Supergrass – Mick Quinn on the Deluxe Reissue of 1997’s “In It for the Money” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Supergrass – Mick Quinn on the Deluxe Reissue of 1997’s “In It for the Money”

It’s That Chemistry

Oct 26, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There were many disappointments when tours were cancelled starting in spring of 2020. Not the least of these were Supergrass gigs marking the reunion of the power trio-turned-quartet, 10 years after their split. The tour was in conjunction with the release of a career spanning best of collection: Supergrass: The Strange Ones 1994 – 2008.

The excitement at the thought of seeing Supergrass, one of most memorable live bands—not just of their time, but any time—has carried through the last 18 months, coinciding with the reissue of arguably their best album, the million-selling In It for the Money. Originally released in 1997, it was the band’s sophomore album and the follow-up to 1995’s hit debut, I Should Coco.

Supergrass’ bass player, Mick Quinn, takes the helm on reissues and box sets on behalf of his bandmates—guitarist/vocalist Gaz Coombes, drummer Danny Coffey, and keyboard player Robert (Bobsie) Coombes. Quinn put himself to task for this one. The In It for the Money reissue features a brand-new remaster of the original album, 21 tracks of B-sides, rarities, and outtakes from recording sessions, and 20 live performances compiled primarily from a gig at Nottingham Rock City in 1998. Additionally, there are performances from the Opera House in Toronto in 1995, the Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands in 1996, and Paradiso in Amsterdam in 1997.

The reissue is available on vinyl, including in a fetching shade of turquoise, and triple CD, or various combinations of the two. Also part of the box set are images of Supergrass from famed rock photographers Kevin Westenberg and Gie Knaeps, a studio track guide courtesy of the band, and professionally written and thoughtful sleeve notes from longstanding music journalist Charles Shaar Murray.

There is just enough material to rev up your Supergrass engine, but not an overload that makes you want to take a break from these stellar songs or this fan-forward collector’s package. That’s exactly how Quinn planned it, as he tells Under the Radar in an early morning Zoom from the UK, where Supergrass have been making the round on the summer festival circuit.

Lily Moayeri (Under the Radar): What is the occasion for doing a reissue of In It for the Money?

Mick Quinn: It felt right to do it now. It’s been 10 years [since Supergrass broke up] and everyone has forgotten all the bad bits. It’s like going on a camping holiday. You don’t remember waking up feeling awful in a tent. All you remember is the beautiful sunsets. I’m not sure if we’ve even come to terms with why ended or how it stopped before. We just drifted back into it. We’re not getting any younger and if we don’t do it at some point, it’s just never going to happen.

Both the visual and the aural portions of the reissue are a fan’s dream.

I got hold of Radiohead’s DAT machine—it’s hen’s teeth finding a DAT machine—and I had 40 hours’ worth of what we call “session DATs,” where you leave the DAT machine recording in the background as you’re writing the songs and getting it together. I can hear the record unfolding over a period of three months. I was listening to us chatting about it and arguing and bickering. I could have put all that in, but it’s probably good to listen to once and then you’d never listened to that again. A lot of reissues bore the pants off people.

What is more interesting is seeing the songs before they’re edited down. Things like “In It for the Money” going into a different section that don’t exist on the record. Because people have been listening to these songs and playing them for years, I thought it would light them up to hear something they were so familiar with, just slightly longer and more expansive.

A lot of the live material is from Nottingham Rock City. Was that a show you were purposely recording?

We were at BBC Radio Two. They put it out live and I had a cassette of that. When I first dredged it up, I wanted to try and get us performing every track on the album live in some way or another so you can recreate the record live. I couldn’t get rights for all of it and some of that fell through. But then I found that Nottingham Rock City show. It was one of the last gigs we did on that tour for that album. We’d broken all the songs in live, and it just hung together. You hear the Leslie for the Hammond organ explode. Every time I do a reissue and I get a live gig, something really bad happens technically in the gig. I love that because it means we all relax on stage, and we come back with, “We’ve really got to put on a show now because we fucked up.” Those are the best live gigs, when things go wrong, and everyone’s taken out of their comfort zone. It puts everything on edge.

What are the ideas behind the physical elements of the reissue?

The idea is to look at the artwork as it is and try and find extras from the photo sessions we did for the inside. Like the audio, you try to expand what’s there, not bring in too many new elements. I did the I Should Coco reissue and the criticism was there weren’t sleeve notes. I’d done 200 words or something myself. This time I’ve got fantastic and very complimentary sleeve notes from Charles Shaar Murray.

Who did the remastering?

