Frontman Matt Blitzer of rock group Superet joins us at Downtown L.A. container yard coffee pop-up Coffeehall Arts District to discuss the band’s debut release How to Work a Room, fun touring experiences, and how stress can fuel artistic creativity.
Superet is comprised of:
Matt Blitzer – vocals, guitar, and keyboards
Alex Fischel – keyboards
Patrick Kelly – bass
Sam KS – drums
Isaac Tamburino – guitar, percussion, and keys
So you guys recently released your debut album, How to Work a Room, wanted to say congratulations!
Matt Blitzer: Thank you!
For those who have yet to discover how awesome it is, would you like to share a little bit about the lyrical themes and instrumental elements that you guys decided to include in the album?
Matt: Oh course. So, have you ever had a dream where you were at some social event amongst your peers, and suddenly you look down and you realize that you’re naked? You know, the classic dream that everybody has?
Too many times to count. *both laugh*
Matt: Well, what if it’s more of a lucid dream where you realize that you’re dreaming, and then suddenly you go, ‘Oh, wait, I actually have control over this situation.’ I have, and they’ve been gnarly. It’s kind of an off-putting experience.
Like, ‘Is this real? Is this real life?’
Matt: *laughs* Yeah, exactly. So if you can imagine that you’re standing there naked at the cocktail party, and then you saw your peers, like, maybe a kid that bullied you in high school or someone you had a crush on or something like that, and you’re feeling embarrassed. But then you realize that you are dreaming, and that you have control of the situation, so you decide to embrace your nudity. You realize that the music playing is actually exciting, you feel the urge to dance, and then just embrace this moment of being exposed and insecure. That’s sort of what the album feels like to me. How To Work A Room is kind of an ambitious title, and it assumes that us, the band, know how to ‘work a room,’ but the truth is that we don’t. You have to sort of make adjustments depending on what space you’re in, and one of the things that we can do to connect with people in that room is to realize that we all have these same shared insecurities. We all have these same shared feelings of being vulnerable, and as soon as we can find ourselves in a place where we can all admit that that’s something that we’re all going through, then we can connect and we can dance. So the album is lyrically exploring ideas that things are cerebral, like being worried about relationships, feeling desired, or feeling isolated, things like this. But sonic-ly, it’s very dance-y and up-tempo and loud and exciting, so it’s sort of about celebrating this common thread that everybody sort of has. Yeah, that’s how I would describe it – one weird lucid dream. *laughs*
Those are the best though! I feel like a lot of movies are probably based on those types of dreams.
And which song would you say was your favorite to write and record?
Matt: Ah man, that’s a hard question. I don’t really have a favorite because I love them all equally, but I would say that probably “Comes As Relief” was one of the most exciting ones to record because that was the first push into recording the record. We were working in western New York at our producer Dave Fridmann’s studio. He’s an amazing producer who’s done stuff with The Flaming Lips and MGMT and Spoon. But yeah, after we recorded the basics for “Comes As Relief,” I remember that after Dave left the studio and we were there at night by ourselves having our celebratory drinks or whatever, we went back into the control room, turned it on, and we were blasting it. Luckily the speakers were on a fuse, or else we blew the speakers out like four times because we were just so excited. So that was definitely one of the most exciting songs to record because it was the first the one that we did.
It’s always exciting to do something for the first time! Why not celebrate it?!?
Matt: Exactly! Party mode!
It’s like a first kiss, right? Although, a lot of times first kisses aren’t that great. *laughs*
Matt: That’s true, but sometimes they can be! They can be so great that you’ll blow the speakers out. *laughs*
So if you had an unlimited budget to do a music video for any song off of the album, which song would you choose and what would your concept be?
Matt: Ah, an unlimited budget, so unheard of, wow. Well, if I have an unlimited budget, then maybe I’d like to defy the laws of physics and life and death. Or maybe it’d just literally bring a director back from the dead. Actually, on second thought, no, I wouldn’t so that. *laughs* I would call this awesome French director named Leos Carax, who made a movie called Holy Motors. It’s a super surreal, weird, far out movie that definitely feels like a lot more European. I would call him, and I would want to make, like, instead of a music video, since we have an unlimited budget, do a short film so that the album would be the score to the film. Of course, it would be called How To Work A Room, and maybe it would take place at a cocktail party in, like, outer space where people are lucid dreaming and realizing that they’re naked and dancing with each other. *laughs* Or maybe it’s a Halloween party and people are taking some weird mystery drug and turning into the things that they’re dressed up as at the party! And because they’re out in outer space they’re confused!
