|ISSUE 10.2||Summer 2000|
Comfest 2000 | Superstar Rookie
Superstar Rookie has just released their first album on the local label, Diaphragm Records. Recently, their music has been referred to as cuddle-core, although the testosterone-filled crowd at the CD release party would prove otherwise. I arranged a late night rendezvous with Superstar Rookie to find out their take on the new album, the Columbus music scene, and television ...
Cringe: How did Superstar Rookie meet? How long have you been together?
Dan: Travis and I have been in bands since high school. I met Brandon when we worked at a summer camp together ... how many years ago?
Brandon: In '94.
Dan: We worked at a summer camp as counselors. This is Brandon's first band. Copper used to be in a bunch of rock bands. We met him after a Fugazi show like 4 years ago. After the show we jammed in his basement. We were playing together for about a year before we had a singer. Our first show was at Bourbon Street; and we still didn't have a singer, so Brandon and I got together and just crammed. Did you have to bring lyrics on stage?
Brandon: Very little, if any. It was a bad, bad experience.
Top to bottom:Copper (drums), Brandon (vocals), Travis (bass) and Dan (guitar)
Cringe: The new album took a long time to record. What took so long?
Brandon: We took a really long time. We weren't satisfied.
Dan: A lot of it had to do with money. Because you don't make any money at shows and we don't have extra money to spend, so we did a lot of recording at the free Recording Workshop in Chillicothe. Some of it was halfway decent. The stuff on the 7" was recorded there. But, we just decided at the beginning of this year to bite the bullet and go record with Jon Chinn at Workbook, which was the best decision we ever made.
Brandon: We have a really bad habit too ... when we write a new song that we like, we lose an old song.
Cringe: Who did the artwork on the album?
Brandon: Chad Gordon. It's amazing. I went into Higher Ground one day. And in the back there's a room with art displayed. He had a few things up there. I really liked what he was doing, so I talked to him at work and he brought in like 35 slides of paintings that he had done. I picked one and brought it to the band. We decided on the one that is on the cover, then he did all the rest of the art to match.
Cringe: Does it have any significance to the album?
Brandon: It's a social commentary. Just the way Americans talk about things and see things and deal with things. The theme of the painting was the television and that it sucks in so many people. We tried to tie in the art with the title of the album - The Problem with Words.
Cringe: I hear some Jawbreaker influence on some of the songs. Do you agree?
Dan: We're all big fans. We have a lot of different influences. Jawbreaker is one that is pretty common with all of us. But we all like so many different things.
Cringe: Do you think you fall into that pop-punk genre?
Dan: I think we're not jaded enough. Well, we're jaded, just not pretentious enough.
Cringe: How does Superstar Rookie like being a part of the Columbus music scene?
Brandon: I don't think there is much of a Columbus music scene. Well, there is, but it's so picky. Someone that goes out to bars all the time could still not know who we are, and we've been playing for 3 years. And, it makes it hard to be involved in some sort of scene. The people that do come out and support us, that's great. But Columbus needs to do something to get all the cliques together because it's almost like each label has their own group, and there needs to be something that joins all of us.
Copper: And it should be the music but it's not.
Cringe: So you think there needs to be a more collective music scene instead of lots of different interests?
Dan: If you look at the Northwest scene, everybody knows everybody. Here, everyone that has similar interests, does not like each other.
Brandon: The people that come out to our shows most often and respect us aree a huge difference if people coe play with national acts, you see this huge crowd that you've never seen before.
Cringe: Yeah, I think some other bands could have more complaints when it comes to opening for bands when they play here.
Copper: We've been super lucky in that respect. Dan Dougan [Little Brother's owner/booker] has given us the best shows ever.
Dan: Well, we've also been as cool as we can to the bar owners. We've paid our dues. We've played those last minute shows. But, we've used up all our favors. That Promise Ring show was luck. But, it's networking. And you gotta be cool and participate in the scene and try to make it better. That's the bottom line.
Cringe: Do you think the problem with the lack of interest lies in the community or the people booking the shows ... ?
Dan: CD101 does a great job, but we need a college radio station. I think that would make a huge difference - if people could tune in and hear something they have never heard before.
Cringe: Do you have any thanks to give to other bands or to anyone who contributed to the album?
SSR: Planet for Texas, Jon Chinn, Silo the Huskie, Pop Quiz, Joe Viers, everyone that has come out to see us, Dan Dougan at Little Brother's.
Dan: And Magnolia Thunderpussy sucks.
Copper: Used Kids rules.
Cringe: What are Superstar Rookie's future plans?
Dan: To buy a van and tour regionally.
Brandon: Get the rock out of Columbus.
Dan: Columbus is a great home base, but it seems like it will always be kind of stagnant. I think the reason why Columbus bands do so great is because Columbus is a good hub. It's like, "Okay, where can we get in a day?" You can hit the East Coast, Central states, south - anywhere. We just need a vehicle, then getting on the road is the next step.
Cringe: Who would be your dream bands to tour with?
Travis: Tree People, if they were still around.
Dan: Hey Mercedes.
Brandon: RATT, and we would like to be the house band at the Alrosa Villa ... Hey Mercedes and the White Octave.
Dan: We have already gotten to play with a lot of bands that we have wanted to play with.
Cringe: Is there anything else you would like to say about the album? Are you pleased with it?
Dan: Jon Chinn did a great job recording.
Copper: Joe Viers did the mastering - he was money.
Brandon: Some of our friends contributed things.
Dan: Like handclaps.
Brandon: Yeah, that was a big part.
Copper: I was worried that we all wouldn't like the album, but it finally came out and we sat and listened to it. We all dug it.
Brandon: And one of the best feelings is unwrapping your own CD.
Cringe: So what exactly is "the problem with words?"
Brandon: The title of the album is a social comment. The art theme of the disk is geared toward television - towards how people think that television is such a good way to spend an evening - listening to this monotonous BS that the TV tells you. And that's a problem.
Cringe: So Superstar Rookie would rather be sitting in their room playing guitar?
Brandon: No, I like television.
Dan: Travis like television. I would rather sit in my room and play guitar.
Cringe: That seems like a theme on the album.
Dan: The great thing with the title and the artwork is that it depends on how you take it. It's a problem with words on TV, or a problem about words that are written so people watch TV.
Brandon: And we don't speak to each other anymore.
Dan: We were gonna call it Ill Communication but somebody took that.
Since the interview, Superstar Rookie has bought a van and lost their drummer, Copper, due to personal reasons. Drummer Adam Gunn of A Planet for Texas has since stepped in. The new line-up will be playing at Addition 13 (535 E. Whittier Ave., 299-1352) on January 23 with River City High and Mock Orange.
- Interview by Liz (11/09/2000)