"It's cool to have two different times in life, rather than having one time in life and dragging it out for as long as you can," Gaz Coombes says as we talk about his successful reinvention from leader of frothy britpoppers Supergrass to his new role as an acclaimed indie singer/songwriter.

"To sever that time in an extreme way and move on with a separate thing was really important to me," he continues. "It also keeps Supergrass frozen in time as a cool thing."

Coombes plays Auckland's Tuning Fork on Monday to support his fantastic new record The World's Strongest Man, his third solo album. Away from the band dynamic, Coombes' songwriting is more experimental and moody, the fuzzy guitar work of his songs draped in curious atmospheres and noises and propelled by loops and grooves he samples from his own drumming.

"The records have turned out better than I ever thought, so it's a case of taking that live," he says, when asked about the show's vibe. "Playing the pubs and doing old Supergrass songs is not anything I really wanted to do, to be honest. I've got too many ideas I want to get across. The response to the new songs has been so good that I haven't really thought about delving too much into the old stuff."

Advertisement

He cites the different approaches Beck has taken to his live shows over the years as an inspiration for how he put his show together. To that end he wanted to present the songs how he wrote them, without "all the production tricks and fairy dust".

"There's a song under that stuff, it doesn't always have to have all of the ingredients to get across the essence of it. Just play things in a stripped down way with a simple beat, or a drone or loop. It's really fun," he says. "It's like taking the writing process on the stage, only they're already fully formed songs. It's a cool performance thing."

So unlike his last visit with his old band back in 99, this time his only company on stage will be "different little boxes, drum machines, little loops and weird noises."

"For me it's always been a case of whatever I do, just make it really f***ing good. Whether it's just me on my own or with a three-piece or a five-piece band and backing singers, I treat them all equally."

Is it freeing in a way, or does the extra concentration required to keep drums drumming and loops looping cancel that out?

"It's quite liberating," he says. "Because there's no one else on stage if I decide to stick around on a groove, or on a beat there's no constraints. It's cool to have that freedom."

And if you want to hear some of those old Supergrass classics, well, that's entirely up to you.

"I do put in a couple of Supergrass songs here and there," he says, before a grinning caveat, "depending on how wild the crowd is."