The band declined both and instead concentrated on its 1997 follow-up, In It for the Money, which added lush instrumentation and increasingly Beatles-like melodies to the mix. Still, music writers and fans latched onto the group's impish video for the soulful "Late in the Day," in which Coombes, bassist Mick Quinn, and drummer Danny Goffey bounced in time with the beat on pogo sticks and continued to refer to Supergrass as bratty, brash, and/or snotty clown princes. While these seemingly negative terms were almost always paired with praise (the brats were "adorable," their immaturity was "appealing"), the words projected an image that no longer fit the music.
The band's latest, self-titled album strays even farther from the debut's straightforward guitar pop, delving into soul, funk, and R&B between high-energy rockers and sprawling progressive experimentation. But group members opted to throw fans off their trail by releasing the album's perkiest cut, "Pumping on Your Stereo," as the band's single and pairing it with a video that used Jim Henson's Creature Shop to create 12-foot puppet replicas of the band members, who played various singing instruments. Oh, giggled the press, there go those cheeky chaps again.
Yet for all they've done to further this image, Quinn says, they don't necessarily embrace it. "People think we sit around with hats with propellers on them, and that can get really annoying," he says, punctuating the sentence with an exasperated laugh. "I think we've got a healthy disrespect for what we do. Maybe if we paid more attention and spent more time culturing a mature, very cool image, then we wouldn't have to deal with all that stuff. We try and take our music quite seriously, but the rest of it we don't. I suppose people get confused by that."
Some people were doubtlessly confused by Supergrass' video for "Mary," its latest single. Filled with horrific and genuinely spooky imagery, it's as if the propellers twirled free from those beanies and started impaling passersby with razor-sharp blades, splattering the screen with blood. British MTV responded by banning the video outright. As for domestic MTV, Supergrass' only forums for airplay -- shows such as Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes -- have disappeared from the schedule, and "Mary" isn't likely to garner enough teen votes to make it onto TRL. The only real option for Supergrass fans is to download the clip from the band's Web site, www.childrenofthemonkeybasket.com.
"This is the first video that we the band have actually scripted, which is quite worrying, because it got banned and it was pretty sick and stuff," Quinn says. "For us, we're always sort of playing with humor, and it just seemed funny to us. It's a very dark humor. It's based on horror movies that we used to watch in the mid- to late-'70s and early '80s -- very bleak and bleached-out. It really fits the song, which is quite a dark, sleazy little basement number."