A few years ago I was playing a show with Antibalas in Northhampton, Mass - and after soundcheck I wandered downstairs to meet the other musicians playing in the adjoining club. I do that a lot, just walk up and meet other musicians. I mean why not? Music is a blessing and the best artists know it. The band I met that afternoon was Arcade Fire, I met a whole bunch of ‘em that night - they have a large membership. We had a big band too, Antibalas, so I immediately respected them for that. It’s hard having a big band on the road - you need to be blindly in love with the music and look past the obvious hassles and drawbacks. I could tell these guys really loved music, and talked with a few of them at length about Medieval music, Montreal, and probably something like popcorn or comics, i dunno.
I stopped by later on to hear their set, and when they laid into the first note and I got chills. I felt this bizarre and not entirely comfortable sense of movement, victory, and even hope - kind of like people must have gotten from Sousa Marches a hundred years ago. They were all yelling and singing and hitting shit and I felt their art right away. For a moment I didn’t want to go back to my own gig that night! I wanted to join their circus.
After a song or two I had to go to play my show in the hall upstairs. I was blindly in love with Antibalas, my own big monster-of-a-family band, and we got down to business making the people move. Near the end of the set I saw Richard and Win (they are tall dudes) in the back of the room, just as we went into our song Indictment. I remember thinking what a pleasure it was to play for them after they had just blown my mind. They left me a poster of their band, the art from their EP (Funeral hadn’t come out yet) which they wrote a very kind message telling me the show rocked. I treasured that poster then proceeded to move like 7 times and can’t find it now, d-d-d-dang.
As the years went by I watched them grow and become the worldwide supergroup they are now, checking in here and there, usually through my old friend Colin Stetson, who works with them a bunch. In December of 2012 they reached out about having me fly up to Montreal to record on their new record, along with Colin. So, up I went to track some bouncing horns in the freezing cold.
We tracked Reflektor live, with everybody in the room banging it out. When I heard that track I felt psyched all over again, a lot like the first time - with two exceptions 1) it was funky 2) I was on the other side of the music, bouncing and moving with them.
Flash forward to 2014 - they bring me on the road for 6 months of touring through South America, Europe, Japan, USA, and of course Canada. It was an amazing experience I will always treasure and can’t lose (like the poster). My heart is full of gratitude. We played beautiful places and I got to make music with those folks every other night.
So that’s what I did on my summer vacation. Now that Fall is back I am jumping right back into things with Superhuman Happiness, with an album almost finished and singles on the way! Stay tuned, Earth travelers!
Superhuman Happiness just finished a wonderful weekend in Burlington, VT where we played two nights at the cozy and hospitable Radio Bean. This place is a testament to the role of arts in community. It’s very informal, like our shows, and is run by people that would probably be customers if they weren’t working that night. We sort improvised extensions to the sound system, with Matt Scheiner hooking up a double amp bass rig that grounded the dance party. The band played relaxed and free, with extended moments where I just closed my eyes and dug into the sound and rhythm of the unique artists in the room. I am lucky to play music with them.
You know you are in good hands when the owner and booking agent of the place are right there with you, smiling and moving, when the beat gets hot. I can’t say enough about how well Lee and Joe at Radio Bean treat Superhuman Happiness. Their enthusiasm inspires us and we can’t wait to get back to Burlington again!
These days we have been playing with Matt Scheiner, Andrea Diaz, Sam Levin, and of course the inimitable Eric Biondo. We are quickly becoming a family, what a pleasure it is to grow in friendship through music.
We had a fantastic stay that included a tour of the SoundToys offices. They have a beautiful collection of delays and all kinds of gear there. They hand out tissues for when the visiting recording geeks started to weep or drool. Fortunately for us the software they develop to model the hard ware is excellent, and for a small price a musician can access these sounds for their own creations. If you’ve heard anything done in that last 5 years - you probably have heard their software at work.
This Thursday we play Rough Trade in Williamsburg. Its a new venue with some heavy people coming through there this month - including Blondie! So I hope they leave some mojo on the walls and we can get that beat back for your ears.