New Orleans based take-no-prisoners rock and roll traditionalists, Supagroup, are in the midst of a brief tour across the southeast – including two shows in New York City — before returning home for the annual Mardi Gras festivities. Following a short break, Supagroup will head to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Music Conference, then return to New Orleans for a performance at Jazzfest. It’s just business as usual for a band that spent half of 2003 on the road with bands like Queens of The Stone Age, Supersuckers, Fu Manchu and Drive By Truckers in support of its critically lauded, self-titled fourth album.
If you believe early predictions that rock and roll will be this years’ hip-hop, then Supagroup might just do for the genre what Outkast have done for 70’s funk. On Supagroup, the quartet mix the classic blues rock of early Stones and Humble Pie with the guitar ferocity of Motorhead and AC/DC, the Supersuckers’ sly humor and the “drink-and-rock” good-time vibe of the late, lamented Unband. The result is a fairly potent elixir. “With us, you have to start with Bon Scott-era AC/DC,” explains vocalist/rhythm guitarist, Chris Lee from Supagroup’s van, somewhere in Georgia. “AC/DC is my favorite band of all time, but my second favorite band is DEVO. Freedom Of Choice was the very first record I bought with my own money. What I liked so much about DEVO was their sense of humor and really subversive view of the world, which gets a bit into what we’re doing. If I were to describe us I’d say we’re AC/DC meets DEVO.” Supagroup includes Lee’s younger brother, Benji on lead guitar, drummer Michael Brueggen and bassist Leif Swift.
The band’s mission is simple: Supagroup is here to rock you senseless. “So many people claim to be ‘Rock’,” says Lee, “but when we say ‘Rock,’ people understand we’re guys that listen to a lot of Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.” Lee also emphasizes that Rock is not a complete equation without the Roll. “The ‘Roll’ is the part where it swings,” he says. “Without the Roll, you’re a metal band that’s really stiff, or you’re a technician; you’re not feeling it.”
In 2004, Supagroup has its sights set for success across the pond, where rocking artists like The Darkness, Andrew W.K. and Jet have been embraced by the UK media and fans alike. And with Supagroup now represented by Sanctuary Management, this could be a break- through year for the band that originally formed in 1996, finding their voice with the music they love hearing as well as performing.
A video for the band’s new single, “What’s Your Problem?” is currently generating some buzz and Supagroup’s relentless touring schedule has made their song “Rock and Roll Star” something of an unofficial band anthem. “People always ask us to play “Rock & Roll Star,” he says, “which is just a song about being on the road, not getting anywhere, playing rock music when nobody likes it, and not giving a f**k. The thing is,” he continues, “despite anything I could complain about, being in a rock and roll band is awesome! When you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t matter whether you’re successful by other people’s definition. When you’re happy, that’s what matters. What makes us happy is rocking for people.”
When they’re not touring, members of Supagroup can often be found at The Saint, a New Orleans’ bar co-owned by Chris Lee with several partners, including former White Zombie bassist, Sean Yseult. “Benji, Michael and I all work there, and Leif works at Juan’s Flying Burrito a block away,” Lee laughs. “The Saturday before Mardi Gras, Benji’s working from midnight to 8 AM. Come on down, we’ll be there.”
Supagroup Tour Dates:
2/04 – Jacksonville, FL, Jack Rabbits
2/05 – Miami, FL, Churchill’s
2/06 – St. Petersburg, FL, The Emerald Bar
2/07 – Tallahassee, FL, Beta Bar
2/11 – New York, NY, Sine’
2/13 – New York, NY, Plaid
2/14 – Richmond, VA, Canal Club
2/20 – New Orleans, LA, Tulane University
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Supagroup
This article was originally written for Rolling Stone’s Online Magazine. Though Rolling Stone remains in print and online, this article is no longer a part of their archive and has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.