Laura Ballance (bass), Jim Wilbur (guitar), Jon Wurster (drums)
October 11th, 1997
SC : (Jon)
She's a fan of the band, and I think she attended a few Merge nights at
CMJ... (Laura) (L) Actually, she called to see if she could be
on the guest list. But she didn't show up. We were looking and she wasn't
there. (Jon) She and Mac had talked a few times. We already had
the concept for the video but we were looking for two directors to appear
SC : (Jon)
No, we called and asked if she wanted to do it. The concept is that she
and her brother are a video directing team, she got to pick who her brother
was going to be. And she chose David Cross, who is on HBO's "Mr. Show",
another Superchunk fan. And we're fans of theirs. We had to pay them a
lot of money, which we didn't actually pay them, but that's ... (Jim)
They're not fans anymore.
VV : I remember reading in The Independent, while I was still in college, an article written by Mac about the difficulty of getting your videos on MTV. They didn't like the concepts, the songs weren't like singles. I did see the Firecracker video on an independent show, much like Video Vision, when we were in Colorado.
VV : So your shows are selling out, you've got this video that people are talking about. Any connection?
ed. note - Superchunk sold out two nights at the Great American Music Hall on this tour
SC : (Jim)
No, three years ago we probably would have sold this hall out too. There's
sort of a plateau to it all. It's not shocking to us. It's sort of sad
that we're not selling out bigger places.
VV : Yeah, when I was in Chapel Hill I guess I perceived you as a local band...
SC : That's
because you lived in Chapel Hill. We do better out of town than in town.
VV : I can't help but notice on the new album a cleaner sound, maybe more accessible. When I play it at work, everyone likes it. Whereas, with No Pocky for Kitty it's not that accessible. Is there a new direction you're taking?
SC : (Jim)
We spent more time recording it this time. Twelve days. A little bit longer.
VV : Are you looking for a cleaner sound?
SC : (L) I think it's just naturally happening. As a result of us playing together longer and... (Jim) Playing together more complexly and you have to go for clarity (L) You have to be kind of tidy. (Jim) Otherwise it sounds muddy, like chaos...(L) A big pile of crap.
VV : Does this interfere with your performance of earlier material?
SC : (Jim)
No. We play something from every period in our live shows. When it's four
people doing their own thing, it's hard to record it. Because something
will be lost. You have to let the subtleties rise to the surface.
VV : Yeah, that really works on the new album. A lot of good slower songs...
SC : (Jim) But when we perform them, we play them twice as fast. Like last night in L.A. we played "Marquee" and people were slam dancing.
VV : Which I remember from Chapel Hill, you hate that...you mock that.
SC : (L) It
is easy to mock that. 'Cause you know, there's a certain type
of person that usually does it. (Jim) Even when people were slam
dancing, it was sort of silly. In 1984 it was silly, and in 1980 it might
have been novel, but...
VV : What ages are turning out for your shows?
SC : (L) Anywhere from 15 to 55. We have a really weird cross section of fans, I think. A broad range. (Jim) There are a lot of young kids, or a lot of older...It's hard to define.
VV : Can I
ask about the lyrics for Laughter Guns . I know Mac wants the lyrics
open to interpretation ...
SC : (L) Lofty
clouds, yes. That's how I interpreted it. (Jim) Never even thought
about it, to tell you the truth. Until just now.
VV : Was it Mac's idea to tack on that radio show and call it Laughter Guns EP? It's hilarious...
SC : (L) Is
it? I wouldn't want to hear it more than once, I don't think. (Jim
& Jon) I've never even heard the whole thing. (Jim) I was talking
to the guys who do that radio show at a party and the guy says to me ,
"Yeah, it's funny stuff right?" And we laughed, then he says, "But seriously,
how many guitars were there..."
VV : How about nautical themes?
SC : (L) Well,
Mac writes all of the lyrics and I think he attributes that to growing
up in Florida. So he was around the water a lot. And I guess his parents
made him wear water wings too, because those come up a lot.
VV : From your web page, superchunk.com, am I to understand correctly that song writing is a group effort for you?
It's always been a group effort... (L) Always been a group effort,
but a different kind of group effort this time. Before, someone would
think of something at home, bring it in to practice and ask what we thought.
And everyone would say "OK, well..." and everyone would write a part to
go with it. This time it was more like we would go to practice and stand
there and stare at each other... (Jon) Thinking it up right on
the spot, and recording it right afterwards. And then going on to different
VV : Did Watery Hands happen first and that's why it was pre-released as a single?
SC : (Jon) No, it was all recorded at once. (Jim) And it was fairly recent in the batch, it wasn't that old. When you're done recording everything then you listen to it all and decide which one will be the single. You don't record (it to be) the single as the single. (L) It's hard to decide which one to pick as the single...
ed. note - The interview
ended abruptly as a sound check drowns out all sound...
Interviewer: Humphrey Zed
Camera & Photos : Rodwin Pabello
Transcription: Catherine Lee
Editor: Catherine Lee