‘If I spend a day making music I know I will feel better because something will come out of it that’s interesting’. Supergrass hero Danny Goffey takes us through the emotions…
Supergrass hero Danny Goffey is about to release his second solo album Schtick! A sonic collage of modern hysteria that journeys through addictive tendencies, gang violence and neuroticism. Written from the perspective of a man who’s seen it all, Danny is joined by fellow British rock alumni; Suede’s Brett Anderson, Rialto’s Louis Eliot and Insecure Men’s Marley Mackey, who all make cameos on an album that darts between dark cynicism, youthful vitality and Goffey’s trademark humour. To celebrate Schtick! and it’s frenetic energy Danny is holding a mini-festival at his home in Somerset. We caught up with him to talk about the effects of mindless violence, finding your voice and his perfect day, for Going Through The Emotions…
Hey Danny, what are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished a second album called Schtick!, under my own name. So I’ve been busy with that. I’ve also been in the studio with a producer called Simon Byrt which has been a really good laugh. The less people you have in the studio working on something the more relaxed it is – I don’t know why that is, but you can really get into it with just two people – your minds can connect so you’re kind of both on the same plain and it seems to develop easier. He’s a good musician and I play different instruments so it all comes together well.
Your new single Buzzkiller and the video discusses violence and an unprovoked physical attack. What triggered that as an inspiration for you?
The reason I chose that topic was my brother was pretty badly beaten up when I was around 15. He was just walking down the wrong street in East Oxford which sounds really posh but you know every big town has its dodgy areas. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and took a bad beating by a group of guys and was hospitalised. The song was a bit of a memory of that. The awfulness of something like that can change your life completely. You know, I understand lots of violence goes on between gangs, but it’s that unprovoked slightly unnecessary violence that shouldn’t go on. There was a case as well up north where a girl and her boyfriend got attacked just for looking different – for being a goth – and she died and it’s just a total tragedy. They don’t even really know what they’re doing these guys. Her name was Sophie Lancaster – I saw a programme on her and it just really got to me that something like that could happen to someone for no reason. So it’s quite a hectic topic but I tried to lighten it up with the lyrics ‘berks in their fitted white shirts’ – quite a lot of stuff I do is on dark topics but I try to lighten them up a bit.
What has been your biggest life challenge and what did you do to overcome it?
It might have been after the band Supergrass split up. Since the age of 19 I had managers, a record company and a press person – all of these sorts of people that I didn’t appreciate fully I guess at the time; there were a lot of people looking after my best interests and then when the band split up it all just sort of dropped off completely. I didn’t have great business skills – I am a creative person so I used to shy away from all that kind of stuff and let people deal with that. So I got into some real trouble with my tax and all sorts of bits and bobs. It took me a few years to get my head around how all of that was worked out. That was quite stressful because I had a family and it was very close to the whole thing falling apart really and I sort of clawed my way back into it. But yeah it was just not really knowing the rules and what to do really. I just remember feeling extremely trapped and to the point were I was walking around in circles counting my steps, you know just quite weird behaviour – trying to find a way out of the way it was and maybe thinking there wasn’t a way out you know? But that was one of the challenges.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My family, my kids. The will to write music. That hasn’t stopped yet so I’m grateful for that. My wife Pearl has been wicked over the years we’ve had quite a good laugh just generally through all of the highs and strange times. We live in quite a small area so we are all pretty tight really so we all just kind of look after each other.
How important has music been to your mental health?
It’s kind of my life I guess because it’s all I’ve really done. If I feel down I might do nothing for a day and feel a bit helpless or worthless and stuff. But then I’ve got a little creative room that doubles up as Pearl’s dressmaking room and I’ve got a little computer in the corner with a piano so I’ve got this little demo area. But if I spend a day making music I know I will feel better because something will come out of it that’s interesting and it makes you feel a bit more worthy really as you’ve created something. Which, I dunno – it’s quite spiritual isn’t it – if you’re creating something it’s a positive thing. So music really has been very instrumental in keeping my spirits up definitely.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Well, I’ve just moved to this house in Somerset so I’ve been trying to do it up a bit. I’ve been trying to get into doing the gardening but I’m really really bad! I was trying to do a bit of that this morning. But I would say a few hours of writing some music in the morning. I always love to write some music from sort of 10 am onwards for a few hours before lunch and then later cook an interesting meal for my family. At the moment I’ve got six of us all living here and they sort of come and go – I think our house is too easy to come back to – it’s like a magnet that brings all of the kids back cos they know they’re going to get a nice dinner and stuff like that. I’ve got dogs as well so I like taking them for a walk. But a perfect day might easily be recording a song in the studio really – that would be a pretty good day cos it’s so fulfilling.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…
Self-confidence and finding your voice.
