford.
But it was when they split that band and joined up with bassist Mick Quinn in 1993 to form Theodore Supergrass – quickly shortened to Supergrass (British slang for police informer) – that they really found their stride.
Their debut single Caught By The Fuzz sold out a pressing of 250 copies on a local label in summer 1994 and they were swiftly signed by major label Parlophone. who reissued the single, then put out their UK #1 album I Should Coco, released on 15 May 1995.
Recorded over a week-long session in a residential countryside studio – where the boys (still in their late teens) could play pool, row boats or write masterful takes on delinquent youth – I Should Coco beamed fun and fizz on each and every track.
Influenced by the more melodic end of punk (The Jam, Buzzcocks etc) and by upbeat 60s chart fare like The Monkees, the music of Supergrass was perfectly suited to a renewed interest in guitar pop in the Britpop climate.
They were seen by many as a less forbidding proposition than contemporaries like Blur and Oasis, partly because of their cheery demeanour and their seeming lack of in-band bust-ups, and partly because of refreshingly upbeat lyrics about music, marijuana and hanging out with your mates . . . when a set of gleaming pearly whites were the only credentials required to spend your days smoking, drinking and pissing about with your pals.
Which is why Supergrass’ ode to teenage kicks – Alright (1995) – an infectious, buzzy, nursery rhyme tribute to keeping one’s teeth “nice and clean”, being promiscuous and writing off an old banger by crashing it into a wall – still stands up today as a celebration of having fuck all to do, but making it feel like the most important stuff in the world.
As many bands do, Supergrass went on to develop a darker and more introspective side. Their musical talents, often including those of Coombes’ brother Rob on keyboards, were undeniable, particularly in a live setting, and the band became a festival favourite, enjoying steady success with all their albums reaching the UK Top 10.