Aiming for Big Impact
With all the intensity of the extreme weather pattern from which the band takes its name and a commercial sensibility as strong as some of the major label acts they have shared the stage with, Dallas-based Supercell hope to break out of the indie scene and into the national spotlight with the band’s upcoming debut full-length release.
In late 2003, a sensational six-song EP Generation Of The Numb showcased Supercell’s ability to pen an impressive blend of memorable and punchy modern rock songs, while recent live appearances with the likes of Evanescence, Something Corporate and Bowling For Soup have raised anticipation for a full-length set.
Budweiser has recognized this potential by signing the band (lead Singer Jason Wheelington, guitarists Shannon Nedved and Mark Sims, bassist Nick Holmes, and drummer Moonshine) to its True Music program and with news that Jarret Reddick of Bowling For Soup is rumored to be in the frame to produce the new record, Supercell’s credentials in the industry will undoubtedly be enhanced.
The band’s music will also be featured in the film West Memphis Three, due in 2005 and directed by Academy Award-winning producer Curt Johnson. So, with so much going on in the band’s schedule, I caught up with Supercell vocalist Jason Wheelington to chat about the band’s past, present and future.
You will shortly begin work on a full-length album. After the EPs you have released, are you looking forward to releasing a record truly representative of what Supercell is all about?
Absolutely! Supercell has been looking for its niche in the marketplace since its inception and I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that we have finally come into our own and found that special sound that we think listeners are clamoring for. Amidst all the “same ‘ole, same ‘ole” being pushed into major market radio, we feel like we have the opportunity to breathe new life into the industry with our sound. No, we are not a revolutionary band in our musical style, but we feel that our new brand of rock is what people are looking for these days.
Any song titles that you think will appear on the record? I’m guessing some of the tunes on the EPs will be on there. Give us some details on new songs you may have written.
Well, all titles are tentative, but some of the new songs are titled “Promises”, “This Place”, “See Level”, “The Perfect Part” and “16 Days”. Along with those will appear “Generation of the Numb” and perhaps “Shine.” We have some peeps asking us to put “Walk Away” on there as well, but we’ll see. With a full-length record we have tons of room to make everyone happy.
Is the writing process for new songs a democratic band process? How does it work?
Well, it’s democratic at some times and it feels like a dictatorship others, actually. What I mean is, it’s as democratic as any one person feels it needs to be, at any given time. Sometimes no one pipes up and a song gets written collectively with no complaints. Other times, we’ll let one person share their vision from beginning to end. And every so often someone just can’t stand to have a part change or be modified and then it can get a bit sticky. Those are the times that seem to be less than democratic. But in the end, we all just want a product that we can live with and can stand the test of time.
We can’t announce anyone just yet, but we do have two names we are very excited about.. Both are very successful in their music careers and we’d be honored to work with either one or both. Keep checking www.supercellonline.com for the announcement.
You seem to be a very commercially savvy band. You have a huge presence in the Dallas area and recently inked a deal with Budweiser for a product endorsement. How does that deal work out? Considering some of the bigger names in the Bud True Music promotion, it is some coup for an indie band like you.
I think anytime an indie band like Supercell gets recognition from something like Budweiser’s True Music program, it is definitely a great feeling. I can’t get into specifics of our contract or how the negotiation or courting process goes, but I can say we are very, very happy to have reached an agreement with a quality name brand like Budweiser. They pioneered the outreach programs to local bands that other major brands are now getting on-board with.
What is the Dallas rock scene like?
Right now, it’s in a big lull. I’d say 75% of the top bands in town broke up last year. So, that leaves us and just a few other “baby” bands to answer the call. And when you factor in that we are now experiencing some safety issues in our Music District (Deep Ellum), it doesn’t bode well for us new bands. We have a good draw, but it hard to draw new faces into a crime zone. In the last couple of years, a lot of new clubs have opened up that seem to cater to gang types. That alone is enough to kill off businesses in the area. Every night cars are getting broken into or vandalized; so it’s scaring the customers and really hurting the venues. And that, of course, rolls down to the bands too. Less customers = less pay. Less pay = hardship on bands. I really hope this turns around soon because I don’t know how long our scene can take it.
