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Gareth Michael "Gaz" Coombes (born 8 March 1976 in Oxford) is an English musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the English alternative rock band, Supergrass. He first entered the music scene aged sixteen as the lead singer of the band The Jennifers which featured Supergrass band mate Danny Goffey. Coombes was noticeable for his large sideburns during the 1990s.
1991-1993: The Jennifers:
Coombes first entered the music world at age sixteen as the lead singer of the band The Jennifers. The band undertook a nationwide tour before Coombes was fifteen. When they signed for their first recording contract with Nude Records, Coombes, who was under 18 at the time and so had to have his mother sign the contract for him.
"There were a couple of ridiculous, punky, joke songs - "Harvey The Accountant" and "The Girl With The Removable Face". That one went: "The girl with the removable face/She didn't have much of a life/All the boys used to pull it off/And use it as a frisbee." Most of them were in that vein. Actually, we haven't changed much." says Coombes about some Jennifers songs.
The Jennifers released "Just Got Back Today" on Nude Records in 1992 before they disbanded.
After the mild success experienced by The Jennifers, but still living with his parents, Coombes got a job at the local Harvester. He would take old Jennifers demos and play them over the restaurant's PA system before it opened, and this eventually led to him meeting Mick Quinn, a co-worker who played bass guitar and shared his musical tastes. With Danny Goffey they began to practice at Quinn's house, and Supergrass was formed shortly thereafter.
In 1993 after The Jennifers disbanded, Coombes, Goffey and Quinn formed Supergrass. In 2002 Coombes' brother keyboardist Rob Coombes officially joined the band. Before that he was studying for an Astrophysics degree at Cardiff University. The band released six studio albums in their 17 years together, each of them entering the UK top 20: I Should Coco (1995), In It for the Money (1997), Supergrass (1999), Life on Other Planets (2002), Road to Rouen (2005) and Diamond Hoo Ha (2008). They also released a singles compilation Supergrass is 10 (2004), commemorating the first decade of the band's life.
During the height of Supergrass' fame around 1995, Coombes received offers from "Italian Vogue" and most notably, "Calvin Klein", to model for them in their ad campaigns and magazine publications, as well as an offer from Steven Spielberg to make a Monkees-style TV show of the band. Coombes however, along with the rest of the band, declined these offers, saying; "Yes, we probably would have been face down in a pool if we'd said yes to all that. I mean, our heads would have returned to our shoulders at some point, but... it felt like cheating. Too easy. Short cut. Y'know? If you have to do all that to be the biggest band in the world then... then what does that say about your music? And all that... the publicity offers would have just got in the way of the music. It would have taken so long to get to grips with. We'd have lost years."
In 1999, Coombes made an appearance on the "Da Ali G Show" and played the Supergrass song "Sun Hits the Sky", whilst having to deal with Ali G 'remixing' it as he performed. "I tried to take the mickey out of his goatee, and he came back with: "So, you are looking like a monkey..." But if you go on his show, you know what you're letting yourself in for."
Coombes appeared on The Annex on 2fm with Jenny Huston alongside Goffey before Supergrass took the stage at Malahide Castle in Dublin, Ireland to support Arctic Monkeys on 16 June 2007.
On 12 April 2010 Coombes and the rest of Supergrass announced that the band was to split after seventeen years. Musical differences were cited as the reason. They played four farewell concerts before the split. Their seventh album Release the Drones remains unfinished and unreleased.
Coombes announced on 28 October in The Hotrats and Supergrass Facebook page that he is currently working on his first solo album, recorded at his studio in Oxford with producer Sam Williams, and claiming that the record is on its final stages, planned to release it in 2011. He plays most of the instruments on the record.
Coombes starred in an advert for the Toyota Yaris where he plays himself and encounters a fan who wants a picture with him. The Supergrass single "Pumping on Your Stereo" also appears in the advert.
Coombes appeared on and produced the single "Wonderful" by Little Fish, which was released in October 2011. In December 2011, Coombes performed his first solo shows at The Rotunda in Oxford and released his debut solo single "Hot Fruit" on 14 March 2012. His debut album, Here Come the Bombs was released shortly after and was well received by critics and fans alike.
In May 2014, Coombes recorded a cover version of The Kinks' song "This Time Tomorrow" for a television advertisement for the UK department store, John Lewis. The song was subsequently released as a digital single on the Caroline International label.
Coombes is the son of Eileen and John Coombes. His father was a food scientist, who enjoyed playing Jazz piano, and his mother an English teacher. Although he was born in England, he lived with his family in San Francisco, California, from around the age of five up until the age of nine, at which point in 1985 they returned to his birthplace in Oxford.
Coombes played Classical piano at this age, but gradually moved on to an interest in playing guitar. He began to attend Wheatley Comprehensive in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, but found himself being picked on for being 'girly'. His elder brother Rob was friends with Nic Goffey at the time, and one day on the school's playing fields a thirteen-year-old Gaz Coombes met and befriended Nic's younger brother, fifteen-year-old Danny Goffey. Danny Goffey was two years older than Coombes and helped to "protect him" from being teased. Goffey recounts what happened; "I mean, you couldn't fucking miss him. He was gorgeous. He grew sideburns and they other pupils gave him loads of shit, but I was really into him. I think I fancied him a bit, y'know? He's really beautiful. He wasn't very mature at that age. He was like a kid. I just went up to him and asked him to form a band. I could. I was a drummer. The tallest drummer in the school."
Coombes originally lived in a Regency townhouse in Brighton, East Sussex, which he first purchased in 1999, with his partner Jools Poore and their daughter, Raya May (born 2003). Due to the death of his mother, Eileen, in 2005, he felt compelled to move back into her house in Oxford during 2006, where he had grown up. Coombes and his partner now have a second daughter, named Tiger (b. 2008). Gaz Coombes and his brothers Rob Coombes, Charly Coombes and Eddie Coombes also jointly own a converted barn in Northern France, which is where the Supergrass album Road to Rouen was recorded.
He has three other siblings who are all involved in music: the eldest is the keyboardist and fellow Supergrass member Rob, former 22-20s keyboardist Charly and Paris-based Ed (who also plays piano).
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