Superheater is a trio of twentysomethings with a penchant for face-melting music.
Max Bray (guitar/vocals), Connor Krenik (bass), and Tim Abel (drums) formed Superheater four years ago and dropped its debut full-length, Sonic Cream, in 2015. Get Decent, the fuzz/punk rockers’ second full-length, has an even more unified, cohesive sound. Whiplash-fast yet melodic and heavy with riffs galore, Get Decent is an eardrum assault.
Bray and Krenik spoke to us from the airport, where they are both baggage handlers for Delta Airlines.
City Pages: What do you think differentiates Get Decent from your previous albums?
Max Bray: A lot of these songs are in this same tuning: open A or open D. We’re trying to play with the structure of a song a lot and not have it be verse-chorus-verse-chorus.
Connor Krenik: I think it took a couple of years for us to finally narrow in and hone in on a sound. We’re in a nice brew. All of our flavors are coming together. Our inspirations have got a good psychedelic gumbo going on.
CP: To what do you attribute that?
CK: For me and Tim, it’s definitely confidence. Confidence in our playing. Before, I would just be like, “What would these bass players play?” It’d be actively trying to rip off some of my influences. Now, I think we’re finally getting our own personalities.
MB: We think a lot of these songs kick ass and we really just wanted to make some music that we want to listen to. We kind of captured a whole feeling. It’s not just like: song, next song, next song. The whole album is solid.
CK: It’s the first time I feel like, from start to finish, all these songs belong together. On the last release, it’s like, “We love your songs but there’s some stylist jumps. This is a garage rock song. This is a slow song.” This is the first time where’s it’s like, start to finish, this is one piece. This is a good long-play album.
CP: Would you say the instrumentation tends to be more important than the lyrics for you as a band?
MB: Definitely. It usually starts with the instruments and then from there I’ll sing usually gibberish during practice just to get a feel of what vowels or what consonants fit in. We’ll write the lyrics together or I’ll show the guys a rough draft of lyrics and we’ll go through them. Lyrics definitely come second and it’s definitely more of an in-the-moment type of lyric. We’re trying to capture an essence of a memory or a scene or something really particular.
CK: To be honest, I have no idea what Max is saying until we record and I hear the tracks back or I’m sitting, watching him do vocals. When we’re in the practice space or when we’re playing live, I have no idea. I’ll try to do backup vocals, but it’s mostly me yelping gibberish. I think it gets the point across.
CP: Is there a song on the new album that has a story behind it?
MB: There isn’t much storytelling. There may be a couple lines from a scene on the street or describing a scene. Like when you’re driving a car and letting your brain fly and a ton of thoughts come at a 100 miles an hour through your head. It’s more so like that.
CK: We just make noise until something comes out of it. It’s kind of like the primordial ooze and then the song’s that little fish creature with feet that comes out of it. When I’m sitting at home practicing, I listen to a lot of ghost story podcasts. I’m very into ghost stories. I don’t know if that seeps into my brain at all.
MB: I always think our music sounds good when going 65 miles an hour or faster, windows down, going West type of feel. A lot of those songs give me feelings of traveling on the road and definitely a lot of landscapes like deserts and forests. That, and where the lyrics come in, it’s more of like a backyard BBQ and hanging out on the corner. A lot of snapshots.
CK: Like those little Polaroids. I know a lot of people say like, “I want people to find their own meaning in the lyrics.” If you want to put all these words together and make a story, you can, but they’re just little snapshots. You don’t necessarily need to.
CP: Where did the album’s title come from?
CK: Was it in a dream, Max?
MB: No. “Get decent” was just a saying we started to say around the practice.
CK: Since we’re getting more confident, I feel like it’s a little self-deprecation there, like “Oh, we’re getting decent.” We’re finally arriving. I’ve been playing for three years and I’m finally starting to not have stage fright every time I go up.
MB: I had no idea that it also meant “in the nude” or “time to get correct” until somebody brought it up recently. It really doesn’t have to do with anything with that. We’re not telling anyone to put their clothes on. That’s for sure.
CP: What has been the band’s biggest challenge so far?
MB: Just getting our shit together. Getting an interview with Erica!
CK: Life always gets in the way.
MB: Trying to have a good work ethic about it. Try to keep consistent, do the emails, and order the CDs or whatever. Tim, sadly, is moving away in September, so that leaves the future unknown right now. We’ve got the release show on the 16th and another show in August, but that could be his last one with us. He’s going to be an electrician in Portland.
CP: Are you going to get a new drummer or is this the end of Superheater?
MB: We haven’t really talked about that yet. I think Connor and I would still like to play together under Superheater. It might be we have a drummer here and a drummer out West. We haven’t really talked about it yet because we have some other shows going on and stuff, but I think we’ll keep chugging along, as a train does.
CK: There’s no bad blood at all. Tim’s ready to start his life out in Portland. I love him and I wish the best for him. But, hey, we’re doing an interview, which we’ve never done before. Things are starting to buzz a little bit, so why stop now?
With: The Cult of Lip, Fiji-13, and Mr. Submissive
Where: 7th Street Entry
When: 7 p.m. Mon. July 16
Tickets: $5; more info here