Today is the birthday of the famous and controversial German composer, Richard…
- Posted on Dec 9th 2010 5:20PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Christian Lantry / Arts & Crafts
At the same time, the Superchunk engine was revving up again. Re-energized by sporadic live performances, the band set about to capture the spirit of their scrappy, dynamic live show by recording their first new album in nine years. Released this past fall, the group's ninth full-length, 'Majesty Shredding,' is anything but an exercise in alt-'90s nostalgia -- the songs capture the spirit of Superchunk's long history while still sounding forward-thinking.
Back on the road for the first time in years, the band joins fellow melody-makers Broken Social Scene for a special double-header in Toronto Thursday at the Sound Academy. Spinner caught up with McCaughan to find out how the two indie-rock icons came to join forces.
Can you recall when you first heard Broken Social Scene?
I first heard BSS when 'You Forgot It in People' came out. We had a couple demo copies that they'd sent to the office that were floating around -- that's an awesome record. That was the first time I was really aware of any of the people in that band. I had gotten the first Feist record as an import because I'd heard her singing on the Kings of Convenience record, and I was like, 'Who is that? What an amazing voice!' And of course she was on the BSS record. Ever since then, all the stuff that BSS has put out, whether it's Kevin or Brendan's solo records or the actual BSS albums. I've really enjoyed all that.
And what did you think of their sound?
It reminded me not of specific bands, but just of music that I liked when we were first starting -- bands like My Bloody Valentine or Dinosaur Jr., something like that -- a good combination of noise and pop music. It was unique enough to be them, but I felt it had a familiar feeling also, in a good way.
Do you see any parallels between Broken Social Scene and Superchunk?
That's hard to say. They seem like a really unique entity in terms of the size and scope of what they're doing, and people kind of floating in and out of the band. In terms of when I've seen them live, their connection with the crowd and the fun that they seem to be having on stage, and the enjoyment that they take in what they're doing, hopefully that's something that we've managed to convey to our fans over the years as well.
Like yourself, Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew also had a hand in founding their own indie label, Arts & Crafts. He's mentioned in the past how it can be tricky to balance being a working artist while also having a hand in the label. How have you managed to juggle the two?
There are really not enough hours in the day, but frankly in the last nine years, I haven't had to juggle it too much because Superchunk hasn't really been that active. I made a few Portastatic records, but we never did the kind of touring that Superchunk used to do. So really, I managed to balance it by mainly doing the label for the last eight or nine years.
But when both things are active, you have to rely on the people in the office when you're not there and just keep in touch as much as possible. It means that you're sometimes answering e-mails at midnight or at 8 in the morning, but that's just the way it goes -- not really something to complain about.
How did the Toronto show with Broken Social Scene come about?
I've been in contact with Kevin and the band for a while just as mutual fans, I guess, and Portastatic played the Sled Island festival [in Calgary] with BSS a couple years ago. You just kind of run into each other at various places, you know? Then they asked us to play this show in Toronto, and it wasn't a city we were able to get to at the beginning of our touring [this fall], so it was an opportunity to play with BSS and get to Toronto -- we've always had good shows there, so it's exciting.
When was the last time Superchunk played Toronto?
Portastatic has been there since the last time Superchunk was, but I guess it was probably 2001 or 2002? It's been quite a while. I have a lot of great memories of Toronto, because we started really touring in earnest in '90 or '91, and from our very first tours, we've been playing there. I think the first time we played there might have been with Mudhoney in '91 at the Opera House. We've played at Lee's Palace a bunch of times, and have always had great shows there.
Now that Superchunk is touring again, have you been seeing younger fans showing up at the gigs?
We've been around so long now that we have situations where people are like, "My parents were really into you guys." But it's cool. [Our audience] is definitely weighted towards people who've been fans for a long time, but there's definitely some young people at the shows, and also people who've maybe found out about the band within the last decade or so, and we haven't been to their town in 10 years or whatever, so they've never had a chance to see us. It's a pretty good combination.
Any chance we'll see some collaboration between Broken Social Scene and Superchunk onstage?
I don't know! That stuff is always usually best left to the last minute, so we'll see ...Superchunk open for Broken Social Scene at Sound Academy in Toronto on Thursday, Dec. 9.