Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Interview: Supervillain

NYC's Supervillain has been causing heads to turn (and roll) with their latest release Earthquake Machine (read our review). Taking time out from their tireless promotional campaign, drummer Lou Gasparro and vocalist Morgan Adams sat down to answer a few questions for Harvest Moon Music.

Supervillain
[HMM] So what have you and Supervillain been up to since the release of Earthquake Machine?
[Lou] We've been playing shows and sending out the record to people like yourself, trying to get it to the next level in terms of a manager, booking agent, label, etc. Between all of that business end stuff we've been writing new material for our second full length album. So far completed songs are "Dreaming Gods", "Inside My Armor", "Sky Is Falling", "Cosmic Casualty", "Outland Messiah", and a few untitled compositions and floating ideas as well.

I see that Mike has left the band and was replaced by a guy named Rocket. How did you find him and what's his background?
[Lou] Yes, Mike Mirabella left in April and we jumped on Rocket. Rocket is a friend of Supervillain vocalist Morgan Adams. He's a NYC dude who's been around playing in bands like After Party and The Toilet Boys. Rocket is a heavy guitarist with great enthusiasm for this band and is also a great artist.

With a new album in the works, is Rocket a part of the writing process or has most of the music already been penned?
[Lou] Some of them were already penned, but Rocket has without a doubt put his stamp on those songs and has added his input as to how his parts are played. His style and ideas are being put to use in this new writing stage we've entered.

How does Supervillain write their songs? Does each member have a part to play, or is there a main lyrical/music contributor?
[Lou] Each member of Supervillain has a big part in how the songs sound and are arranged. Myself and J. Nicholas have been the main musical contributors in the past with Morgan taking care of the lyrics. Blue Wilding has made big contributions since joining the band and has also injected his style into our music. We usually have riffs that we bring in and arrange them together with Morgan's lyrics. But it's usually riffs, then vocals, then arrangement. Lots of sweat and deafness..Ha!

In my reviews, I've mentioned bands like Black Sabbath, Kyuss, and Monster Magnet as influencing your sound. Where do you guys draw your musical influences from?
[Lou] Well Sabbath has been a huge influence, y'know. Sabbath has had an obvious influence on everybody that plays heavy music, I'd say. Kyuss and Monster Magnet probably cite Sabbath as an influence also, so that's where I think the comparisons come from. We've heard both bands' music, but not enough to say they've influenced us. I played in Blitzspeer with Phil Caivano, who was in Monster Magnet for a while. I'd say our musical influences come from all the greats...Zep, Sabbath, Bad Brains, Priest, Rush, Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Pantera. You know, all the stuff we've grown up listening to and absorbing.

And how about the lyrics? What inspires you?
[Morgan] It depends. The songs on our ep and Earthquake Machine were inspired by real life situations, things I wanted to comment on or things that I had experienced. For the new record I took a different approach because I wanted to challenge myself and the band, so after the first two songs were written I stumbled upon the idea of a concept record. Since I am writing a continuous thread throughout the new material (which is a sci-fi/war story), it is a totally different process. It is refreshing and interesting to write fiction as opposed to the harsh reality I was dealing with before, although, metaphorically speaking there are some real life issues buried in the subtext of the new lyrics.

Supervillain is a down to earth, blue-collar kind of band that would be a hit here in Detroit. What do you guys do to earn the bread when not playing, rehearsing, and recording?
[Lou] We'd love to play in Detroit. Rock City, that it is! So many great sounds in music history have come out of there and I'm sure our brand of heaviness would come across and be related to in a positive way. We all pretty much have day jobs that supplement our income. We basically work the days to pay for the nights.

I really enjoyed Earthquake Machine. How has the album been received there locally?
[Lou] Thanks, we're all glad to hear that you dug the record. People have responded really well to Earthquake Machine and we pride ourselves on playing the slammingest live shows possible. We're a band that glories in the live setting, so when you hear the record you're hearing us as we are live, and vice versa, but you're actually seeing us play it. For me, that's the whole thing. That's what makes it exciting for us and for fans.

You're getting a ton of press, both here in the US and internationally, and you're doing it all on your own. Are you surprised at how far word of Supervillain has spread?
[Lou] It hasn't been easy, to say the least. You put so much time and effort into getting things done and it's a waiting game. Like the album has been out since January 2005 and we're recently getting reviews and emails on it now, so it's a process and you have to be very patient. How ever far our word has spread hasn't really come as a surprise though. We're pushing it and working hard bro, and we try to get things done. It's a lot of work for a band on their own.

[Morgan] It's nice to have whatever recognition we have up to now, but it is nowhere near the amount we would like to eventually enjoy. It is very difficult to get any real gauge of your audience when you live and play in NYC, there is so much competition and a lot of people prefer style over substance. So we don't want to stop until we can support ourselves as working musicians and quit our day jobs. That means getting out there and playing cities where people are actually enthusiastic and want to see a real live kickass heavy rock band like us.

With the glut of commercialized "rock" owning the airwaves these days, have you had any success getting some of your tunes on the radio there in NYC, or anywhere else for that matter?
[Lou] Yes it has been difficult to get on the radio. Some college stations and internet radio across the world have been helping, but mainstream American radio - no dice. You gotta have some money behind you on that one without a doubt. Radio in NYC is pretty bad. Satellite radio is the move for the future but commerciality will probably wreck that soon too. It's basically a financial concern..it costs. To do a nationwide promo campaign is expensive, so we do things like trying to get on CD Comps, which we just came out on a Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles "Knuckletracks" comp #89. The song "Drowning" off of Earthquake Machine is sandwiched between bands like Still Remains and Nile. Things like that really help, y'know.

With radio essentially controlled by corporate conglomerates, do you think that radio airplay is a necessary requirement for success anymore?
[Lou] I think radio helps to get a band's name and sound heard by many people very quickly, but conglomerates don't really care about artists and their music. It's about numbers to them. They care about sponsors and the art of making money, that's it.

Your new album is tentatively titled Dreaming Gods. What's the significance of that name and does it depart from the sound of Earthquake Machine?
[Lou] The sound is still Supervillain, but it reaches another level. As we've grown and performed together more, a natural evolution occurs in that progression cannot be avoided. We're taking things further, adding flavors, different ideas and overall we are totally pysched about this new stuff. The combination of our material from the ep, Earthquake Machine, and Dreaming Gods is going to be a blistering live set. We feel great about what we do and write to please ourselves. Like I've said before, we are students of heavy music and we write what we'd want to hear a band play. Quality songs, quality production, quality performance - everything after that is up to the listener.

[Morgan] We also have to take into account that there are two new minds involved in the writing process, who have their own tastes and influences, which affect our new sound. Which, I feel, is the best we have sounded to date. Heavier and harder than before.

When are you hoping to have the writing process completed and enter the studio?
[Lou] Hopefully late this summer, early autumn, we'd like to start pre-production and basic tracks.

I want to thank you for taking time out to answer my questions. To wrap things up, is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask, but never has?
[Lou] Thank you Dave for being interested in Supervillain and supporting underground music. A question that interviewers never ask is if people thought Tony Iommi wrote better riffs with a mustache or without...ha!

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