After a three-year album hiatus full of hiccups, this year Superfood have bounced back massively – their latest album Bambino is a quirky thing of boundless enthusiasm and subverted expectations: their October headline tour saw welcoming, delighted crowds chanting back the new lyrics, and in November they’re embarking on a UK tour with Edge favourites Wolf Alice. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Dominic Ganderton when they played at The Joiners in Southampton earlier this month, to talk the new album, the new tour, and their most embarrassing festival run-ins.
This interview has been edited for clarity
You’re touring with Wolf Alice and Sunflower Bean, when you come back to Southampton and play the Guildhall in November. Are you looking forward to that?
Yeah, really looking forward to it. I mean we haven’t really spent that much time in Southampton, so it’s going to be really good to play at one of the more established venues. We’ve played at Wedgewood rooms before… Are we close to Portsmouth?
About a 50-minute drive.
Yeah, okay I got mixed up. But that’s what I mean, we haven’t really explored Southampton that much gig-wise, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to do a bigger venue.
Have you met the gang from Wolf Alice or Sunflower Bean before?
No, I’ve met the guys from Sunflower Bean once, seemed like really nice guys, the guitarist looks a bit like Bob Dylan. But Wolf Alice, we know them pretty well, we see them pretty much every weekend, every time we go out, we’ve both been writing records and doing other things. We started touring with them like 4 years ago, and ever since then we’ve just kept a friendship with them, and it’s gone really well.
Now you and Ryan are just a two-piece, and your new style music [compared to the]previous album has all been retooled. You’ve got Sunflower Bean, who also have a separate feeling and then Wolf Alice, who are all over the shop. Can you talk a bit about how you feel, [putting together]these different styles on your tour?
I think every conversation I’ve had with Theo and them, I think no-one really wants to pigeonhole themselves. Especially when you still feel quite young in terms of our careers, I think [we like]experimenting, and just trying to work out where you want to go. Because I think it’s really hard to create something that’s really brand new nowadays. I feel like everything’s been done. Do you know what I mean? It’s like you listen to Aphex Twin, to Black Sabbath, everything’s been done. So, I don’t know, it’s [about]trying to find a good mix about what you want to use for your sound. I think you’ve got to try your best to keep it like, fresh for yourself…
I think it’s always been just what your subconscious is doing for yourself, and just kind of knowing the kind of vibe. I can kind of see what it looks like, visualise it. Not necessarily meaning that we’re going to have like great videos and great press shots, but I can visualise what it’ll end up like.
It’s just you two in the studio, does anyone else get involved in the mixing or producing side?
Yeah, I think that’s our main thing, where we can just send it to mix engineers and they can take their own spin on it. You’ve gotta rely on a mix engineer nowadays to do a lot more than they used to do, because people are recording albums in their bedrooms, and sending them to mix engineers to make them sound posh.
You said that you “see” the music, and the big artists like Lorde and Kendrick Lamar who come to mind, have this reputation for seeing music in colours: Kendrick Lamar will be in the studio like “I want this to be more purple”.
Well that was the whole concept, y’know I didn’t want to jump on that bandwagon, but that was the whole concept with our artwork. My original idea, I went to Sam, who does all the artwork for most of the bands on Dirty Hit. I said I wanted one shape for each song, that had its own colour, that all fit together to make this other shape, and that’s kind of where we got to in the end, and I think it looks really cool. But yeah, I guess you just see it, like ‘Raindance’ on the album is like a blue song; ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’ starts off it’s like pink, purple, bright stuff. I think it’s important to think about it like that, and not think you need 10/10 rock guitars on everything.
Is it fair to say that you’ve got a different organisation comparing your studio approach with your live shows?
Oh yeah totally, totally. Our studio approach is that we’ll work hours from 7pm ‘til 3am one day, and then two hours the next day from 2pm. There’s no organisation with that, it just comes and goes when it needs to be done. But when it comes to touring, I’ve always been bad. Like James Brown – I’m not comparing myself to James Brown at all, but it’s like seeing someone play something wrong in a practice, I just can’t help but cut them a horrible glance, [I have to] make sure it’s perfect. When it comes to that, it’s a lot less free-flowing, and you just want to serve the record, and get it sounding like the record through the PA speakers, so that’s the main thing. Luckily, we’ve got some fucking amazing players with Aramis (drums) and Alice (bass), and we need to get a keyboard player in soon enough. It’s gonna be great.
How do you feel about the reception to Bambino?
