Superhumanoids Q&A: Dream-Pop Band Talks 'Exhibitionists'
Meet the L.A. trio behind infectious single "Geri"... Next: SXSW and Local Natives tour… Debut album arrives June 11
L.A.-based dream-pop trio Superhumanoids will release a debut album, "Exhibitionists," on June 11 via Innovative Leisure. Staples of the Silver Lake scene that spawned contemporaries including Local Natives and Kisses, Superhumanoids (Cameron Parkins, Sarah Chernoff and Max St. John), balance shimmering ‘80s new wave with sharp-elbowed observations about doubt, love and longing.
"I hope our music is something that people can put on at a party, but also when they're alone and feeling introspective," says Parkins. "I think it's really important for us to hit that broad emotional pallet."
Listen to the blissful first single "Geri" below and read our interview with Parkins below. Superhumanoids head out on tour with Local Natives March 11 (they'll play multiple dates at SXSW) before teaming up with Cold War Kids in May (tour dates here). "Exhibitionists" tracklist after the interview.
When/how was Superhumanoids born?
Cameron Parkins: The three of us were playing gigs in LA with various projects before we found each other through friends who recognized we had mutual tastes. We've been playing together now for a few years and did a couple EPs, but honestly we don't feel like the band really got started until May 2011 when we began work on this album. We were coming off being on the road and had learned a lot about one another, not only as musicians but as songwriters and as people. There was a real synthesis of creative energies that happened at that point between Max, Sarah and myself.
What about playing together opened things up in that way?
I think the tour was a big influence in part because we found that some songs that we loved in the studio just hadn't translated live the way we wanted them to. So we wanted to bridge that gap. I feel blessed that we were able to take that time to figure out our sound. We experimented with a few different approaches before we got to where we are now, which I feel is a very healthy mix of electronics and live instruments.
What was your last day job?
I was a freelance graphic and web designer. I still do both of those things for the band, although Innovative Leisure has helped take some of that stuff off my plate.
Did you work with a producer on "Exhibitionists"?
No, it was self-produced. We were very meticulous about everything. We would work on songs for months and months saying "This chorus is too long," or "That chorus is too short" or "We need a bridge here." Once the creative process started, it didn't feel like there was time to go out and find someone to join in on the project. That's not to say that we wouldn't work with a producer in the future, but we took a lot of pride in bringing these songs to life ourselves.
"Geri" is such an infectious pop song, but the lyrics seem almost cold-blooded to me. How did you land at that dichotomy?
I think with all of our songs we want there to be a pretty deep range of emotion. So with a song like "Geri" that is very, very pop-y, we did kind of want to contrast that a little with maybe a bit more ferocity in the lyrics. But hopefully it's not completely cold. There's some yearning in there, I think.
What was your first favorite band?
Oh man, that's a great question. I guess it was Oasis [laughs]. I don't think you'll find much of that in our music, but yeah, when I was 10 we had an older family friend and she was really into them. I remember taking some of her tapes and making copies. I'll still sing "Don't Look Back in Anger" at karaoke from time to time.
The production during the verses of "Too Young For Love" kind of reminds me of a Ginuwine/Timbaland song.
Yeah, definitely. It's funny, a lot of our influences come via these two radio stations in LA. One is 93.5, which is basically like a ‘90s/early-aughts rap station, and then there's 92.3, which is like an '80s to '90s R&B station. We're attracted to a lot of that music and Timbaland, obviously, is incredible. That's something we listen to all the time. It was exciting for us to be able to incorporate some of those influences in our music and not be shy about it. I think in this day and age it's possible to pull from all over and synthesize things in a way that's unique and interesting.
Superhumanoids – "Exhibitionists"
1. Black Widow
4. So Strange
5. Too Young For Love
6. A Gjost
7. Free State
8. Bad Weather
9. See It All
10. Do You Feel That?