Following their first release in two years at the end of 2019, SuperGlu have today released Soil, an infectious pop-punk tune solidifying the promising band’s return after their hiatus. With unstoppable energy and anthemic hooks, Soil is gripping from the first few seconds, and continues to deliver throughout. Addictive? Check. A hit? Most certainly.
The Manningtree foursome disappeared mid-2017 because, you know, real life and all that. But remaining friends, and finding their way back to creating music (a blessing to us all!), Forever Endeavour (2019) and follow-up Soil have us hooked and wanting more.
Commenting on today’s release, the band said: “Soil is a song about sneaking out the back door and running for your life. Making a change and moving on – as long as you keep moving – you cannot be caught. Our seemingly lofty musicals aspirations are effortlessly undermined by a grinning cocksure guitar solo and an “Oh fuck” fluffed drum fill.”
As musically rich and addictive as Soil is, it has a deeper meaning for SuperGlu frontman and songwriter Ben Brown. We had a partly-funny-partly-deep chat with Ben – “the singing guy” – about the meaning and starting point of Soil, where it all began for SuperGlu, and some songs he’s in to (including an exclusive interpretation of The Beach Boys… prepare yourself)…
Hey guys! Strange times to be chatting, but thanks for joining us for a little e-interview. How are you all doing?
Hi Caitriona, thanks for getting in touch. It’s Ben here, the singing guy.
I’m good thanks – I was at my allotment this morning, filling a skip with pieces of carpet and pulling stinging nettle roots from a large mound (MOUNTAIN MORE LIKE!) of compost.
I then went for a two hour walk along the Essex Way with my dog Alfie and Claude. Claude is another dog; he lives up the road with a lady called Alex. Due to his behavioural issues (barking at cars, lorries, people and other dogs) I walk him. When I found myself alone on some long untrodden footpath, I took off my t-shirt to let my now pendulous man breasts hang freely in the East-Anglian afternoon sun.
A plumber has just been over to take a look at a corroded washer in the cistern of my toilet. The sneaky cause of 12 years of damp and erosion in my bathroom. We’ve agreed that fitting a new toilet would work out cheaper than him taking apart and fixing the old one. I thank the Coronavirus for giving me the time to investigate and remedy this damp problem.
Well, congrats on solving the toilet issue (and for looking after Claude for your neighbour!) But, an even bigger congrats on the release of Soil! Your first release of 2020 following on from your triumphant return to releasing music last year after a hiatus – where have you all been for the past couple of years?
Me, personally – I have been in Manningtree for the most part; where I live.
Up until six months ago I was spending the majority of my time working at an SEMH school in Langham, Essex. Six months ago, on the promise of taking on an established dog walking business, I left. Since then I have been walking dogs, teaching songwriting to children and doing odd jobs (pruning old ladies bushes, collecting bags of oats for swans to eat, selling books found in bins on Amazon) for cash.
The musician’s dream. And I had no idea that ‘Swan Oat Bagger’ was a paying job?! I might have to look at switching career paths. So, we love Soil – a truly anthemic, pop-punk tune. What meaning does this latest single hold for you?
I remember writing this song at a slightly shitty time. I was working at an Auction House in Harwich, Essex and not really enjoying it very much. I would come home, drink gin and play my guitar – then drive to work with a hangover in a tiny yellow van. I wasn’t very happy.
I wrote the song in practically one go after hearing the song You Were Right by Built To Spill; a band I’d not really listened to much before and haven’t much after.
In my head – I can picture a film scene; a sort of cliched image of a car with its engine running waiting outside a house for someone else to jump in so that it can zoom off into the night, or wherever. I guess at the time I really wanted to escape – so much so that I made up a little film in my head and set it to music. So much so that I was drinking a bottle of Tesco’s gin every night. So much so that one day I just didn’t go back to work. A few days later I set myself on fire in a neighbour’s shed.
