In 2003, Superjoint released what would be their last album for 13 years. In the time that followed, the drugs disappeared, new projects were formed and the controversies continued. Underneath it all, though, there was a never fulfilled third album waiting to be written. After reuniting at Housecore Horror Film Festival in 2014, Superjoint has now returned with Caught Up in the Gears of Application and shown that, in spite of the years, they are still as mad as they were over a decade ago. We talked to Kevin Bond and co-founder Jimmy Bower about the new material, New Orleans and the new influence of sobriety.
It’s been thirteen years since the last album. What’s the most noticeable difference between where everything left off and now?
Jimmy Bower: Well for one thing we’re not all loaded on chemicals anymore, you know? When Superjoint broke up, well not broke up, but when we stopped doing stuff we were so fucked up. It definitely makes us a lot better not being like that. That’s just one of the aspects. I think it brings out the full potential of what we were capable of. Also, you have Blue (Joey Gonzalez, drummer) and Steve (Steven Taylor, bassist), our new members, so that’s a little different too — in a good way.
Do you think the absence of drugs has helped or changed how you make music?
Jimmy: Most definitely. When you’re loaded, you tend to accept things that aren’t right. I mean, it’d be like, “Dude, that sounded killer,” and the one dude that wasn’t loaded was like, “That sucked.” You get your sense of judgment back. Once you become clear headed, you’re more able to do anything that you do better. It’s not just music. It’s every aspect of life. Things are a lot simpler. No stress. Stuff like that.
With the time gap and the two new guys, did it feel like a new band at any point? Or did it feel like just picking up where you left off?
Jimmy: It’s funny you say that, because the two guys, Joey and Steve, they fit so well that it really does feel like we just picked up where we left off. It’s been interesting. I mean, obviously, to me, the style of songs that we were going for when we talked about writing this record and the style they really came out to be is a little different, in my opinion. But I think it’s a really good progression.
I know you’re a big Black Flag fan and I read that you listened to them a lot while writing this record, which I think ended up showing. What about their sound did you want to bring to your sound?
Jimmy: People don’t realize this, but back in the day when we were touring I was the weakest link in the band because of my drug problem. Just being able to play better and just concentrate on trying to play better has brought me up to par with everybody else in the band because, it’s like, I’m not that great of a guitar player. So when it comes to playing a lot of this faster stuff and all that it’s just been trying to concentrate on being the best player that I can be.
Down has released music kind of consistently over the years and now, with this back together, what sets them apart sound-wise in your mind?
Jimmy: To me, Down is more of the cliché New Orleans sound. The real bluesy, Southern rock kind of fuse thing. And Superjoint is more grab your fuckin’ throat, heavy, heavy stuff. Obviously faster. Philip’s vocals are a lot different. In Down he’s more sing-singing and in Superjoint it’s more, I guess, like his old Pantera voice where he would scream a lot. Both bands, to me, are night and day different.
As for tracks when you were recording, is there a certain one from the new album that you guys spent a lot more time on?
Jimmy: A couple of them I had a little trouble writing and stuff. For the most part, the writing process for this new record was pretty fast because two of the members live out of town, so we really had to utilize the time that we had when we got together. So it actually went pretty fast. It could be for that reason and also the fact that we were really excited about doing another record, as opposed to some band that’s on their fifth record and they’re like, “Oh, dude what’re we gonna do?” We had more ideas than we knew what to do with. We actually had a lot of riffs that, like in 2004 when we were gonna start to write a new record, we had a bunch of riffs that we never used.
Kevin Bond: We went back to them and made it a whole lot better.
Jimmy: That’s that insignificant voice that I was talking about.
Kevin: Yeah, you didn’t hear that.
Jimmy: You can tell we love each other, man.
Yeah, if you don’t insult the people you love…
Kevin: I voted for him for President today, that’s how much I love him.
Jimmy: Thank you, I didn’t vote for you. [laughs] Sorry about that.
“Once you become clear headed, you’re more able to do anything that you do better. It’s not just music. It’s every aspect of life. Things are a lot simpler. No stress. Stuff like that.”
No, you’re good! [laughs] Hopefully this is a different wording of a question you get asked all of the time. After the Dimebash thing, I know you guys are super excited about this record, but was there ever a time when anyone was hesitant about proceeding with this project or were you doing it no matter what?
Kevin: Doing it no matter what.
Jimmy: Yeah, you know, we’ve been excited about this record coming out. No matter what. That’s in the past. We’re finally playing our record release party on the 12th (November) in Dallas and the record comes out on the 11th. For us, that just means that we get to go on tour and start really pushing the record, which is the fun part for me.
Well, why isn’t the release in New Orleans?
Jimmy: Why wasn’t the release thing in New Orleans?
Yeah, that’s not an interview question. I was just curious.
Jimmy: Nah, it’s a good question. You’d figure it would be. The place we’re playing is a real cool club. A real nice club. The only time we played New Orleans since we got back together was with Danzig.
Kevin: We played House of Blues, too.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, we played a headlining show at House of Blues. But I’m sure we’ll be playing New Orleans soon enough.
I’m sure you will have announced a tour when this is published, but when do you think you guys are going to announce a big tour?
Jimmy: It’s pretty much definite we’re going on tour in January.
Oh, very soon!
Jimmy: Yeah, yeah, because we’re getting old.
The bands that you’re in are iconic in New Orleans. I don’t think that I’ve been to Siberia and not seen an EYEHATEGOD shirt. How has the city or the South in general influenced your sound?
Jimmy: Big time. I think a lot of the bands from New Orleans aren’t afraid to bend strings and maybe write with melody, even if it is a nasty band. There’s been a lot of great bands from New Orleans that have, to me, in my eyes, done a lot of hard work to help get that sound out. I’ve always thought Superjoint was a really unique sound amongst all the other New Orleans bands. Not saying we’re doing something that nobody isn’t…
It doesn’t really sound like you could pinpoint it to New Orleans. Like you said, it’s not cliché.
Jimmy: Yeah, it’s not like the bluesy type shit. You’ve got bands like Soilent Green and Goatwhore. I’m just talking about the bands that tour a lot, you know. There’s an incredible punk scene in New Orleans. I definitely think just being from New Orleans and seeing bands growing up, Mardi Gras… There’s groove. More groove in the music than, say, a band from Illinois would have or something. They don’t know nothin’ about making people dance. We’re very proud to be from New Orleans because it is a unique place to be from if you’re in a band. I just think you have a little bit more of an edge on the influences.
You should be! I read that there’s new Down possibly coming out soon and I know you’re still working on solo stuff, so what else is in the future?
Jimmy: Hopefully start writing some Down stuff sooner than later, just cause we still have two EPs to do. Me and Kevin are doing Clearlight again. Kevin’s in Clearlight now and, since Joey passed away, we had always talked, me and Joey, about doing double drums in Clearlight. So when Joey passed away and we got Aaron, Aaron Hill, and talking with him we’ve been kind of making that dream come true. Clearlight, we’ve got 3 or 4 new songs and, yeah, excited about getting something going with that. That’s a real fun band. A real fun live band to play live and stuff. It’s more of a jam band kind of deal.