I recently got a chance to talk to Laura Ballance of the legendary Superchunk. We discussed what she remembers about Superchunk’s classic albums No Pocky for Kitty and On the Mouth, both of which are being re-released today. We also discussed Superchunk’s upcoming new album, Majesty Shredding.
You are reissuing No Pocky for Kitty. The album is considered by many to be your masterwork. Do you feel it is your best album?
No, I don’t really think it’s our best album. It’s pretty raw. We toured our way to recording it, writing and practicing the songs at sound checks and during shows as we played our way to Chicago. It was recorded at CRC with Steve Albini during the pm hours to get a cheap rate. We recorded and mixed it in all of about 48 hours. But maybe the immediacy of that is what makes people like it so much.
What is your fondest memory from the recording sessions of No Pocky for Kitty?
I enjoyed Steve’s dryness very much, and also the fact that he was so very fond of Pepperidge Farms Chessmen cookies. There was also this one hilarious moment when we finished a good take of a song that we were having trouble with, and before the cymbals had even quit ringing, our drummer at the time yelled “That was easy!” thereby rendering the take worthless. It is hilarious in hindsight.
Re-listening to the album, is there anything new you have noticed about the album?
I can’t believe how many mistakes are in there that we and Steve just let slide while we recorded it. It’s punk rock!
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Probably “Skip Steps 1 and 3” because the lyrics bring back a lot of memories from the tour leading up to the album. By the way, step one is
talking about doing something, step two is doing it, and step three is talking about what you just did.
You are also reissuing On the Mouth which was considered a transitional record for you. Was the change in sound a conscious decision or just evolution?
We made a conscious decision to spend a little more time recording this album, and I think that made a big difference in how it sounded, also we had a different drummer than the previous two records, so that was bound to change something. Plus we had been together longer as a band and all knew better how to play together and compliment each other.
On the Mouth was the first album with Jon Wurster on drums. What was the difference between him and Chunk Garrison?
Chuck is a really great drummer and so is Jon. But they are great in different ways. Chuck swings, where Jon is tighter and more efficient. I also have found playing with Jon to be really different because he puts all these markers in the songs, especially when we are playing them live…and I don’t know if he does it consciously or not…but those markers tell me where we are in the song and what is coming up. It’s kind of amazing!
Later this year, you will release your first new full-length since 2001. What can fans expect from the new album?
It’s pretty old style Superchunk. One might call it “a return to form.” Our last few albums before this were stretching out in new directions a bit…moving away from our punk rock roots..and this is swinging back that way.
After the release of Majesty Shredding, what’s next for Superchunk?
Some touring to support the record, and then we shall see!