Who was your best friend at school? What was the funniest thing they did?
I guess when I was younger my best friend would have been Matt Birley and he was really easy to make laugh. He would just laugh at everything which was just really good fun – you could just sort of say ‘look there’s a tree’ and he’d crack up so yeah we’d always have a right old laugh anyway. I used to have this mini motorbike that we’d got from somewhere and we used to live near these woods. It was totally crazy but we all used to go up as kids into the woods and take turns riding this mini motorbike around – we were probably about 9 or 10 years old. So we’d just go off for the day. Matt got on it and he was going down this steep slope and you had to turn before the river at the bottom but he froze and kept going and did this big jump and landed right in the middle of the river and we all laughed and said it was like Princess Anne doing the water jump.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
When family, and friends or people I know are feeling depressed they tend to lose their voice so I’d really encourage talking and reading – even reading out loud. Because if you get into this hole and shut away the world I think things just get worse. So no matter how hard it is I think you’ve got to find something that you’re into that’s uplifting and read about it and to try and get your mind focussed on things like that. I’ve seen it where it’s been really hard for people to get their voices out, or their opinion and I think that doing that can really help to strengthen you and lift your spirits.
A lot of people we’ve interviewed say their idea of a perfect day is to be at a festival with friends – and you are holding your own festival – Goffstonbury. How is that going?
It’s a mini festival of a few hundred people. I just wanted to have a party basically – in my garden! A friend of mine Lily Cider bought the field around the house – they’re really nice and they’ve let me use a bit of the land which is good. It’s been great finding acts for it – I’ve found this act called Junior Bill that I really like from Bristol. He seems to be quite outspoken and political, and he likes Elvis Costello records which I really like and yeah we’re just kind of getting some friends to play. It’s funny how it just snowballs and you just kind of get into it. We’re not charging any of the vendors to sell the drinks etc so they can come in and make a bit of money from it and there’ll be a nice co-operative sort of vibe to it. I’m trying to get Strummerville to do something – that was created by Joe Strummer and his wife Lucinda. I’m trying to get them to do a little stage.
You’re someone that is well known in some part for the celebration of youth with the Supergrass song ‘Alright’ – and your new album includes a track entitled ‘I’m done (trying to be young)’. Has it been hard to negotiate transitions in life and keep that forward momentum creatively and in terms of how people identify with you?
Life has changed so much in those twenty three years since that song came out. I think nowawdays it’s more sort of who you are online and how you are seen online and all of that sort of thing. That just seems to be more relevant. I suppose in the 80s or 90s you could always choose your social path or your beliefs from musical fashion and stuff like that and you could kind of belong to a group or a subculture. I don’t know, it seems that a lot of young people are only being delivered a persona of culture that is rooted online and I guess you can feel really deserted if you don’t fit in with that. It seems like everyone has to look like the Kardashians or certain types of people, but I can’t feel those splintered subcultures. Sometimes the people that are a bit more creative or a bit weirder are where you can find your identity. The thing is to not take yourself too seriously – definitely.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
Roasted beetroots with a bit of cous cous. Everyone calls it cous cous with a lisp in our house – I don’t know why. Yeah, and sweet potatoes – sweet potatoes are really cheap and easy and you can slice them up into little wedges then you can get some creme fraiche, lemongrass and garlic and make a little dip for them…and if you’re feeling really fancy you can put some pomegranate seeds on them as well.
Weren’t you on Masterchef?
Yeah. I cooked loads of things – I got into the semi-finals in the end. I came fourth. I couldn’t really cook before but it was about a year or so after the band split up and I was just sitting around for a bit and at that time I wasn’t doing anything and I was into that thing of just saying ‘yes’ to stuff. You know I usually would have said: ‘there is no hope in hell I would do something like that’. But I just thought it would be quite good and I wasn’t doing anything for a couple of months and I got really really into it. I thought I was going to be really dismissive and would be making all of the food really badly, but I just got kind of hooked and wanted to do better and better. So at the point that when I got chucked out I had three glasses of wine and started getting really angry and burst into tears with the presenters. It gave me something to do and it wasn’t something completely naff where you don’t learn anything – it was quite interesting so I’ve kept it up. Actually I do find that cooking is something that’s really therapeutic – you know, I guess a lot of people do.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I try and swim as much as I can. Swimming is really good because you can swim and think at the same time because it’s quiet you know…well sometimes it’s quite noisy, but you can kind of get into a bit of a zone. It’s really good for thinking about lyrics as well. If you get a topic of a song you want to write about and you just do 20 minutes of swimming things just come into your head. I suppose it’s a bit like a meditation or something.
What song lift your spirits?
Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
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