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Volume 90, Issue 97
Thursday, March 27, 1997
Greatness in waiting
©Gazette file photo
THEY LOOK PRETTY SUPER, BUT NOT TOO FRIENDLY. The Superfriendz will be in London tonight with labelmates Sloan at the Western Fairgrounds in the Progress Building.
By Robert Thompson
Five years down the road, many would say the much-heralded Halifax scene really has bottomed out, never really amounting to much.
Everyone knows about Sloan, but the others have not fared nearly as well. Hardship Post broke up and at least one member went back to school. Jale has never made it to the point many expected, and Eric's Trip, who actually are from Moncton, dissolved into a bunch of not-as-popular side projects that sound like, well, Eric's Trip. Thrush Hermit took over a year to release its major label debut, but its chance at success may have already come and gone.
Then there's the quirky and clever Superfriendz, who have just released Slide Show, one of the most subtle and smart records to come out in a long time. The album sees the band toy with the classic pop song and turn it into a raving monster that weaves in and out of what the listener expects. It's still pop, but with a difference. It is also a pretty bold move for a band with three singers (bassist Charles Austin and guitarists Matt Murphy and Drew Yamada) that barely sold 10,000 records its first time out.
"When we made this album, we tried to keep away from sounding like anything from the east coast," says Murphy. "We wanted a unique sound that would set us apart. So Sloan put out this almost-perfect pop album and if we were going to make a pop album this year, we'd only set ourselves up for some criticism and failure in other people's eyes. We really wanted to explore parts of our musical interests other than pop."
How the all-important record buying public will react to this new phase is the real question. In the Superfriendz' case it is generally teens under 20-years old which will make or break the band. Going through that difficult singer-songwriter phase has killed other larger-selling bands before. Murphy is aware of the problem, but thinks the kids will get this record. Just give them some time and some respect.
"I think the kids who have heard our records maybe their older brothers have put them onto it like it and come to the shows and know all the words," says Murphy, who is obviously happy with Slide Show's reception to this point. "I feel the kids will get it. There's no reason they shouldn't."
But there appears to be one major stumbling block Bush X. Or at least, all the hugely successful mainstream rock bands that are currently blasting the airwaves with their own pompously self-interested arena rock. Murphy concedes the battle will be hard to fight, but if Superfriendz can hang on, it will persevere.
"It seems like when Bush X is spending a million dollars on a video about giving birth to a fly and then the kids see us doing what we do, well, I just don't see how we could ever fit in," he said. "It's just not timely. But I'm not worried about that and I'm certainly not bitter. That's just the way it is. At the moment that's what people want to hear and want to see.
"But I think that eventually we're going to do something to change that. One day it will come our way."
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997