Life is confusing, and the UK’s super-darlings known as Supergrass are the first to admit it. In fact, their latest album, Diamond Hoo Ha, applauds that fact. As drummer Danny Goffey describes the loose concept behind the release, “You’re never quite in control of what you’re doing. We’ve all got calamities and stuff but you’ve got to get through life and still be cool, without bowing down to the man.”

This is one band that’s never felt the need to cave into commercialism and the new songs prove it, recorded quickly and filled with the fun, glamour and excitement that first made Supergrass chart-climbers when they burst forth with their “Alright” single almost 15 years ago. As the story goes, the boys left school at 13 and jumped into the back of a van to do gigs. In some ways, they’ve never looked back. Supergrass has been steadily building into the quirky, unrelenting and spontaneous phenomenon they’ve become ever since. They’re now considered the inspirational elder statesmen of British rock in their native UK. Yet rather than becoming passé at age thirty, the band has managed to maintain their boyish exuberance, and at the same time, the general consensus is that they’ve arrived at their peak.

Six albums into their career, Supergrass may have left their cartoonish video personas behind, but they’re still all for a good time, even if it entails a little bit of performing on a London street for a good cause. Just this past March, singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes and Goffey busked on a busy corner in Covent Garden and gave their generous pile of tips to the UK’s Crisis Charity. They also made some mysterious appearances in London pubs in recent months, playing new songs at low key shows while tricked out as Duke Diamond and Randy Hoo Ha, their jump-suited, Berliner alter egos, also known as the Diamond Hoo Ha Men.

The songs on Diamond may have been written in the UK, but the band’s decision to hole up to record in the infamous Hansa Studios in Berlin (best known as the studio where Bowie and Iggy Pop recorded infamous works in the 70′s, and large chunks of U2′s Achtung Baby were done there as well) definitely inspired the feel of the album. Goffey explains, “We had an idea, when we started writing, to make a more upbeat album with big riffs, and dance tunes, we had that idea of the Ian Dury, Talking Heads stuff we were kind of getting into, that way of writing.” The band admits their “little gang” made the most of Berlin’s hedonistic nightlife, “…went to some crazy bars, and had a ball. Hence, the title. The whole experience was magical––a diamond hoo haa!”

The fact that all members of Supergrass contribute to the song-writing process may be one reason they’ve managed to have such staying power and sound fresh with each new album. “We all write, so it’s quite helpful to keep the band going that way. This album was quite easy to make. Everything came together quite well. It was probably the least stressful album to make, which means that we’re all probably getting quite old,” Goffey laughs.

—Madeline Virbasius-Walsh, photo by Keira Vallejo

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