SUPERET: WE WANT TO LEAVE A MARK
photography by debi del grande
Taking cues from heroes like Bowie, Eno, and Byrne, Superet have the vision and the electrifying stage presence to inspire bleary-eyed, arms-outstretched devotion—much like the downtown church from which they lifted their cryptic name. Prophetic, dystopian, and dedicated to a razor-sharp aesthetic that’s more urgent New York than laid-back L.A., Superet have distinguished themselves with ease, leaving those who’ve seen the shows or streamed their music wondering who they are. Until now they’ve been shrouded in mystery, with a public bio states only that ‘Superet is a band.’ But this is the first time Matt Blitzer, Alex Fischel, Sam KS, Patrick Kelly, and Isaac Tamburino have sat for an interview, explaining where they come from, who they listen to, and why they are definitely not tweeting about Nature Valley. They begin their November residency at the Echo on Mon., Nov. 6. Their self-titled EP is out now on Rob The Rich. This interview by Madison Desler.
You’re very mysterious. There’s not a lot of info out there, but everyone who went to those DREAMCAR shows you opened is asking, ‘Who are these guys?’ ‘When is the album coming out?’ Is that a conscious choice that you made—to hold back on that stuff?
Alex Fischel (keys): No—we’d love for people to know. Obviously that’s the goal. It’s just worked out that way. We had to get things going fast because the DREAMCAR tour came up. We had to release the music we did very quickly—we don’t have the infrastructure to let people know who we are.
So let’s lift the mystery. If Superet had a Tinder profile, what would the bio say?
Sam KS (drums): Woah. That’s a great question [pause]. ‘From the future. Here for you when the world ends. Expect a phone call.’
Who in the band is the biggest diva?
Alex Fischel: Probably me or Matt.
Patrick Kelly (bass): Definitely one of those two. I would probably say Alex.
Alex Fischel: Come on.
Patrick Kelly: You don’t think so?
Isaac Tamburino (guitar/keys/percussion): You offered yourself up!
Alex Fischel: Yeah, but now it hurts hearing it.
Patrick Kelly: That’s diva in itself.
Sam KS: Alex is more of the troll. Matt is more of the diva. Matt has a vocal steam mask, and organic powders that he takes before a show.
Who’s the dad?
Wow—unanimous. Why’s that?
Alex Fischel: He’s a responsible guy.
Patrick Kelly: Yeah, he’s on it. Constantly.
Alex Fischel: We can designate a driver, but Sam will still not drink because he knows that designated driver is probably going to fuck it up.
Sam KS: That’s true. And I’m usually the person that’s like, ‘We need to leave right now,’ and everyone’s like, ‘Chill.’ We usually get there on time, but someone needs to stress.
Matt Blitzer (vox/guitar): He always manages to get the parking spot in front of the venue. Maximized efficiency is his motto.
Sam KS: I love maximized efficiency. When we’re on tour, everyone will just drop their crap in the middle of the floor when we load into the venue. I will usually immediately set my drums up on the floor in front of the stage while everyone else goes and eats or whatever, and then I’ll find them and set up my drums again on the stage. [laughs]
So Superet formed last Valentine’s Day?
Matt Blitzer: Officially, yeah. We met in college, though. We were all there for our orientation day. Alex and Sam were the first two people that I saw. Alex was wearing a leather jacket with a fur lining and a dangly crystal earring. And Sam was wearing a plaid shirt with cats embroidered onto it or something. I was like, ‘Who are these guys?’ Then a couple of weeks later they approached me like, ‘Hey. We should start playing music together. We’re gonna take you out to dinner at In-N-Out.’ Supposedly they saw that I had a Telecaster guitar and were like, ‘This guy seems like he means business.’ We went out to dinner, then I met Pat shortly afterwards.
Patrick Kelly: They were like, ‘Who’s the cool guy in the North Face with the fretless bass?’
Sam KS: A square cell-phone, also.
Matt Blitzer: And then Isaac is Sam’s cousin, and that’s how we all met.
Everyone was off doing different projects, but then you all came back together last year. Why? What made you want to refocus on this band with these people?
Matt Blitzer: It was just about time. I mean … we played music together in college and never took it seriously. After we graduated, a few years went by, and—around Valentine’s—I had a lot written and decided it was time to take things seriously. Everyone was more freed up, and we got together and put a name to the thing, and started playing shows.