I got Louis Hopkin, who is based in Devon. He’s been there for years but very recent for me. I got in touch with John Cornfield and asked who he would you recommend. I told Louis I wanted to do a much more open remaster than the original. The original, which was done by one of the masters of their craft at Abbey Road, sounds fantastic, but it’s very ’90s, very dense and very compressed. That is great in some ways, but if you’re going to reissue, then try and keep it open, and try and make it sound more like the final tapes, which Louis did, which is I was really excited about. The first time I heard it, I was slightly disappointed because it’s very quiet, and you have to actually turn it up to get it to feel like the original record. Once you do you can you can feel all the extra detail in it, the air moving around it.

In It for the Money was released pretty quickly after I Should Coco, which was such a monster record, and it sounded dramatically different. What was your thought process behind the major change?

It’s the difference between looking and listening. We were very young at the time of I Should Coco. We came across like a bubble gum pop band for a lot of the videos, especially “Alright.” That’s not where we were going as a band. We’re becoming a rock band live. A lot of people were looking for I Should Coco Part II in terms of visually, but they weren’t listening to where we were heading with songs like “Going Out.”

You had Sam Williams in the producer’s seat for I Should Coco and took over the production for In It for the Money yourself, for the most part. That early in your career, did you have enough experience to self-produce?

We put in a lot of production ideas for I Should Coco. Sam gave us a lot more discipline in the studio to finish songs because we’re fantastic at messing around. He was also teaching us a lot of old school studio techniques like overdubbing and stacking guitars, but we were throwing abstract stuff in all along.

When we went for in for In It for the Money, we could see that Sam was going to get a lot of pressure from outside to make I Should Coco Part II, and it would have been really difficult for him to have a free hand. That’s why we said, “We’ll produce the second record.” It meant we could be a lot stronger about how it was produced and that we could actually move on to something else. It was a ballsy move at that age. We could have messed up.

Looking back, how do you see yourselves at that time?

When we were making the record it was very intense, but fantastic. I remember being in a bubble. But as soon as we went out on tour, that was a lot more difficult to handle. We were starting to become big and that was doing our heads in. I remember the road crew used to take the mickey out of us and knock us down a few pegs and keep us grounded, otherwise we’d be ordering champagne and bossing people around. It was a difficult time to deal with all the attention. It was a big pressure.

It felt like other people were trying to impose personalities on you that you didn’t actually have.

Musically, we worked instantly, very cohesive. But our personalities took a lot of work. We are quite different. I’m very introverted. I hate doing interviews, and generally having more than two people in a room. Danny has got the most outrageous personality. He’s probably closer to the I Should Coco image than anybody else. Even today he’s thinking we should be doing stuff like on I Should Coco, more fun and up. His listening habits are completely the opposite of that. He’s into very downtempo stuff: Lou Reed or Nico. But as soon as you try and write like that he’s like, “No, no, it’s got to be up.” He’s the biggest extrovert you’ll ever meet and is fantastic company to be around—but maybe not for 10 years on a tour bus. After a while it starts to grate. Gaz is a very self-contained person. He doesn’t give out much. He’s quite mysterious. All three of us together made sort of a rounded individual. It was getting very strained towards the end and it exploded, but not in a bad way. When we were making Release the Drones [an unreleased Supergrass album], we started falling apart and losing interest. It had to stop. Gaz sent an email saying, “I’m really not enjoying this,” and that was it.

It seems easy for you to be back together now.

It’s never difficult with the music. As soon as we shut up and start plugging in the instruments and play, that chemistry is always there. You start relaxing and trusting each other through the music. That translates into our interpersonal relationships. You start relying on each other again.

I remember the first day I ever played with Gaz in the room and we were just catching each other in the moment and it was just making us all play better. We didn’t have to work at that. A lot of people have said, “You must rehearse for hours to play like that,” and it’s just not true. That’s how naturally we fall with each other and it works instantly. That’s why it took so long to bring in Bobsie into the band because it always felt like we’re doing a three-piece. But when you’re in the studio, you want to put some bells on it, add a little icing sugar to that stuff. That’s why it crept into being a four-piece but it was always this three-piece powerhouse in the beginning. It was very natural chemistry.

Do you have U.S. tour dates yet?

We had dates lined up before the pandemic hit. People haven’t had their money back so we’ve still got to honor those gigs. Last time I heard—although it’s not written down yet—we’re looking at coming over probably May 2022. I have been pushing to do a little bus tour from coast-to-coast, but not everyone’s into that idea. I’ve been doing Swervedriver for the last five years and I’ve been coast-to-coast America about eight times in that time so I’m satiated in that way, but I’d love to do it with Supergrass. We still light each other up when we play. It’s that chemistry. I remember playing completely empty gigs in Denver to two people and a dog. We used to probably go for those more, because there’s no pressure, and it was just good fun.

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