Wailing City Spotlight: Interview With Ben Parent of Superbald

Published January 24, 2024
Interview by Meghan Killimade

Superbald recently got back together after a fairly long hiatus – welcome back! Talk about the time off and what inspired you guys to start playing music together again!
First of all, thanks to Wailing City for the interest in the band! Superbald is stoked to be playing again. We hadn’t played seriously in about 10 years, but Steve Elci (Superbald singer/bass player) and I have continued to play and write together in other capacities over the years. Last summer, Steve joined Nancy Parent (of the Rivergods) and myself at an acoustic show for a few numbers, and we broke out a few Superbald tunes just for fun. And while the songs were great, we realized they needed the full electric trio to be Superbald songs! So we got in touch with Trevor (Superbald drummer), who was thankfully still interested in rocking. And things just progressed from there. 

What is the history behind Superbald – how did you all come together, who’s in the band and what other local bands might folks recognize you from?
Trevor and I go way back to an early 90s band called Radiotricity. Around that time, Steve was playing in another band called Ruler Sun. Everything was centered around the Pool Hand Lukes alternative rock scene. Steve recorded some songs for Radiotricity, and we became friends due to our mutual love of power pop music (like Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, etc.). We started a side project called Pop Quiz which did sugar-y sweet guitar pop, but Trevor was not involved in that. (Trevor did play in the Rivergods for many years.) Eventually, Pop Quiz morphed into the band that would become Superbald once Trevor was involved. It got a bit heavier and more riff-oriented, what I like to think of as “surf-y” although a serious surf enthusiast might not totally agree with that assessment. (!) 

I’m hearing a few different genres/styles in your music - pop, punk, surf… how would you best describe your music as well as your live performance to someone that isn't familiar?
Pop/punk/surf works! Lol. Again, a “purist” from any of those genres might not totally agree, but we follow the muse where it takes us. “Basement rock” works… we’re not even really straight garage rock, we kind of just play what we like. I’d say we are definitely in the line of bands that have that “New London Sound”... up-tempo, fun, guitar-based rock. Good songs played fast and loud. 

Superbald released a 10 song, self-titled album in 2005, of which folks will still hear in your current set. What song off the record is your most favorite to play… and what song gets the most crowd reaction?
That album is kind of our “10 commandments”... the bedrock of our sound. So we do most of it live still. But we have a lot of newer stuff, too. I would say the song I hear a lot of reaction to is “Just Another Stupid” which is just a crazy, two-chord screamer with a little Violent Femmes thrown in for good measure. But I think it touches a nerve! “Submarine Town” is another one that people seem to love, along with “White Men in Suits.” I think all of it is fun to play… it’s loud and fast, and fun to rock out to. 

Are there any new songs in the live set or plans to record new music in the future?
Yes, we have new material and are constantly trying out new stuff in rehearsal to see what sticks! We are actually scheduled to record with local rock producer Jason Banta in early March, and are super excited about it. We’re going to bang out a few that we’ve had in the hopper for a while, and a couple of brand new numbers, too. 

Any memorable shows you’ve played over the years?
Obviously, we are not teenagers any more, but we still rock (!) We were once put on a bill at a VFW or something in Colchester with a bunch of teenage garage bands, who were totally in awe of our “big rock” sound, particularly Trevor’s drumming. Someone came up to us afterward and was like “Are you guys from New York??” Lol. 

What are some bands/musicians you guys listen to for inspiration/motivation?
I would say we all have our different tastes, but we try to keep each other inspired. Trevor got me into the band Khruangbin last year, whom I now love. Hyper-cool, ethereal trance three-piece that wears wigs when they play live. Steve is always on top of what’s out there industry-wide, from pop to rock and everything in between. A real pop culture and music aficionado. Me, I tend to look backward (!) I’ve been on a massive Devo kick lately… kind of driving the other guys mad about it actually. (I'm currently in the market for a mini-Moog... !) I’ve also been trying to go back through some of the vast library of actual surf music, older stuff like the Ventures, to see what we can mine for our music. 

You guys are playing at The Telegraph’s ‘Rock Fix’ on January 27th – what band(s) are you most looking forward to seeing and sharing the bill with?
Excited to play with all of them, and to be playing again with Mitch Kramer and Fatal Film! The Rivergods played with A Former Friend over the summer, and they are a cool new addition to the scene. I’ve also been digging Brian Gore’s stuff online (and chatting with him about Texas music at the Dutch Tavern, where he works), so looking forward to seeing his band live. 

Any favorite band hang-outs in the area? Or local businesses/venues you want to shout out?
We have found ourselves spending more time at the Dutch again (lol)! Also, Tox Brewery seems to have become another regular spot. Great beer, great people… looking forward to when they come downtown. Kudos to Rich Martin for doing such great things with the new Telegraph location, and a shout out to my favorite local retailer, Flavours of Life

What's up next for you guys?
We are slated to play at a local amateur wrestling match in March in Pawcatuck, which should be fun. I think we will play as the wrestlers enter the ring, which will be fantastic! Hoping to get some cool video footage there, too… maybe even watch Steve or Trevor get body-slammed! ;) Steve is also getting inducted in the New England Music Hall of Fame that day, along with some other great CT acts like the Reducers and Lauren Agnelli, which is just awesome and so well-deserved… go Steve! In general, Superbald is always looking for cool and interesting shows to play… out of the ordinary gigs/experiences. We have also started giving out free haircuts at our shows, too… one style, no complaining! ;) And of course, recording… we are all looking forward to finally getting some new Superbald material out into the universe. 


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CATCH THE SHOW

Sat 1/27 @ Telegraph - 137 Bank Street, New London
'Rock Fix' 2-10pm
Superbald set 3:30pm

Sat 3/30 @ Pawcatuck VFW - 160 S. Broad Street, Pawcatuck
'Rock N Wrestling' 7pm
Tickets & More info here



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