And ‘Superet’ is from the side of a church?
Matt Blitzer: Just a few days before Valentine’s …
Alex Fischel: It all comes back to Valentine’s.
Matt Blitzer: I was driving right up the street at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, seeing some Beethoven symphonies. On the way was this neon church with a neon Jesus that said ‘Superet Church of Light, blah blah blah.’ We went back to take pictures, and I thought the name sounded cool. Then it wound up coming full circle when I looked up what it meant. It’s Latin: ‘May he overflow,’ ‘may he survive,’ ‘may he surmount,’ all about transcending into a new thing. That was very fitting with the rebirth of this thing we started when we were in college. Then the church also started messaging us on Facebook like, ‘You can’t use that as the name of the band.’
Sam KS: We were like, ‘It’s literally a word. You don’t own it.’
How did the tour with DREAMCAR happen? That started before you guys even released any music.
Matt Blitzer: It did. I was in a dark closet at this weird sex party in West Hollywood, and David Havoc was like, tied up. He was looking at me, and I was looking at him. It was really dark. He was whispering. ‘Do you want to tour?’ And I was like, ‘Woah, that’s Davey Havoc of AFI. Alright.’ It really wasn’t that interesting of a story at all, but … you should use that.
All the responses you’ve gotten so far, whether it’s through YouTube comments, stuff on your Instagram, it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
Sam KS: Do we have YouTube comments?!
Oh, there’s lots of YouTube comments! Everyone’s raving. ‘Saw you guys with DREAMCAR—you guys are so good!’
Sam KS: I will say, the people who came out to see DREAMCAR, and then saw us because of that … these people were so excited to be seeing live music. When we play a lot of shows in L.A., people are never outwardly enthusiastic. These are people that are so nice and come up to us after shows, and are genuinely so excited to have heard us. Passionate, really want to talk, and usually say something along the lines of, ‘I think you guys are gonna be so great. I’m so happy I got to see you at this stage.’ And they also want to buy CDs which I think is interesting because … no one ever buys music.
Alex Fischel: No one ever fucking buys music. I’ve seen people on Instagram say that they bought our two singles [‘Pay It Later’ and ‘Who Is This Guy?’] on iTunes. Which is like, what?!
Sam KS: We also were like, ‘We don’t have any music for you to buy physically, but you can stream it on Spotify or Apple Music,’ and they went, ‘Aw, bummer.’
Patrick Kelly: I think it’s cool how many people are coming from other states, too. We met people after the L.A. shows that were like, ‘Yeah, we saw you in Chicago, we saw you in wherever.’ They’ll come. They’ll come to all the shows. Something about that music … all their fans are really passionate.
Matt Blitzer: We played at the Observatory, and two nights at the Fonda. There were people at all three. Someone posted on our thing, ‘I’ve seen you guys eight times.’
Alex Fischel: That’s like, every show we’ve ever done.
So those two singles … you’ve released videos for both of them, and both of those videos are centered around screens. Is there something behind that? Is this a voyeuristic thing? A comment on technology?
Matt Blitzer: I hadn’t even really put that together, that there were so many screens. Both those videos were made very quickly, and on iPhones, and we did them ourselves.
Alex Fischel: Don’t tell anybody.
Matt Blitzer: I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room when I got an e-mail saying, ‘We have to shoot this video in the next week.’ So the idea was … ‘I’m in a waiting room, so let’s just create a space that’s sort of a waiting room for this song to live in.’ Neither of them were really supposed to be videos as much as they were supposed to be visual components that could go and be seen. That’s why they’re so static. I think we’re going to continue to keep that throughout the EP. It’s a good look to just have this slow, subtle interesting video. And it’s also way cheaper.
Sam KS: For the camera to not move.
Matt Blitzer: For the camera to not move and have something that just has a vibe. So as far as screens and being like relevant to technology, I always liked one-shot videos and one-shot scenes. It’s cool to spend time looking at different areas of what’s happening when the camera is staying still the whole time.
The first single, ‘Pay It Later’ seems to be about self-destructive tendencies—maybe darker instincts.
Matt Blitzer: Oh man, we’re talking lyrics.
Sam KS: We’re talking words.
