Veteran independent rock quartet Superchunk will unveil a two-CD rarities compilation, "Cup of Sand" Aug. 19 through its own Merge Records label. The set boasts four previously unreleased tracks, plus

Veteran independent rock quartet Superchunk will unveil a two-CD rarities compilation, "Cup of Sand" Aug. 19 through its own Merge Records label. The set boasts four previously unreleased tracks, plus covers of David Bowie's "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" and Adam & the Ants' "Beat My Guest" and long out-of-print B-sides.

"It became clear that Superchunk wasn't going to begin writing songs for the next album at least until the fall of this year, so it seemed like a good time to compile all the B-sides, comp tracks, and singles in one place," frontman Mac McCaughan tells Billboard.com. "We'd been planning it for awhile; we waited so long that it had to be a double-CD." The set marks the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based group's third rarities collection and first since 1995's "Incidental Music 1991- 1995."

"My favorites here are maybe the Bowie cover, the B-side 'The Length of Las Ramblas,' and 'Her Royal Fisticuffs,''' says McCaughan, who found the experience of mining the Superchunk vaults "weird." "Mainly I think, 'Wow, I couldn't get a better vocal take than that?'" he says. "But the older we get, the more I'm able to just sort of let stuff go and not worry about it too much. It just sort of is what it is."

McCaughan says Superchunk has sustained since its 1989 formation because "everyone has realistic expectations about what it's like to be in a band, to try to make a living being in a band, and just knowing that it's not easy and will drive you crazy sometimes. Taking long breaks between tours and records helps."

Juggling both Superchunk and Portastatic plus his duties as a partner in Merge, McCaughan comes off as pretty good multi-tasker. "I think I just compartmentalize stuff in my brain and then go to work on them all simultaneously, working my way through each project fairly methodically," he says "But while the musical projects are fairly clearly laid out in my mind, outwardly I can be pretty scattered."

On the subject of new Superchunk material, McCaughan says, "My idea for the next album is that it be more punky and stripped down, but you never know what'll happen when we get around to writing it. I haven't really written much new stuff with Superchunk in mind, though a couple of the songs on the Portastatic album 'The Summer of the Shark' began as ideas for Superchunk. That's the first time that's happened, but then when it became clear that the next Superchunk album was a ways off, I poached them from myself for Portastatic."

Currently, McCaughan is hard at work editing the band's first-ever DVD. In addition to collecting all of the band's videos, the project will also contain live footage and a documentary of the quartet's Here's to Shutting Up tour. As for the next installment of the group's limited-pressing "Clambake Series," McCaughan says, "the next one will be a straight-up live show from a few years back, and there will be more details on that soon."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print