As recently reported, Supergrass offshoot the Hot Rats have been making stateside rounds, currently promoting their debut record ‘Turn Ons.’ The title isn’t necessarily referencing the bedroom, either. The duo, comprised of Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey, pays homage to their favorite artists of yesteryear, such as David Bowie, the Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello.
Coombes said that the idea for the Hot Rats came after Supergrass bassist Mick Quinn broke his back. He and Goffey started messing around as a duo, but they were messing around in front of the right person. “Nigel [Godrich] saw us play as a two-piece and he said ‘Come down to the studio and record some songs. We’ll have a bit of fun,'” Coombes says. “We went in and started recording music. The first song we did was ‘Can’t Stand It’ by Lou Reed, so we started to get on this covers thing.”
From there, they settled on the name the Hot Rats, but not because they were doing covers and thought the Frank Zappa record sounded cool, as has been reported. “It’s not really taken from that. I’ve had this ‘hot rat’ thing for years. It’s hard to explain, but it’s been a pseudonym or something,” Coombes says. “I’ve always used the term. It goes back a long, long way. I always liked the way it sounded. It wasn’t so much a real Zappa nod or anything.”
Coombes says that ‘Turn Ons’ was carefully thought out, meaning that he scoured the Internet to see who out there had done an album like what they were brewing. “There are bands that will do one artist, like a [Serge] Gainsbourg covers album,” he says. “In general, I don’t know if they’re that fashionable. I think the mainstream thing, the ‘X-Factor’ thing is to do covers anyway, but I see those as soulless rehashing of a song that’s four or five years old, which is entirely different thing. ”
“I thought it shrouded any sense of self-importance,” he continues. “We were definitely having a creative experience, a lot more than bashing out a covers record because we’re bored. It was actually quite the opposite.”
For any doubt on that creative experience, check out ‘Turn Ons,’ which is out now on Fat Possum Records.