That sounds so trippy! I love it! Very Twilight Zone!
Matt: Yeah! Overall I would leave it up to him, but that would initially be the idea I’d want to play off of.
Yeah! We’re getting a peek into your mind! *both laugh* Speaking of, which artists and bands would you say have influenced your lyrical style, instrumental style, maybe even personal style too, and how are they different from the rest of your band?
Matt: My favorite lyricist is Leonard Cohen. I don’t think, no, I know I haven’t even come close to conjuring the sorts of things that he was able to, but he’s by far my number one favorite lyricist. As far as the sounds on the album, this one in particular, I remember thinking a lot about Talking Heads, thinking a lot about LCD Soundsystem, things like that. And then for personal style, do you remember a band from the nineties, called Pulp? They were really big in the UK.
Oh my God I do!
Matt: Yeah! So Jarvis Cocker is one of my favorite lyricists too, but they had such a cool vibe. Jarvis was famous for these big spectacle glasses, and the last time that were on tour, we stayed at my aunt’s house in Texas. My grandpa passed away a few years ago, but all of his things are still at her house and he had this pair of glasses that I had wanted since I was like a little kid. They’re actually really similar to those Jarvis glasses. But when finally I got them, I got the lenses replaced, and I was like, ‘Everybody’s gonna think I’m just trying to rip off Jarvis.’ *laughs* Luckily I can tell people it’s a family heirloom, and I definitely think about him a lot when I wear them.
It’s always good to have that kind of memento for artists to keep with them tour or performing.
Matt: Yeah. I always have my dad’s watch and my grandfather’s ascot, and then one other thing that I always keep on me when I’m performing. I have to be careful now though, because I’m really bad about keeping track of my things. My girlfriend’s always like, ‘I can’t believe you bring all this stuff on tour with you, you’re going to lose it.’ *laughs* But they’re kind of my good luck charms.
So kind of going into a bit about the music industry side, right now it’s pretty much based on streaming, which means a lot of artists are kind of tailoring to that by creating shorter releases like EPs and multiple singles as opposed to dropping a full-length album. Why do you think we are kind of leaning towards those shorter releases as opposed to, like, sitting down to enjoy a ten or thirteen song album nowadays?
Matt: Well, on the one hand, we’re seeing all these studies about how our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter by the day. Like, we’re scrolling through articles when we’re reading the news or when we’re looking at Instagram, but we’re not always taking in everything that we’re seeing. We’re grabbing little fragments of it, and I think that really affects our daily lives and how we’re communicating with each other, how we’re listening, how we’re experiencing life in general. I get why it feels like it has a negative connotation, but on the other side of it, I actually think it’s really interesting that it’s the direction that we’re moving in. It’s always kind of been this way that the medium that we used to listen to music affects the way that artists create music. There was a period of time when music was first being released where you could only fit two or three songs on like a seven inch, which was actually kind of similar to where we’re at right now. It was just a seven inch with a couple of singles on it, and that was what you would get. But once they figured out that they could make the vinyl bigger and they could fit, you know, ten or twelve songs on it, it changed the way that people were thinking about making music and they started going, ‘Ok, well, now we can make full-length albums! What about a concept album where you start listening to it and then you flip the record over and it tells this whole story?’ So it wasn’t so much based on artists wanting to tell that type of a story, but it was more that the medium gave them permission to do that. There’s definitely this weird balance between the industry changing and the artists pivoting to do something different with the medium where now we’re kind of back at that place where we started again, but it’s just way more accessible to stream music than it is to go out and find those little seven inch records with singles on them. So I don’t know. It seems like on the one hand you might think that we can’t sit down and listen to a record the way we used to. I mean, we can put twenty minutes aside and spend the morning listening to a record. But when you think about it, we kind of have this opportunity now to tell this even longer story because we can release music faster. People are recording records at home, so there can be this sort of infinite string of music just coming out. But also, putting records out takes a long time, like, taking the time to go into the studio, pull together ten to twelve songs, mixing it, mastering it, finding your distribution, all that stuff takes a very long time. But now, people are able to just sign up on Spotify, record something at home, mix and master themselves,then and put it out. People are just putting out so much music that it’s like everyday is filled with new ideas. It doesn’t seem like people are as precious with what they’re talking about though, like, it almost seems like, ‘This is the way that I’m feeling today when we’re making this track and then it’s coming out tomorrow.’ But on that note, I think it’s actually pretty cool where we’re at with music right now. And I think that people are aware of the streaming thing causing this shorter attention span thing, so I think it’s made some people more interested in going back and buying vinyl records, or wanting to spend twenty minutes to an hour listening to a band. Actually, I read something that said that vinyl sales right now are just as good, if not better, as they were when it was the normal format because people love the novelty of it.
