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Winners of the MusicOz Award for Best Alternative Artist 2007, Super Massive take alternative pop music in a whole new direction, meshing multi-layered synthscapes with the visceral impact of a full rock band.
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Interview: 30 June 2008
Describe your music:
A 50/50 mix of electronic music - with its lush synth sounds, tortured filters & mod wheel action screaming its head off - and the raw power of a traditional rock band: Menacing guitars, super funky basslines and in-your-face drums. In the beginning we amused ourselves by thinking, "imagine if a band could join another band - complete opposites - like if Led Zeppelin joined the Basement Jaxx" or AC/DC and Daft Punk were onstage together. I think we were exploring that part of the world. Then there's the vocals, which can be sweet and haunting, or pop simple, or belting it out, depending on the needs of the song. We don't limit ourselves to any particular genre or style.
What is your music making process?
We don't really have a set formula as such. For most of the songs Glenn writes the music first & then we try different vocal melodies and write the lyrics last. Occasionally I write the lyrics and melody first and he adds the arrangement afterwards, whatever works. First and foremost, we try to write music that we'd like to hear ourselves if we were punters watching our own band. Sometimes it feels like it's writing itself and the ideas are just flowing out, but some songs.. you just need to know when to hit delete. We write and record all the synth parts in our home studio on computer, and then bring it into the rehearsal studio for the boys to develop and add their own nuances. When we're ready to record the organic instruments and vocal parts we go to Puzzle Factory recording studio out at Penrith.
How do your live gigs work?
Lots of planning goes into our gigs on all facets, from making sure a big touring act isn't playing the same night that might affect our crowds, to choosing a venue that has a good P.A., choosing support bands we'd like to play with and that we think punters would like to see, and how we should promote the gig. But once all that is done we are essentially a 4piece band with vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drums & laptop computer, & we work it baby, we like to put on a show.
We hear there is 'contemporary tribal dance' in your performance.. please explain.
We're interested in making music that either moves you or makes you move - that is, affects you emotionally or makes you want to dance. I like feeling and expressing music through my whole body, I really like to feel it in my guts, my pelvis. I like completely letting go and getting lost in the music. I've always been intrigued by the practise of accessing trance states & ecstatic states through movement and music, the way tribal cultures have done for aeons in African, Haiitian, Jamaica, Turkey and other parts of the world. Getting into an altered state with just the music as the drug! That ability has largely been lost from our culture and I think it should be brought back, so I'm leading the way. The 'contemporary' part is one half movement therapy - using your body efficiently & powerfully - and one half funky robot... or praying mantis, as the case may be...
What piece of gear could you not live without?
That would be the computer, it seems everything we do revolves around it, from writing our music, to making all our contacts in the music industry. In close second, my iRiver E10. It goes everywhere with me. It's an mp3 player, like an ipod, but it's much more sophisticated. It has a voice recorder, which I use dictaphone-style when song ideas pop up. I listen to radio on it as well as songs I have stored on there, and I keep some vocal warm-ups on it too, that come in handy before gigs.
What was the last music (vinyl/cd etc) you bought? what made you buy it?
For Glenn it was Depeche Mode's "Playing the Angel", on vinyl. If he really likes something he'll order it in on vinyl. He liked Depeche Mode's previous albums - they've always got at least two or three killer tracks, so it was pretty much a safe bet. It's a very dark album, but he loves all the tracks on it.
For me it was Etta James, "Her Best". It's a collection of songs from her Chess Records heyday, when Chess managed to marry her scorching, screaming, gospel blues sound with pop songs for a winning new soul pop combination. I bought it as an introduction to her after I saw 1960s footage of her singing on the doco series Soul Deep: The Story Of Black Popular Music and was struck by her singing and realised I knew very little about her music. Am always delving to discover great singers.
What have you got planned for the future?
It's a very hard Industry to make plans for, but you just have to keep sowing as many seeds as you can and see what comes up. That means applying for every festival and great support spot & going for every opportunity you can to keep moving the band forward & upwards. You definitely have to make your own luck. We are heading back north and interstate soon, and we have our eye on a visit to the UK at some point - our video is gettting played on tv over there at present.
Australian music is?
Resilient! And harbouring some unique, world-class artists. Although, it can be a bit like an iceberg - only a few get to be on top, enjoying their time in the sun, so if you're not in for the love of playing music you're wasting your time.
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