Thank you for sharing the story behind how Soil came to exist, and being so open. I’m sure many will relate, and be thankful for people like yourself who know that open conversation is important. We’re glad you wrote the song and are now in a place to release it. Tell us a bit about your creative process as a band.
Our creative process has changed a lot over the years. Initially I would meet up with the other Ben (drums) and blast through idea after idea in a seemingly endless marathon of joy. Creativity knew no bounds.
This soon mutated into sitting around in my living room with a seemingly endless supply of New Gens (at the time, a newly branded can of Tesco lager). Songs were kept in check by our limitations as much as our aspirations – Krista (bass) had never played bass before, let alone been part of a band. This really helped us to hone our sound and only keep in what was necessary / achievable.
More recent offerings have been more of a solitary effort… with the vines of real life slowly tightening their grip, squeezing us for time and energy. Basically, I tend to write the song and bring it in some shape or form to the band. It is from there that it really finds it’s form – shape shifting from some coyly strummed acoustic tune with delusions of grandeur to an actual song with seemingly infinite possibilities. Something that someone somewhere might actually want to listen to! Everybody in the band has different opinions and tastes – and it is working with and against these that turns it into a SuperGlu song.
Alex brings an incredible ear for melody, counter melody and a completely different approach to playing the guitar. His voice knows no limits. Unmatched. No problem.
Ben Ward has an insatiable appetite for getting things ‘just-so’, often pulling up things that I would happily let go; intelligently challenging and playing devil’s advocate, sometimes seemingly just for the sake of it. I believe this push and pull is healthy and breeds just the right amount of creative tension.
Krista, in the rehearsal room, is more subtle and understated. She has an innate ear for melody and an excellent music taste – this combined with an unpretentious approach to her instrument can often yield unexpected and ‘game changing’ results. Her voice, of course, offers something different tonally to the wounded neanderthal war cries emitted by my brother and I, and the brain-dead atonal murmurings of a pizza menu/self inflicted virility curse by Ben on the tubs.
So, about SuperGlu – how did the band come to be?
SuperGlu came to be because I wrote a bunch of songs that were deemed too simplistic (“you’re better than that!”) by some (not all) members of alt-rock virgin circus Dingus Khan.
Luckily for me – Ben Ward had moved back to Ipswich after breaking up with his girlfriend in Brighton. He was in an emotionally vulnerable state and his insatiable appetite for smoking weed combined with his poor diet (£1 Admiral Pies) and willingness to let me sleep in his bed left him tired, malnourished and open to the idea of starting a band.
He was attempting to hold down a job for some sort of advertising company, but regularly forgot to bring a pen to meetings; occasionally he would excuse himself under the pretense of ‘going to find a pen’, find a toilet cubicle, and masturbate.
I, at the time, was unemployed and languishing as some sort of village idiot figure. Largely regarded as a laughing stock by my peers – I was literally performing in toilet cubicles and was known by my insisting to perform essentially inaudible acoustic shows to a largely uninterested audience.
It’s safe to say I relished the opportunity to spend time making music late into the night with my best friend. Luckily ‘Ben Club’ actually sounded alright. Alright enough to convince Alex and Krista to join to play a show to 30 people in a pub. The rest, as they say – is misery!
Wow, what a story! And why the name ‘SuperGlu’?
After our first show, the bookings kept coming in. We tried a few different names – but they seemed like they were getting worse; Club Treehouse (parrppp!), Big Tobacco (I was quite keen on that one), Kate (I liked that one too..)
THEN.. Our demo of Diving Bell was picked up by Richard and Graham at BBC Suffolk and before we knew it we were due to be played on Radio 1 by Huw Stephens; so we needed a name. We picked SuperGlu – and it stuck.
A last minute masterpiece! The energy of your music is infectious, and we all love punk-pop when it’s done as well as you guys do it. What bands and musicians influence you guys?
I love music, though I must say I don’t massively draw inspiration or take influence from other bands.