It’s a great collector’s item, and there are so many different ways to use it in decoration form that are super cool.
Matt: Yeah! It’s great to have that artwork to be able to display.
Absolutely! And some of this cover art is amazing! Why wouldn’t you want to display it for the world to see?
Matt: Yeah. It’s kind of a bummer to have it be this little two inch thing on your phone now. Like, I think that’s exciting to be able to have that. It was such a cool experience to have the record with this cool artwork, and then be able to pull out the liner notes and the lyrics and there’s photos and stuff.
Ah, the good ol’ days. *both laugh*
So you guys have gotten to play in many venues across the country. Have you noticed any differences in regards to audience support or how shows are run in the different parts that you’ve performed in, especially in comparison to L.A.?
Matt: Yeah, definitely. It seems like in my experience so far, when we’re passing through some of these more rural cities where not as many bands are passing through as frequently as they are in a place like L.A. or New York or something like that, the audiences seem to be more present and excited about being there because it’s something that they’ve looked forward to throughout the week. Like, it could be a considerable amount of time before another band comes through to play at their local theater, so when we’re playing in places like in the middle of the country or smaller cities it’s been not what I expected. You go to a small city and you think it’s gonna be a quiet night, but people are so excited to go out and see new music. That’s definitely been something that I feel like we’ve experienced a lot. Not to say that we haven’t had great shows in L.A. and New York too, but it’s a little bit of a different thing because we’re all so used to having music all the time.
Right?!? You can literally go to a show every day. Or maybe even multiple shows a night if you have the energy. *laughs*
Matt: Oh, yeah, definitely!
And a fun question for you, if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Matt: Hmm, who would I want to go on tour with? There’s this woman named Laurie Anderson who’s kind of a visual artist and experimental musician. She had some success in the eighties and she’s one of my favorites. I think someone we’d all want to go on tour with is Billie Eilish for someone who’s big right now. I respect her and think she’s amazing, and it would be interesting to hang backstage and pick her brain about what she’s doing. So maybe her. David Byrne would also be amazing to have on tour. He did this amazing tour that was visually one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It was just like the most joyous concert I’ve ever been to, and I’m such a huge fan of his so touring with him would be a blast. I’d love to go out with him. Let’s see, who else? Maybe Beck.
I heard he puts on a good show.
Matt: He certainly does! He’s like one of the first artists that I really remember listening to as a little kid. My mom got me the Odelay record, and that was the first time that I was like, ‘I want to do this,’ you know? And I vividly remember having one of those Sony boomboxes now with the multi-spin and just dancing to that record with my mom when I was six or seven.
You got into it pretty early then! I feel like a lot of people’s musical breakthrough stories were from when they were in middle school, myself included.
Matt: Well, my mom is very savvy, and she would always be tuned into what was happening and try to expose me to whatever she thought was ‘cool.’ So thanks mom!
Yay! Go mom!
So with social media being pretty much the most prominent form of marketing right now, do you think it’s made it easier or harder for artists to make a name for themselves?
Matt: I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘making a name.’ I feel like it’s pretty easy to make a name now in the ways that we can get attention. I’m not very good at social media, and it’s funny when I hear people talking about being ‘good’ at social media because it just takes a lot of time to do, you know?
It’s like, ‘How much time do you have?’
Matt: Yeah, right? It seems like everybody thinks that there is a ‘right way’ and ‘wrong way’ to do it, which seems kind of weird to me because if there is a ‘right’ way to do it then that would mean that everybody should be expressing themselves through social media in some specific way that’s kind of going to blend everybody together. I don’t really know what that strategy even is to be honest.
The strategy changes every day. *laughs*
Matt: Yeah. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been on phone calls with, like, our publicist or our management or something like that, and they’re like, ‘You need to be posting more.’ And it’s like, ‘But we’ve been posting so much. I don’t really understand how much more we can do.’ And you know, we will go through periods where we actually are not posting very much at all. I just don’t get it.
