Checking In: TC Superstar Creates a Micro Scene at Home

“A Black Live Music Fund would be a great step in the right direction”

TC Superstar’s 2018 sophomore LP Heat Death conceptualized environmental end times that found the human race “coming to terms with death on a global scale,” wrote the Chronicle. As the Austin octet breaks from its infectious booty-shaking indie pop and rock, its dance instructor/bandleader Connor McCampbell plots the group’s next choreographed move.

Everybody Dance Now: Connor McCampbell (l) leads TC Superstar at the Long Center’s Skyline Theater on June 14, 2019 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

Connor McCampbell: I’m sheltering at my home in North Austin. Mitch [Webb], who has played keys for TC Superstar, just moved out, so it’s just me, LB Flett, and Marcus Bell. LB dances and choreographs for TC Superstar and Marcus plays bass for Indoor Creature. It feels like we have a tiny slice of the scene right at home.

The pandemic has brought everyone their set of difficulties, but I’m grateful to spend it with good friends.

“I’ve never spent more than about a year on an album, and now I have a great reason to slow down. I’m excited to see how the trajectory of the band will change due to this pandemic.”

AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

CM: The cancellation of SXSW was when we realized that this was going to put a pause on our performing careers. We cancelled planned tours through the East coast and Midwest, festival appearances, and all local shows. We were planning the final phase of development for a new album, but it’s been difficult because most of us can’t meet in person to work on music, design, or choreography.

I try to refrain from indulging frustrations that arise from constraints the virus has imposed on my creative process. I’ve never spent more than about a year on an album, and now I have a great reason to slow down. I’m excited to see how the trajectory of the band will change due to this pandemic.

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?

CM: I think a couple things happen when communities like ours are unable to gather in person. Firstly, heartache. All the musicians I know are coping with isolation in different ways, but we all miss being able to talk over a beer at a show.

“I used to listen to a lot of the bands I’d see live in Austin or on the road, but now it puts me in a melancholy and nostalgic mood.”

Another important thing that happens is we all have the time to think critically about our space. Everyone from venue owners to bands and fans has been able to reflect on the Austin music scene and ask how we could make it better for everyone. The current proposal for a Black Live Music Fund would be a great step in the right direction; I hope our scene can emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before.

AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

CM: I was furloughed around SXSW. I was scared because Texas Unemployment didn’t really have a way for me to account for gig or freelance earnings, and it didn’t believe I made as much money as I did working for Guitar Center working part time. So at first, I wasn’t making enough to cover rent/utilities.

After Unemployment was raised, I started making more a month than when I was working. I was just rehired by Guitar Center and start my first shift tomorrow, so the work situation is constantly shifting!

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

CM: Honestly, I haven’t really been listening to much lately; it’s been nice to enjoy the ambient sounds of the neighborhood. I used to listen to a lot of the bands I’d see live in Austin or on the road, but now it puts me in a melancholy and nostalgic mood. That’s nice on occasion, but for everyday listening I’ll put on some house music and bop around doing chores to the beat.


Check out the entire Checking In series.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

TC Superstar, Connor McCampbell, Mitch Webb, LB Flett, Marcus Bell, Indoor Creature, Guitar Center, Checking In 2020

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