The Philadelphia group’s frontman talks to us about their upcoming sophomore album What’s So Fucking Funny?, Superheaven’s return to touring and why the term grunge dosen’t apply to the music he makes anymore.
How has life been for you since dropping the Webbed Wing demo in 2017 and the singles you’ve released this year?
I can’t really speak for life in general, because that’s always kind of all over the place. But as far as the band goes, it’s been sort of frustrating, honestly. I mean, that demo came out at the very tail end of 2017. And now, 4 entire years later, we have recorded a split, and 2 entire LPs. And in that time, we have probably barely played 10 shows, and only now does it seem like anybody is catching on that the band exists. And the pandemic didn’t help, but that fucked everybody over, so I’m not upset about that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m entitled to anything. I just feel like it’s odd to be that active, but nothing really happens. I’m not sure if people assume it’s just a fun little project or what, but I’m trying to tour and shit if we can.
In your touring career, have there been any venues that spark significant memories for you, both positive and negative?
Yes, absolutely. I won’t even try to go down the list, because it would be silly to type all of that. But some things that stick out – microphones that shock your lips, but the sound guy does nothing to try and remedy the issue. That happens all the time, and it sucks so bad. Whenever a venue doesn’t have at least a room for bands to safely keep their backpacks/laptops/etc. I can live without a green room (although that sucks too, if I’m being honest). Like cmon man, you don’t have a spot where I can put my few possessions for 3 hours, without fear of them getting stolen or something? But it’s not all bad, obviously. I love showing up to a venue and they have a good stage, or sound system. And if the sound guy isn’t a total pussy, that’s a plus too.
Who was your favourite person to interview when the Strange Nerve podcast was still active?
I’m not sure that I have a single favourite, but some of my favuorites were Alex G, Logan Pierce, my dad, Colin Young and Alec Faber (these were probably the most fun ones to do), Evange Livanos (Superheaven’s manager). But they were all cool in their own way. I miss podcasting a lot, and I’m actually working on a new one that should be out sort of soon.
What’s the one misconception people have about you and your music?
Hard to narrow it down to just one. I think from a distance, I can come off very cold, and maybe even dismissive or mean. And I absolutely can be those things if I’m caught at a bad time, or if someone puts off a vibe that I don’t like. But I like to think I am genuinely a nice and caring person. I’m just not a very social person, so many of my interactions with people that don’t know me can come off a way that I don’t intend. And sometimes, I do intend it because I just don’t want to speak to certain people. As far as the music goes, I think way too many people assume that I am constantly going for some like grunge rock shit, or trying to be like THE 90’s throwback guy. But I swear to god, that has never been my intention, and I resent the assumption to this day. I think Superheaven getting slapped with the “grunge” label hurt us more than a lot of people might assume. Which is fine. I can understand why people would call us that at first. But like, that’s all they ever called us, and I think we were more than that. And we never leaned into the grunge thing. If anything, we actively tried to get away from it. And now, when I’m writing stuff with webbed wing, that I would never consider to be “grunge-y” and people immediately call it that, it drives me fucking insane. In the end, people can call it whatever they want, and I’m gonna live my life. But when I see the word, it does bother me a little bit.
Aside from the name change, do you feel like there is much of a difference between the music you released under Daylight and Superheaven?
Nah, not really. At least nothing beyond just normal songwriting progression. I think we got better and better as a band, but the name never dictated our style or the way we operated. If anything, people’s reaction to the name change made me really resent the people that liked our band. And you can probably tell at this point that I resented a lot about being in the band at that time haha.
What thought process came behind deciding to reunite for shows next year?
Ok, so this is kind of a weird thing to me. I’ve talked about this before, but our band literally never broke up. And we never said we were breaking up. We simply said we weren’t going to tour anymore, and everyone took that as us saying “we’re done as a band.” And I can sort of understand how someone might deduce that from us not touring anymore, BUT we have played multiple shows since then. Like at least one shows a year since our last tour in 2016. So we’re not really reuniting at all. Just playing some shows. And we will certainly play more shows in the future. Not a lot, but definitely some. Unless one of us dies or just refuses to take part. I would actually love to play like 3-5 Superheaven shows a year. Any less than that kinda feels annoying to me. Mostly because I am an idiot and completely forget the songs after not playing them for a year. So every time we have to play a show, I have to relearn everything. Total pain in the ass. But the shows will be cool, and I’m excited that people seem to be excited.
How long have you and Jake Clarke been making music together?
Since 2008, I think. Since I was like 20 and he was probably like 16 or something. It’s pretty crazy, because we had some rocky times during the years that Superheaven was touring a lot, and now we are very close. We have a great dynamic because he is very bubbly and pleasant, and I am a grumpy old fuck with very little patience for anything. But I absolutely love him. He really feels like my little brother, and I cherish our friendship all of these years later.
For the most part your lyrics have been incredibly bleak and hard-hitting. Are they written from first-hand experiences of MH struggles or do you tend to write about other people?
I would say 99% of it is personal stuff about me, and my own experience. But every now and then I like to mix it up and write about someone else, or from someone else’s perspective. And that usually comes out of me feeling like I write from my own perspective too much, and then I get kind of embarrassed, like “who wants to hear what I think all the time?” But yeah, I know everyone talks about their mental health now, which I think is mostly a great thing. At the risk of sounding corny, I think expressing my mental health struggles through songs is a lot easier than just saying them out loud for me. But I do also have a great time writing about other people. Writing from other peoples’ perspectives is so fun, but kinda scary because not everyone is smart enough to understand that everything you write isn’t going to be through your own eyes, or from your own experiences. For example, there’s a song on the new webbed wing record that is from the perspective of a school shooter. I am already anticipating a lot of people taking issue with that. And I’m ok with that, because that song fucking rules and I’m proud of how it came out.
What are your future plans with Webbed Wing and the Superheaven reunion shows?
Superheaven will always be a huge question mark, and I kind of like that. There’s no pressure to do anything, and it can just be fun. I truly love the 3 other guys in the band and I hope I can play music with them in some form for the rest of my life. Even if it’s just here and there. As far as webbed wing goes, that’s my baby. That feels more like my passion, and my purest way to express myself (for lack of a better way of putting it). I would love to tour with webbed wing, and just keep writing and recording music. Even though it hasn’t exactly “taken off” the way I’d like it to, it has been very fulfilling.
What’s So Fucking Funny? is out November 5th. You can pre-order the album here.
Superheaven will play the following UK shows in June 2022:
22nd-New Cross Inn, London
24th- Outbreak Festival, Manchester