Matt Blitzer: Any of the songs that are on this EP are exaggerated versions of very basic things that happen from day to day. Writing the lyrics to a lot of these songs was just … Any time something simple would come up that anybody would face or have a difficult time understanding … for me, it’s easy to use songwriting as a space to blow things way out of proportion. Just to shake a feeling off. That song is about vices, about confusion with yourself—about anything that’s troubling to anyone as they’re going through their twenties. Substance using or whatever. Then again, all of that is very much an exaggeration of what may or may not have been happening at the time. I wrote the song three or four years ago.
When I saw you at the Fonda, the last song of your set [‘Half Life’] … the line that stuck out was, ‘return to the original mind.’
Matt Blitzer: That whole thing is…[speaking to Alex] you’re gonna laugh at me.
Alex Fischel: No, I won’t.
Matt Blitzer: That whole thing is a play on a Jack Kerouac poem. It’s called, ‘The Last Hotel.’
[they all start laughing]
Sam KS: [directly into the mic] That’s, ‘Jack…Kerouac.’
Matt Blitzer: It’s an abbreviated version of what’s happening in that poem. ‘Half Life’ is about being split between two ways of life. That song was one of the first we started playing together. Like, ‘Wow, something cool is happening here.’ We’ve been playing that for—
Sam KS: —seven years maybe?
Matt Blitzer: A very long time. We’ve played a million different versions of it.
Isaac Tamburino: The part you’re talking about wasn’t even in there.
Matt Blitzer: That part at the end was something that didn’t really come until we started playing as Superet. The words are, ‘Return this hand to my father / Return these shoes to the shoemaker / And this mind this restless mind / Return it to the womb.’ Jack Kerouac, he was a Buddhist, he was not into materialism … I think it’s just [about] a shedding of all things material, and understanding where you came from and what you might have to say, how you may interpret the world, and things around you. But then again … you’re looking into it a lot deeper than I was.
Alex Fischel: I like that song because it feels like a statement about coming back together. It’s especially poetic because we’ve been playing it for so long, and the lyrics are what they are. It’s a return to the original mind. A return to this thing that we’ve been collectively working on, and kind of lost track of, and here we are now, presenting it.
Sam KS: All the other songs of the set are the same exact length every time we play them, and we have a very specific arrangement. That song … the end of it is different every time. There’s loose guidelines we adhere to when we play it, but whatever happens when Matt goes into the audience [and] whatever we do musically is a product of us as a group. We always do something different, which is exciting.
The question everyone’s asking—when is the album coming out?
Alex Fischel: We’re working on that. We’re figuring out when we’re going to record right now. It’s not all done. We have an EP worth of material that we’re slowly releasing. I do feel like since we recorded that stuff, we’ve shifted directions and focused the sound a little bit more. A lot of the newer stuff we haven’t recorded yet, and we have to get to it. Figure out where, and when, and with who. We’re gonna hopefully start in September, and then be done soon after that. It’s on the way.
What’s the worst way someone has described your music? Either their comparison was was off, or they mentioned someone you absolutely do not want to sound like. I have some examples if that helps.
Sam KS: Oh yeah—that would be great.
‘It was as if Jack White had penned his own version of Costello Music by The Fratellis.’
Sam KS: Yeah … that’s probably not right. That’s inaccurate. We do use guitars in our music, though. [laughs]
Isaac Tamburino: I read that, and I remember thinking, ‘The Fratellis? Really?’
‘I thought of T. Rex, Sweet, The Killers, and even Adam Ant.’
Patrick Kelly: It started really good.
Matt Blitzer: The other night, this guy was backstage at the Fonda, and he was, like, ‘Who’s comparing you to Brandon Flowers?! Who’s comparing you to Brandon Flowers?!’ That was the first thing he said, and I was like, ‘I don’t know! You? What are you talking about?!’
‘Vocals reminiscent of bands like Phoenix and Passion Pit,’ and then they compare ‘Pay It Later’ to the Strokes.
Sam KS: I don’t mind the Strokes. I don’t think that song is like the Strokes at all. But I like the Strokes.
Alex Fischel: I can never get past that band name to be honest.
Matt Blitzer: It’s disgusting.
Sam KS: Those were great! Great research! Great research.
Has anyone said anything worse?