The Brooklyn-based rock band Superbloom, comprised of members Dave Hoon, Matteo Dix, Tim Choate and Brian DiMeglio, has been gearing up for the June 1 release of Pollen, the band’s debut album. And though the guitars are loud and heavy—a proper nod to the grunge artists of the ‘90s—strong melodies, acoustic tracks and compelling vocals tie the album together to represent a unique take on the genre. Pollen was mastered by Will Yip, mixed by Joe Reinhart and produced by Superbloom.
Read on for our interview with Superbloom, where we discuss how the band got started and the process behind the new album.
How did the band come about? What’s your origin story?
Tim Choate, Guitarist: Dave and I have been friends since we were kids. We were always in bands with each other and with other friends. We got the idea for this band late night at a bar and we wanted to name it Low Places because we were having a few to the Garth Brooks song of the same name. We wrote out a few demos together—Dave played the drums—and we recorded them. The engineer who did our drum tracks recommended his friend Brian who had just moved to town. After we met B, we put out a CraigsList ad for a drummer, which is how we met Matteo who also just moved to the city. Now we’re a band, and Brian and Matteo are roommates. Shoutout to craigslist.
What draws each of you to music, in general, and grunge in particular?
Choate: Being in bands has always been a part of my life and it’s all about the friendships. I think there’s a special bond with band friends and that’s always drawn me to it. But grunge and alternative rock are kind of full circle for me. I grew up learning to play guitar to Nirvana like everyone else, but then I grew into punk, hardcore, metal and a bunch of other genres before recently circling back to influential music that got me started in the first place.
The album art for Pollen seems like it is the result of a very conscious concept or idea—what was the process for developing the art? Is there a meaning behind it?
Matteo Dix, Drummer: This is actually a case of the art coming before the concept: it’s a piece by this awesome collage artist called Patrick Turk (www.instagram.com/patrickturk76), who we came across online and instantly loved. Long story short, we connected with Patrick, bought the original piece he had already created, and developed the album art from a hi-res photo of the piece itself, which is hanging pretty in my living room at this very moment.
Your style is an awesome nod back to the grunge of the ‘90s—is it difficult to sell people on grunge in 2021 when that genre is so far outside of the popular zone of music?
Dix: We’re not the first to say this and likely won’t be the last, but.. I think grunge is more of a tag that gets attributed to you, or a term you might use for lack of a better one, rather than a specific sound you consciously strive for. We basically try to write and play music that we would like to listen to, and it just so happens that we all love loud, melodic, slightly hazy but heavy rock. Which I suppose is what grunge is, so what do I know? We’re definitely not reinventing the wheel, but I think we’re giving our own spin to something that sounds familiar to many, and that seems to be resonating with a few people out there. So I guess the TLDR would be that it’s actually pretty easy to sell people on grunge in 2021
What did the songwriting process look like for the LP? Lyrics first, or music? Group jam sessions until you strike gold or more individual songwriting?
Dix: Most of the time we’re a music first, lyrics second band when it comes to writing. Each song on the record has its own little origin story, but our typical writing process goes something like this: Dave or Tim bring a song idea to practice; we figure out the bone structure together, with the whole band contributing inputs; we record a demo on our phone; by the time the following practice comes around, the original songwriter has totally revamped (or destroyed) the song to the point where it sounds nothing like the demo; we all relearn it from scratch, and re-contribute inputs; rinse and repeat until it’s complete.
Dave Hoon, Singer: For me it always starts out as an acoustic demo because if it sounds cool acoustic it’s going to sound cool loud. And to Matteo’s point, “(song name) is dead” is one of my many band practice catchphrases.
Is there a track on the record that you recognize as being the most difficult to get to its finished product?
Dix: Glass Candy Wrapper almost didn’t make it on the record. We’ve been playing that song for years at this point, but could never quite strike the right balance of acoustic + heavy + groovy. After all the various iterations it went through, it’s ended up sounding pretty similar to one of its first ever incarnations. Turns out everything is better with tambourines.
Hoon: I’d also throw in Spill. I bet the guys forgot that we recorded Spill in its entirety but when I brought it home to record vocals, I couldn’t hit any of the notes so we had to re-record the entire thing in a different key. Like not even close. We went from C to G or whatever it ends up being because we drop tune down. And then we re-did the drums a few weeks after we re-did all the guitars. Good times.
Is there a track on the record that you guys think is either your best or your favorite song?
Dix: Pollen and Worms probably have the widest range sonically, in terms of having slightly more unique parts and more ups & downs. So if by best we mean most elaborate in terms of songwriting, I’d throw in those two. I don’t think we’d all be able to agree on a favourite. I’ll take the diplomatic road and say we love all of our kids equally, even though everyone knows that any parent who says that is definitely lying.
‘Muzzle’ is a giant step away from the overriding grunge of the record—what’s the story behind that song and how did you come to the decision to have the track be so stripped-down that it’s just the vocals and an acoustic guitar?
Hoon: I don’t think we are trying to be one thing, which I know is cliche to say. We are as pop as we are alternative rock as we are punk (except we aren’t cool enough to be punk)—So it wasn’t like a big decision or anything to have a different sounding song. It was just a riff I had for many years that I would hum and forget different melodies to and eventually a chorus melody stuck and it turned into Muzzle. I sent the finished track to the guys unannounced and they dug it for the album so it’s on there and on there early. It was originally gonna be listed 4th like the acoustic song on some of Joyce Manor’s records (Cody, Million Dollars to Kill Me) but things changed.
‘Glass Candy Wrapper’ has a really interesting sonic feel to it, with the prominent, bright acoustic melody on top of the full-band—how did the concept of a ‘glass candy wrapper’ come to you, and what does it mean to you?
Hoon: Yep. It took a ton of tries to get all the ingredients to play nice. We had a full distortion version and a version with Matteo using hot rods. So I would say the concept of GCW was slowly revealed to us despite our best efforts to give up on it.
In ‘Twig,’ you play a lot with silence between verses and choruses and it creates a really interesting effect. When you started working on this track, was there a clear picture beforehand of the kind of soundscape you wanted to create with this song, or did it kind of develop organically into what it is today?
Hoon: Twig definitely has an absoluteness vibe to it. We wanted an album closer so I guess some of the sparseness comes from purposely writing a dark acoustic song to end a record. I recorded Twig at my apartment last summer and it was too hot to turn the AC off so there’s a hum of the AC on multiple tracks. So I think what makes the silence sonically interesting was not intended.
Is there an overriding theme or motif that inspired the record and ties it together?
Dix: The songs were written and arranged over years at this point, so although there isn’t really a theme as such, I think the record does a good job of capturing how our sound has evolved over time. Leash, Spill and Glass Candy are all at least a year older than Mary for example, if not two years older. Dave came up with most of the songs on the record, so I asked him for a one-liner about the theme/motif. He said: “If I had one I would have answered the question myself, numbnuts.” So maybe that’s our theme.
What does the future of Superbloom look like? Tours, more albums, etc?
Hoon: Grow out our hair, tour and then tour some more.
Click here to visit Superbloom’s Bandcamp page to purchase Pollen, which will be released on June 1, 2021.