Supergrass legend Gaz Coombes will join Field Day headliners Ride and Patti Smith at the Victoria Park festival this year, performing material from his new solo album Matador as well as some of his greatest hits.
You’ve played at tons of festivals. Which moments stand out?
The first time we played Glastonbury with Supergrass in 1995, as 17 year-olds. To blast through a set in front of 100,000 people in a field was absolutely crazy. We did the whole album in about 25 minutes, we went through it so fast because of the adrenaline. It was an out of body experience. It defined us as a band.
Had you even been to a festivals before that?
One. I’d been to Reading the year before with our drummer, Danny Goffey. We’d got hold of some hallucinogens, and we floated round the site. It felt like city to have adventures in. Those memories are locked away in a parallel universe, though. When you’re actually playing, you have to try and retain some professionalism…
You’ve barely stopped doing festivals in the 20-year since.
We’ve done loads. I remember another Glastonbury vividly, we played Sun Hits The Sky just as the clouds actually cleared, it was just one of those beautiful moments. I think the whole field felt it. And at Roskilde there was a real sea of flags and banners – that’s the most incredible thing I’ve from a stage.
You’re playing at Field Day and BST this year. Do London-based festivals mean you can make it home to bed?
I live in Oxford, so I’ll stick about in London with family and friends. Playing the parks is special, especially being on the same bill as The Who at BST. The last time we played at a London festival I ended up dancing on stage with Iggy Pop. He beckoned people on stage, wearing his see-through plastic trousers. It was quite a sight.
Who’d play at your dream festival?
The White Stripes. I loved the way Jack and Meg played together. After that, Neil Young. He’s still experimenting, regardless of his age. I saw him a few years ago, and he apologised to the crowd for a jam that went wrong. He still takes risks, and that’s a good attitude. Jimi Hendrix could headline with one of those definitive festival performances.
What are your top tips for surviving a weekend in a field?
You’ve just got to embrace it, there can be no preparation. Don’t take lots of boots or anything, you’re just going to lose them. Go with an open mind. I’m not quite mentally built for camping these days, though. I’m a man of luxury! I head to the nearest hotel. Camping does my head in. My kids are trying to persuade me to do it, but I remember walking past a sequence of parents with crying kids at festivals and thinking: “thank God that’s not me”.
What would be the best festival superpower?
Having wings would be pretty handy. I’d fly high above the site and enjoy the view, cruise down and watch a show, then take off again. I wouldn’t miss anything.
Gaz Coombes’ new album Matador is out now on Hot Fruit
Field Day is on 6th and 7th June in Victoria Park, London. Watch live at 6.30pm on Sunday 8 June on London Live (Freeview 8, Sky 117, Virgin 159)
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