Do any of us really get it? *laughs* Do you feel that it kind of adds on a pressure to like constantly have stuff going on to post about or even like portray yourself in a certain way?
Matt: It certainly does, and that’s one of the hardest parts for me to wrap my head around. When we’re out on the road or we’re in the studio, we have things to talk about, but the hardest part is when I have downtime, you know, it gets hard to figure out what to post. I’m not the type of person who wants to take my phone out and take a photograph of my breakfast or something like that, but I think that at the same time, for some reason, that’s what people who are looking at social media are interested in seeing. It’s just never my first impulse when I’m out in the world to start documenting everything that’s happening. I have really good friends who do that, and they do it really well and have this really hilarious personality on the internet. But yeah, I think it makes it easier in some ways and it makes it harder in other ways. It makes it easier because it does give a lot more people the opportunity to share their music with each other, which is amazing, but it does make it a little more difficult to do it for a living. It’s a bit of a confusing time, but it’s also really exciting that people are able to share so much, especially for young artists and people who are just trying to put their stuff out there, and people that are not as well known are able to get more new listeners more quickly than ever before.
Absolutely! So how do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Matt: I don’t know if I actually do. *laughs* It’s a weird thing to be doing what we’re doing because you get these moments where suddenly you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! We’re getting so much attention right now. We’re playing this concert and people are excited,’ kind of thing. It lasts for a little while, and then you’re in between tours again and wondering when you’re going to go back out on the road. I think that the thing that I’ve been working on is trying to be conscious of my mental health and general well-being during those periods. It’s so easy to get a little bit down on yourself when you’re in those in-between periods, you know, especially as a new band. We’ll get some great opportunities, and then we’ll come home and it’s slow again. When I’m back, I try to do yoga, meditation, try not to drink too much, just trying to take care of myself, you know. It’s really hard, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I’m trying, that’s for sure.
***Crooners Commentary: Matt and Heather became a spectacle during a scheduled art tour. Some may have thought we were a live-action installment.***
What advice would you give your younger self in regards to the experiences that you’ve had with music or with life?
Matt: *laughs* I don’t think I’m old enough to give any advice yet, let alone myself, I think I would tell myself to just try and calm down. When we were making this album, there were definitely points that were really stressful for me to try to get it finished, like, opinions from other people telling us that it should maybe sound more like ‘this,’ or even just some inner band stuff that was happening. But when it was all done, I realized that throughout that whole process of being really stressed out, at the end of the day the album got finished and we were really happy with it. I was really proud of it, and we got to do a great tour. I realized that all that worrying didn’t make a difference in what I was doing, so that would be the advice I’d give to myself.
It’s so hard to not go to that state of mind because it’s so easy to just worry about everything.
Matt: Yeah. And hopefully someday we can find better solutions to deal with stress.
Amen to that! And what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Matt: I think that whatever I said in the first question was pretty good as a message, but ultimately, I hope that they can take some joy away from it.
We all need a little bit of joy.
Matt: Absolutely. And if our music can provide that to someone, that’s awesome.
And to end us off, apart from riding the highs of How To Work A Room, what other big and exciting things should we be expecting from you guys in the near future?
Matt: Oh man! Well actually, we’re making new music right now. Our studio is actually right down the street from here.
Matt: Yeah! *laughs* So yeah, we’re working on new music and will hopefully get it out there soon. But you know what they say, the devil starts laughing as soon as we start making plans. *laughs* God willing we’ll tour again, we’ll put a record out again, and hopefully I’ll be able to not be as stressed as I was making this last one.
Now they have the first one under your belt, it’s smooth sailing for the second.
Matt: Well, I at least have a better idea of what to do. *laughs*
About Coffeehall Arts District:
Downtown L.A. always has new and exciting things popping up and Coffeehall Arts District is certainly a sight to see. Located at creative collaboration space The Container Yard, visitors get to adventure around the space to discover your new leafy roommate, the perfect piece of artwork for your humble abode, or the most important thing – a fresh roasted caffeinated beverage. Trendy, lighthearted instrumental hip-hop kisses the ears the minute you walk in, while Coffee Hall’s glorious coffee fragrances entice you to step right up to the awesome barista and grab a cup of happiness. Whatever you’re there come, see, and conquer, you’ll absolutely leave feeling the itch to visit again and again!