With such local attention and the quality of your songs, you must have courted attention from majors. Do you intend to put the new album out independently and then perhaps get it re-released on a major, as a band called Avion recently did?
First off, thanks for the high praise. But yeah, that’d be great. If the deal was right, it’d be cool to sell it to a label completed. I mean, who wouldn’t love to have the full attention of the majors? But will that happen? I don’t know. Too many bands wait around for the labels to sweep them off their feet in the hope of driving away into the sunset with platinum records for wheels. The reality is that you have to make records for yourself and expect that you will be the only one promoting it. So we aren’t expecting it, but we can always hope for it.
“Generation of the Numb” is a very strong song. Your band has such a commercial sound and potential it’s unbelievable. What are your influences as a band?
Again, thanks for such high praise. Our influences range from group influences like Butch Walker, Our Lady Peace, U2 and Motley Crue to individual influences like The Cult, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Nixons, Tripping Daisy…even pop artists like Madonna, Duran Duran. Bottom line is this band is influenced by great songwriting and that can be country, Top 40, Soul, Rock, you name it.
That was the most amazing show of our lives; totally packed show – kids moshing, crowd surfing and pogoing through the whole set. It was nice to have Three Days Grace playing before us and know that Evanescence was going on after. The kids were just amazing and we did our best to accommodate meeting everyone we could. Many bands split or hung out back stage. Our philosophy is that each person is someone worth taking the time to meet, sign stuff for, whatever; we love that stuff. We don’t believe we have fans; just friends that like to hear our music.
The live acoustic mp3s on your site showcases another side to the band’s sound. How come you decided to do an acoustic show?
We play acoustic every now and then to accommodate different types of venues or to even cut loose and play some covers for fun. It’s usually pretty laid back and a different environment from the shows we usually get to do.
What’s on the Supercell stereo in the tour bus right now?
If by bus, you mean van, then here ya go! Butch Walker Letters, Linkin Park Hybrid Theory, Velvet Revolver Contraband, Lost Prophets Start Something, and Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction never leaves the player.
How does it feel to be an emerging artist at a time of great change for the music industry with the advent of iTunes and a downloading culture?
We are embracing that change and will have each track on our record available online, when it comes out. The web is awesome and downloading is a great tool, if used responsibly. Personally, I believe that many bands have achieved underground success through file sharing. But just going out and downloading an entire album of great material without the intent to buy it layer at the record store is stealing. Now, would I go out and make a big deal about it like Metallica did? No. But people need to realize, not all bands are the size of Metallica. We all have rent on our homes/apartments, car notes to pay, CDs to press and some of us even families to feed. In the end, we are all just people trying to make ends meet through our job as musicians. Many times people will say “Screw the labels for charging so much! I’m not hurting anyone by ripping this CD from Kazaa.” Or “Like U2 needs MY money to survive.” In the end, it’s the little artists who suffer. Record labels will not go under from people sharing music, but bands get dropped everyday because they don’t sell enough records. It’s funny because, fans wind up hurting the artist they like because the band basically gets fired from their job, for not selling X amount of units. In the end, the band doesn’t get to put out more music that their fans want to hear. Wow, sorry for the diatribe.
You’ve shared the stage with a lot of successful rock bands. Are you determined to get to that next level with the new album?
We try to learn from each of those bands we’ve played with, for sure. But wore than determined, at this point, I’d say. We are one of those bands who refuses to take no and trudges on through this seemingly endless sea of rejection. Our goal is to sell thousands of records by ourselves, this time around. If that means a label takes note, great. If not, then we will be satisfied with promoting and supporting the record ourselves. We are in a band, that’s what we do and no perception reaching of a “new level” or not is going to deter us from moving forward with making music that we think is great and that we think people want to hear.