Fun Fun Fun Fest Preview: Superchunk
Fri., 6:50pm, Orange stage
As bassist of Superchunk and co-founder of Merge Records with bandmate Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance maintains a solid grasp of the indie rock demographic. Nevertheless, some things still surprise her.
Take "This Summer," for example. The North Carolina-bred quartet's latest single buzzes with seasonal energy, so they released it alongside a surprisingly fierce cover of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer."
"I couldn't believe the amount of attention this summer-themed 7-inch got," says Ballance. "There was something about it in Time magazine! It made me realize that people really like the idea of things having a theme tied in to what's going on. It made me think that we need to do a Halloween record!"
Founded in 1989, Superchunk was one of the most reliable bands on the Nineties underground circuit. They released seven full-length albums and toured incessantly. Noise-pop anthems like "Slack Motherfucker" evolved into generational touchstones. Then came 2001's Here's to Shutting Up, released a week after 9/11 into the maw of a moribund economy.
"The record itself and playing it live was not fun," sighs Ballance.
Nine years passed before Superchunk recorded another studio album, but 2010's Majesty Shredding made up for lost time: "The whole process of making it was more fun. The songs have more energy. It's more fun to play them out."
Meanwhile, big sellers from Spoon and Arcade Fire helped make Merge the nation's marquee indie label.
"The label had started growing before we took time off, but it blew up during the time we weren't doing Superchunk," reveals Ballance. "As a result, we hired a bunch of people. We delegated responsibility. It's now a bit easier to take a few days or a few weeks off to go play some shows."