Supergrass: we're splitting (but we're alright about it)

After 17 years it's over – but Britpop founders say they still love each other
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The Independent Culture

With their zany videos and cheeky-chappy lyrics, Supergrass encapsulated the optimistically laddish and retro-tinged zeitgeist of the Britpop era. But despite being one of the mid-90s' most commercially successful home-grown talents and enjoying considerable critical acclaim in their own right, they were forced by a cruel quirk of pop history to live in the shadow of two giants in what is now considered a gilded musical age: Blur and Oasis.

Having survived and prospered for more than a decade past the height of their fame, it was announced yesterday that the Oxford group, which started life as a three-piece, is splitting after 17 years together, citing "musical differences". They will play four more shows together this summer before going their separate ways, the band said in a statement.

Supergrass had a string of hit singles, the highest of which peaked at number two, including the teen-anthem "Alright", with its instantly recognisable chattering piano riff, as well as the more dreamy and mature "Moving", about the tedium of touring which became their last top 10 hit in 1999.

Their first studio album I Should Coco, released in the spring of 1995 at the height of the popularity of Britpop, went to number one and resurrected the cockney phrase for a generation of young music fans to copy.

Yet while they recorded six albums together and could captivate huge festival audiences, Supergrass struggled to shake off suggestions that they were everybody's second favourite band. Still they continued to record throughout the last decade despite enduring a series of setbacks including an incident in 2007 when bass player Mick Quinn suffered spinal injuries during a fall while sleepwalking out of the first floor of a French villa.

In a statement, the group said: "Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years. We still love each other but, cliché notwithstanding, musical differences have led to us moving on and of course we all wish each other well in the future."

They will round off their career with four farewell shows in June, starting at Glasgow Barrowlands on 8 June, then Manchester's Academy, the Brixton Academy in London and a final show in Paris on 11 June. The group's Danny Goffey and Gaz Coombes have already launched their own spin-off act, The Hotrats.

Supergrass started life as teenage band The Jennifers, but in their later incarnation went on to perform at the Jericho Tavern in Oxford, a venue that was also to be famous as the proving ground of another group of local lads, Radiohead, who played their debut gig there. Supergrass's first single, "Caught by the Fuzz", was championed by John Peel. But it was I Should Coco that cemented their place in the vibrant music scene of the period and went on to sell nearly one million copies worldwide. It was nominated for that year's hotly contested Mercury Prize while "Alright" won an Ivor Novello songwriting award.

The same year they won newcomer gongs from Q and NME magazines.

They later celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a "Best Of" collection called Supergrass Is 10 while their sixth studio album Diamond Hoo Ha charted in 2008, the same year that their contract with record company EMI concluded.

Supergrass: A history

* The origins of Supergrass lie in the band The Jennifers, which formed in 1990, featuring Gaz Coombes, 16, on vocals and Danny Goffey, 18, on drums.

* Supergrass formed in 1993, releasing their debut album I Should Coco a year later, which entered the UK charts at number one. It sold 500,000 copies in the UK, and 990,000 worldwide.

* The band drew acclaim with their debut single "Caught By The Fuzz" in 1994, and went on to reach number two in the singles chart twice. Their most famous song was the teenage anthem "Alright".

* The quartet's sixth studio album, Diamond Hoo Har, made it to number 19 in the UK in 2008. It was recorded by Coombes and Goffey after Mick Quinn injured his back in a sleep-walking accident.