Getting inside the oft-confusing mindset of Chattanooga’s Superbody
Authenticity is overrated. Consider the modern songwriter externally compelled to draw from personal stories and experiences, conveying an unspoken false purity through the sole use of acoustic instruments. The infinite realm of music can certainly accommodate any aesthetic worldview imaginable, and to demand that everything be rooted in fact is to deny entire genres of storytelling and to suppress vivid imaginations. And pretty much anyone participating in social media has a manufactured persona, to some degree, from the subtle to the pronounced.
In line with this thinking, the Chattanooga-via-Dalton, Ga. duo Superbody lives and creates in a green-screen world with a grip on reality that’s just loose enough for the sake of entertainment and going against the grain. The past twelve months have been fruitful for the twosome, starting with the 2015 release of the full-length debut Hades Land, which was entirely written and recorded by the two.
Released digitally and on cassette, it offers twelve tracks of hook-laden new-wave goodness, exuding an odd sort of self-consciously frugal sophistication—all the charm of OMD or ABC but without the dry-cleaning budget.
Earlier this year, Superbody released the digital single “Camera,” and last month, the duo opened for Foxygen’s Diane Coffee; on July 30, the twosome will headline the Atlanta festival The BIG Thing, and there are no signs of the pair letting up any time soon.
Lead singer Robert Gregg McCurry II offers an affected passion with his baritone voice and channels the simultaneous comedy and tragedy of John Maus; his face resembles a composite of Ultravox’s Midge Ure, Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider and John Waters with frighteningly expressive eyebrows. The man behind the machines, Caleb Jackson Dills, serves as a sort of Q to McCurry’s James Bond, with sequenced electronics and a keen ear for enticing synth-pop.
Providing easily the most unusual interview this writer has conducted in recent memory, McCurry and Dills answered some questions for The Pulse via email, at times with a playful confrontation and a penchant for fiction.
“I met Caleb in April 2014 right after he had gotten off a tour filling in on bass for Lionel Richie, and we instantly hit it off,” said McCurry. “We are still very proud of ‘Wings 4 Two’ off of Hades Land, and it holds a very special place in our collective hearts because we had spent the entire day beforehand playing Putt-Putt (Mini Golf) for free off of a gift card we had found in the street outside my PeePaw’s house.”
Superbody’s music videos for “Wings 4 Two” and “Harvest” embody the ‘80s/’90s VHS-obsessed visual aesthetic frequently seen on certain shows on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and it makes perfect sense that Dills has recently become a contributor for the Everything Is Terrible! VHS-scavenging collective.
“VHS tapes are a bulky, obsolete product from a bygone era that now serve as a relic to humanity’s passage through time, and you can find some real fun and funny junk on them if you look hard enough!” said Dills.
“Look at me in the eyes. Who do you see? Who the hell do you think makes them?” said Dills, after being asked about the origin of Superbody’s video concepts. “Nevermind. It’s chill dude.”
“I’ve been considered a Kim Kardashian type figure of the Chattanooga area for quite some time now,” said McCurry, regarding floating between Dalton and Chattanooga. “So I understand my presence is felt in whatever hole inside of the Tennessee Valley I decide to lay my head.”
When asked about possible new-wave sources and inspirations, McCurry said, “The new wave is dead.”
“I don’t know. It might have never been here in the first place and I don’t even know anyone who would have been old enough to hear that stuff when it was going on. Is it even on Spotify? All I know is that my ‘new wave’ hasn’t even started yet. I think it’s gonna be kinda like my second puberty of sorts.”
When asked about the duo’s plans, McCurry said, “I want to find a [way] to be a child again.”
“Feel something substantial and exciting again. Let’s make some music, bro. Come over and we’ll jam. No we won’t. It’s all kind of confusing to me right now, but we’ll make it through this.”