I love it, it’s been amazing seeing people coming out of the woodwork, and seeing people sing back the words to some of the songs we’ve already released. We always knew that this record wasn’t going to be like “Put it out, Top Ten!”. We’re not in that position. But I hope it just grows and grows, and with people sharing it, sending it to their mates. And I hope in five years’ time, people go into bargain bins in record shops, and see that fucking shape, and are like “What the fuck is this?”. But it’s all building it up for our next album, which I’ve got high hopes for. I wanna tour and tour and get some hype together for this next one.
Is that coming up quite soon, do you think you’ll be in the studio again for it [soon]?
I’m not sure. We’ve started it, we’ve started writing for it. We’ve got a song we want to get like, Macy Gray on. So, it might be Macy Gray, but it probably won’t be, it’ll probably be me and Ryan pretending to be her. And that’s like most of the records, we’ll [say]“Yeah, let’s write this song it’ll be like [so-and-so].” We watched this Paul McCartney interview once, and he [said]“If you just write a song pretending you’re someone else, like Amy Winehouse, if you pretend you’re them, then write and sing it like them, you can transform yourself into a different vibe.” But we’ve got six or seven songs, I don’t know if it’s going to be an EP or another album, but we don’t wanna leave it like two years, we wanna keep it going now. We want to tour until it’s “Okay, everyone’s done with this album, let’s put it out.” I wanna have it ready to go, and just keep going, going, going.
That’s good, I’m getting ever more excited the more I see artists who release album within a year of each other, rather than waiting two years. Every time I see a name I recognise from last year, I just go “Yes, I want to listen to that immediately!”
Yeah, it’s ’cause then you know artists are on a roll then, when you know they’re like in their zone, and it’s good.
There’s one band at the moment, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, who’ve released three this year, and another one before the year’s over.
I saw them at Field Day this year. I’ve seen them a few times, but Field Day this year, he does that Jimi Hendrix thing where he’ll be playing the guitar and singing the same vocal melody as the guitar, with just sparse stuff [*Dom mimics a KGATLW riff*]. I love that band so much.
Have you met them in person at festivals?
Nah, they’re one of those bands who just do their own thing, they’re in and out, you’ll never see them. Saying that, I thought I’d never meet Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, and then ended up one night at a party, and there was ten of us there, and he was there with his girlfriend. I was like “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” He had flip-flops on, in pure Kevin Parker mode. And I sat next to him, – and I don’t know why I said [this]to him, I blew my chance, I was really drunk – we were listening to Whitney Houston, and I was like “Y’know what you need to do? You need to write a song with no guitar pedals, that sounds like Whitney Houston man!” And he looked at me, and was just like “O-kay, cool.” He turned away, back to his girlfriend, and I was left like “Aw, sweet, I just blew that completely!”
Are there any other highlights of festival encounters recently?
Well, me and Ryan, funnily enough for the first album, went to meet Mark Ronson who was going to produce it, and that was a thing that was going to happen, but I dunno, he started to make his album [Uptown Special] so, fair enough. But we were coming out of Glastonbury a few years ago, and me and Ryan had just dropped some acid, and it was all coming up. We were backstage, [saying]“Right, we’ve gotta get out of here, because this isn’t on, this isn’t allowed.” And we walked out, and then saw Mark Ronson walking in, and he was like “Superfood!” We were like “No, what?!” We saw him and said, “Hey man, how you doing man?” but then cut that conversation as quickly as possible – “Wa-yeah it’s good to see you okay bye I’m off, Seeyalaterlovelygoodtoseeyabye!”
Was this the same Glastonbury that you ran onto Peace’s stage?
Yeah! Yeah, that was a nightmare as well.
Have you matured out of that at all?
Nah, I’d love to say that we have, but it’s just got worse. Now we just know what types of acid we like. But yeah, it’s fun. Until you get to 30, and then you’ve got to knock it on the head. That’s what it’s like, when you’re 20 you’ve gotta have fun. And trips are good, ‘cause… I dunno, some say it’s enlightening, I just think it’s fucking hilarious to be honest.
What’s your favourite track from the last album, Don’t Say That, that you’ve reworked for this tour?
What I like about that is because we wrote a lot of those songs on just guitars, me and Ryan singing, it’s like we’d stripped a few of them back. So like, ‘Right On Satellite’, just to listen to it as a song, I love it. And then the one that we don’t play, ‘It’s Good To See You’, which is like, [the one]we thought was gonna be the anthem of everyone’s life, we were so into it at the time. Talking about this little lemon, we were just on some weird vibe.
I mean, for me, because I’m so on this, trying to start anew with this music, I don’t really like looking back on it that much, at all. Hopefully in 5 or 10 years I’ll be able to look back on it and see “Aw yeah, there were some tunes in there” but I don’t even really like thinking about that album, I just want to look forward at the moment, to be honest.