I brought in Brendan for this one. In advance of their upcoming NYC gig with Nada Surf @ Terminal 5 this Fri April 11, which I am very excited for, Brendan sent some questions over to John of Superdrag. Here's the Q&A:
Q. Superdrag fans were surprised and delighted last Fall when we learned that the original line up was reforming to play some shows. With more dates planned and a new album on the way, many are curious how this reunion came about. What made now feel like the right thing at the right time?
J: For one thing, I think alot of the music on my last record (ARIGATO!) and alot of what I had written in the meantime just sounded like Superdrag music. I guess between the four of us we just had means, motive and opportunity to do it and everybody was down for it.
Q. Speaking of the new album, a recent blurb in Nashville Scene described the atmosphere in the studio as "closer to a backyard game of horseshoes than an album session." Talk a little bit about that. How is the feel in the studio different this time around compared to past experiences making a Superdrag album?
J: Ha. Yeah, that was funny. Horseshoes. It's been interesting because we've been concentrating our times to work into very short, very focused blasts of activity where everybody just shows up well-prepared to do what they're going to do with absolutely no screwing around. Like, shooting for maximum effectiveness at all times because we're trying to track 3 or 4 songs top-to-bottom in 2 days or whatever. Sort of the opposite of how we approached a record like "Head Trip In Every Key", for instance. So it's probably some of the most focused work we've ever done, but because there are absolutely no external pressures and no obligations to anyone except ourselves and the people who'll want to hear this record, it's also been about the most at-ease we've ever been on any of the albums.
Q. Whenever I mention that one of my favorite bands is from Nashville people assume it must be a Country group. There's probably a pretty widely held misconception that Nashville doesn't rock. You guys have worked to dispel that myth. So does Nashville, in fact, rock? Is there a thriving club scene there?
J: Oh, definitely. There are plenty of clubs, plenty of bands, plenty of committed people trying to get it happening for themselves. And a great deal of diversity musically.
Q. I've read a lot of interviews in which musicians confess to never listening to their own records after they've been released. Often times they get burned out on their songs having heard them zillions of times during the writing, recording, and mixing phase of the process. How 'bout you? Do you ever find yourself sitting back and listening to Head Trip in Every Key or Last Call for Vitriol? Is it hard to listen to your songs without second guessing certain aspects of the finished product?
J: Hmm. No, I haven't heard either one of those records in a long while. I listened to Regretfully Yours before we started rehearsing for last year's shows, and I hated it less than I remembered. I have always sort of held a grudge against that album; not the songs, but my performance on it. And the way it was mixed. I'm not a big second-guesser; we're pretty deliberate nowadays.
Q. This one's for John specifically. John, how have you found the song writing process to be different as a solo artist than it is when you're creating music with Superdrag, particularly this time around?
J: I wouldn't say it's any different.
Q. This is kind of a goofy one. I was once asked, "If you could wake up to one song, every morning for an entire year, what would it be?" My answer was True Believer by Superdrag. 'Seems only appropriate that I pose this question to you now. Imagine it: every morning for 365 straight days, instead of an annoying alarm clock, you're coaxed out of bed by one song. What would it be?
J: John Coltrane, "A Love Supreme: Part 1: Acknowledgement." That would do nicely. Or "Better Git It In Your Soul" by Charles Mingus.
Q. A couple videos were posted on your webpage recently of the studio work you've been doing at Lake Fever, in which we see John playing bass and Tom singing and playing guitar. Is that sort of thing typical during a Superdrag recording?
J: No, that'll be a first on this album. I played some of the bass on In The Valley Of Dying Stars, and of course Sam Powers contributed songs to the last proper album, but this will be the first time Tom, Brandon and Don have all three taken part in the songwriting. We haven't really been collaborating thusfar, but everybody's bringing good material in. I love "Cheap Poltergeists."
Q. On a recent road trip my buddy Scott commented about how much he could hear the influence of Teenage Fanclub in Superdrag's Pine Away. From which bands would you say Superdrag has drawn their greatest influence?
J: Sebadoh. Dinosaur Jr. Definitely Teenage Fanclub. My Bloody Valentine. The Beatles. Hüsker Dü.
Q. No one wants to be the guy to ask the standard, boring "What can we expect on the new album" question. But, um, what can we expect on the new album? Are there any particular themes, sounds, or styles you've collectively tried to steer the music toward?
J: We just want to make a complete musical statement---something that's completely honest. I feel if there is such thing as a "signature" Superdrag album, now would probably be a good time to make it.
Good stuff. Much thanx to John, Brendan, and Jeffery. If you guys enjoyed this, I'll set up some more of these.
FYI - Brendan is currently in Charlie Watts Riot and was/is(?) a member of The Wait along with frequent contributor Scott.