From the outside looking in, the fun, fast, frankly weird world of Colombus, Ohio’s fuzz punk one-man-band Superdestroyer oozes raw rock excitement. But beware, there’s a hidden darkness lingering.
The man behind the band, John, summarises his project as “the Modest Mouse of punk,” in terms of how their experimental approach sees the sound drastically differ from not just album to album but song to song, while a certain aspect of the music makes it uniquely theirs.
Superdestroyer initially set out with the intention of becoming a band, but his potential band members’ time demands won, which saw John pushing ahead by himself and recording an EP and it’s remained that way for now.
John’s been making music since high school, growing up taking piano lessons, taking part in theatre and going to punk shows. He’s since indulged in everything from synth pop and chillwave through to his true musical love of punk.
As he explains: “Even when I was really young I used to have to go visit my mother and she lived like two hours away, so while she drove we listened to the radio. Lots of 90’s rock and pop. It was always welcomed because the alternative was usually her yelling at my sister and I the entire ride.”
“But as I grew up I always kind of wanted to be in a band and make music. It just took me a while to finally come around and do something punky. 17-year-old me would be very happy about it.”
He released debut EP Pets last year, which has been followed by three further EP releases since. The debut EP’s three tracks are named after his hamsters, who in turn are all named after Scooby Doo characters. While most recent EP Sad Jams Winter Mix ’96 was released last month and typifies the edgy punky Superdestroyer sound.
Opening track Someone Throw Me In The Trash is a somewhat sombre introduction that offers a particularly prominent reminder of the darker side to Superdestroyer.
But the pace picks up, in the music at least, on the jaunty Taddy Mason, which starts with the interesting opening line “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna be lobotomised.” But from that beginning the rather depressing tone of the lyrics continues with the line “Maybe I just want to be lobotomised, ‘cos there’s nothing on the other side and you won’t be there either so…” followed by edgy, gruff almost shouty cries of “You gut me.” A funky fast-paced guitar riff kicks in, then more shouty vocals come in over the top, winding into the line “Your spirit is just a figment of your imagination,” followed by repeats of “We ain’t got no souls” and the closing repeated lyrics “This is all just a simulation.”
The depressing theme continues in final track Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with repeated cries of “I just can’t wait to not exist” summing up the lyrical theme. Although the musical support of fast-paced, layered guitars provides an upbeat backdrop.
John describes the Superdestroyer sound as “weird and intertextual,” and expands: “I make music that borrows from genres that are VERY different from my own and kind of partner that with the fact that I like fast music. I generally just make stuff I’d want to see live or listen to. My one rule is really that it has to be fun. I’m not worried about hooks, assimilating to a genre, or conventional song structure very much.
“It’s like if Third Eye Blind sucked, listened to a lot of Modest Mouse, and played a lot faster. I often take an approach similar to theirs in that my songs are pretty dark and sombre lyrically, but I usually juxtapose them against happy instrumentals. I feel like that’s a good representation of depression, which is why I sometimes aim for that contrast. It’s all good on the exterior but under the surface, morbid chaos ensues.”
While when it comes to lyrics, he adds: “I kind of just write about life in general. Sometimes I write about my feelings and thoughts about specific events and people, sometimes it’s more conceptual or philosophical. I try to keep it inclusive. I try to stay gender neutral and to write songs that can be read in multiple ways. Usually, my songs are about friends and family. I think isolation is a recurring theme for sure though.”
There’s plenty of music out there from Superdestroyer already, but much more to come shortly. An acoustic synth EP called I’m Sorry I Had to Leave… is being finalised along with another EP Things To Keep You Up At Night, which has more of a funk grunge influence and is currently being mixed and mastered. Work has also started on Pets II, which will take John past his goal of releasing 20 songs in his first year. Impressive.
Away from the music, he’s worth a follow on Twitter. John told us: “I would say my music isn’t overtly political, but it is influenced by my politics. However, that is not the case when it comes to my social media accounts. I use my extremely tiny platform to try to advocate for marginalized people’s rights. In my daily life, my work is centred around social justice and I think that’s incredibly important. So now you know what to expect!”