10 Questions With... Superfriends
Brightonian DIY punks Superfriends are a band that wear their hearts on their sleeves. Their newest single, How To Live Life, is their best song yet - a stirring anthem that reflects on loss, while promising beautiful hope for the future in its stunning refrain of I will try to do right by you. It's a gorgeous song, at once intimate and tender while also feeling huge. As their first release since 2019's Super EP, it makes a strong comeback for the band, and if there's any justice, will win them new fans.
I recently caught up with Harry, Jake, and Callum of Superfriends and fired over 10 questions regarding the new single. Read on to see what we talked about, from The Simpsons, through Jeff Rosenstock, to dream festival line-ups.
1. Hi there! Can you tell us a bit about your new single, How To Live Life?
Harry: It’s my favourite thing we’ve ever done. The lyrics are probably the most personal I’ve written for a song, which was a neat challenge for me.
Jake: How To Live Life is an absolute killer of a song, and hits a real emotional sweet spot. I think it represents the moment we grew in confidence in a band, in terms of multi-part writing and arrangement.
Callum: I think it's probably the best thing Harry's written to date.
2. What was your recording process for the single like?
Harry: Long and difficult, thanks to covid. We started recording at the start of 2020 and had most of the instrumentals done in a few weeks, but then mixing sessions came few and far between as we went through lockdown after lockdown. The mixing sessions were at our producers’ house, so we were understandably cautious. The final thing we added to the track were the group vocals at the end, which is a pretty dangerous thing to attempt while trying to avoid an airborne virus. So we waited a long while before doing those.
Callum: It was a long time ago now. I remember it being quite repetitive!
Jake: Very stop and start because of the plague, we had a lot done before it hit but had to pick up recording a year later. It turned out great though. We had some wacky vocal recording techniques including shouting out a window and shouting into a radiator!
3. How To Live Life is your first single since 2019’s Super EP. How would you say your songwriting process has changed since then?
Harry: I’ve had to relearn how to write by myself a lot again, just because we haven’t been able to see each other that much over the past two years. That’s been pretty tough, I much prefer jamming ideas when we’re all in the same room. I think as a band we aren’t afraid of tackling longer songs with more structural changes – when I look back at the songs on our EP they’re quite simple in that sense.
4. Who is your biggest influence in terms of songwriting?
Harry: Early REM, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.
Callum: I'm a much more sporadic (lazier!) songwriter then the other two. I would say Stephen Merritt is a major inspiration though.
Jake: Eels, Jonathan Richman, The Fall, Jesus and Mary Chain, Stephen Merritt (as well), Beat Happening, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Car Seat Headrest.
5. Which comes first when you write songs: the music or the lyrics?
Harry: I used to be a “write words, music later” kinda guy but these days it’s usually the other way around. I find lyric writing quite hard but if I have a musical idea already I can sort of fit some words to it, makes it a bit easier.
6. How did the name Superfriends come about?
Harry: A long time ago, when the band was just me and Jake jamming songs at each other’s houses, we were called Slurm (after the fictional drink featured in Futurama). At some point we expanded to include more of our friends (the most we had at one time was 6), and our friend Kyran who used to play keyboards suggested we change it to Superfriends. This is also a Matt Groening animated show reference – in the episode of The Simpsons “Bart’s Comet” there is a scene where the nerds invite Bart to join their table, naming themselves the “super friends”. I have recently discovered there is another indie band named Superfriends from Japan, but they’re named after an obscure Weezer song. This seems very fitting to me as we’re all massive Weezer fans. You should check out the Japanese Superfriends too by the way, they’re great!
7. Are there any artists in particular that are inspiring you at the moment?
Harry: I recently joined this discord server for UK DIY musicians, and basically everyone in there is making amazing and fresh sounding music. This feels like a very corny thing to say but that server has really reinvigorated my love for music. Some of the bands from there: Slash Fiction, Brutalligators, I Feel Fine, Into The Red, Buds., Jumper Boy.
Callum: Emily Yacina, Alice Coltrane, The Ophelias.
Jake: Jeff Rosenstock, the catharsis of seeing his live show next year is something to look forward to in these shitty times.
8. Picture this. It’s the summer, everything is safe, festivals have returned, the sun is shining, and you’re given the chance to book an amazing all-dayer. Who have you got on the bill?
Harry: I think I’d just like to repeat my answer from the last question, haha. A UK DIY discord all- dayer is the dream (and should happen at some point next year!).
Callum: Evol/Sister era Sonic Youth, Mirah performing her first album, an early iteration of Fifth Column, Aphex Twin, The Knife, Frank Ocean...
9. What does the future hold for Superfriends?
Harry: We just had to postpone our single release show for How To Live Life, so that’s probably the most immediate thing in our future. We haven’t decided on a new date yet but it’ll probably be spring 2022. We also have another single ready to go, that’ll probably come out around the same time. After that we don’t really have any solid plans, but I’d love to record a second EP that’s of the same quality as these latest singles. Our producer on these was JUNIPR (from Brighton), I’d love to get to work with her again on some new stuff, so fingers crossed we can!
Callum: Less covid related doom hopefully!
10. And finally, on the Itchy & Scratchy CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the wizard key?
Callum: The super fun happy slide!
Harry: What the hell are you talking about?
AC is the Head of Written Content at QSO Media. Follow them on Twitter.