Unless it’s a smash and grab – hear a song, think it’s cool, try and recreate the cool bit; hey presto! By forcing a half grasped idea through your internal Brita Filter you’ve created your very own song! (That’s what happened with Soil)
More recently I’ve been taking influence books and the natural world outside. By inspiration I guess I mean beauty – which is kind of the same thing I suppose. That’s what it feels like to me anyway.
I would like to mention a band called Garden Centre and their talisman Max Levy. This guy is a truly fantastic songwriter with a unique voice; a singular beauty. If you take anything from this interview – I would like it to be this recommendation.
Noted. We’re coming for you Max Levy. So you guys are known for putting on some blinding live shows, playing at SXSW and Reading and Leeds to name a few, so I can only imagine you’re missing performing on stage at the moment. Do you have any favourite memories from gigs?
I think I am perhaps missing performing onstage yes. I have little to no desire to get involved in any live streaming at the current time.
I used to think that the joy I found onstage was perhaps potentially rooted in some sort of need for my ego to be massaged and an insatiable lust for attention. I now don’t think that’s the case. What I enjoy about live performance is the unpredictability, the unshakable reality. Lots of people in the room at the same time; and for a short time, sharing something.
Favourite memories wise – at this stage they all kind of blur into one.
I know I have been profoundly moved on numerous occasions whilst playing – goosebumps, a momentary inability to sing, a tear perhaps. I suppose that ‘feeling’ is my favourite moment; when everything just lifts and floats momentarily – snaps into place for less than a second. When it is everything and nothing all at once, when it is golden and held by God. Then, and only then, is when you realise any of it is worth a thing at all.
And any plans for shows later in the year (if lockdown does end, that is *fingers crossed*)?
It’s sort of impossible to plan anything at the moment. I feel sorry for promoters scrabbling to rearrange dates and offer new potential options – saying yes to anything feels like taking out a tenancy agreement on a sandcastle. So, no, nothing actually confirmed yet.
True and unfortunate state of affairs. What about some more music – any more releases this year? We’d love an EP… maybe an LP sometime soon… no pressure…
Yeah, we’re going to release an album called Fig in the very near future. The finishing mixes are being done as we speak!
Nice! A beautiful nugget of information to finish on! So as our readers are stuck at home, we were hoping you’d give us a few of your favourite songs you’re listening to at the moment, and tell us briefly why you’ve chosen them (a mini isolation playlist if you will)?
I’ve made a cover version of a song called Help Me Rhonda by the Beach Boys. There is something about the song which has always intrigued me.
Rhonda seems to at first take the form of a naive Lolita type character, then – in my mind – shifts to a dominant female role à la Mistress Wanda from Venus in Furs.
Half way through the chorus, without changing the words – using only the power of music – somehow it goes from: “‘Help Me Rhonda‘ – Patriarchal – flirtatious / can we kiss? Can I buy you a milkshake?” to “’Help Me Rhonda‘ – Matriarchal – I’m down at your feet and I’m begging you, please help me I’m going out of my head and I don’t understand life anymore please please you’re the only person that can help me.”
Garden Song, Bill Fay: “Bill Fay is an oft overlooked English songwriter. In this song Bill talks about planting himself in the garden. There is something comforting and everyday about it. As we’ve seen, nature goes on regardless. It always has and hopefully always will. There is also something slightly unnerving about the song. The way he repeats ‘believe me‘ feels like he’s begging me to understand him. In a film, he would briefly appear in a mirror before fading from view. It brings to mind paintings by Magritte.”
Dance Like U, Okay Kaya: “My friend Iris showed me it. It’s really chilled and gentle but it has a swear word in the chorus which is exhilarating.”
I Like To Stay Home, R. Stevie Moore
Jason from Antigen records has recorded some great podcasts. Worth listening too for his comments between songs alone … the music isn’t bad either.
Oooh we love a bit of Bill Fay in the n-eight office (or home office for the foreseeable future!) Thank you for talking to us, and we look forward to more tunes (and see you back on stage once freedom is restored!) Keep well!
Thank you for the support. I’m glad you like the track and I’ve really enjoyed having this conversation with you – albeit via email!
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