Super silence – interview with Supernem
Total silence surrounds one of Hungary’s most energetic rock’n’roll bands. What are they doing? I asked Szabi Papp (lead singer, bass) and Bálint Kubányi (keyboard) about their new album and their plans for the spring season.
You don’t have any gigs in January nor February. Why?
Szabi: Fortunately the brigade’s always has been really busy. Actually, we have never stopped consciously during the career of the band. It’s not like a two-week holiday, we do have vacations. Everyone needs a day off to go camping or do something with the family. But we’ve never had a two-month break. We had to think it through financially and still thought ‘Oh my God! What’s gonna happen? We’re gonna go mad without the shows!’ But we have music. We created the circumstances for preparing a new album. Writing, rehearsing, recording. It’s good for our heads!
What is the effect of the break on you?
Szabi: Absolutely positive. We were very nervous at first about what’s gonna happen, why should we take a break at all and so on. But it had a great effect on the team spirit when we started working again. The details became crystal clear, like guitar sounds or whatever. It’s not the usual, since we arrive home at 6 AM and it takes two days to recover. After all this, going down to the studio to start the album making process… We thought it’d be better to focus our energies than leave it for one of the clubs.
How’s all the work going?
Szabi: Fucking well, thank goodness! Obviously it takes some time to get the hang of it. The conditions are amazing thanks to the Dürer Rocksuli (Dürer Rock School), it’s the rehearsal room of our dreams. We have plenty of space, insulation, heating, and even a pool table. I’m not saying we need a red carpet to practice or anything, our usual rehearsal room is like a dump and we’re fond of that atmosphere. It’s brilliant, surrounded by many other bands, we love it. It’s not like we are trashy guys but I’m not sure we could write an album in an oval office.
Bálint: The beginning of the whole thing was very important. We came to a new place to get new impressions and to boost our creativity. And it’s working. The new situation simply inspiring.
How many tracks are you planning for the new disc?
Szabi: Eight would be great; we can’t come out with seven! Seriously, the market has changed. It’s no longer true that an album has to be up to forty minutes or more. The audience had to wait for four years for Tudományos Fantasztikus Pop (Science Fiction Pop) and, of course, everyone told us that it’s only eight songs. But not too loudly, because it represents a unit. If the new album contains six or seven tracks for some reason, please don’t be upset! Don’t say that the boys are lazy. We aim to make a unified record, rather than making it longer and cramming in filler tracks we’re unsure of. I think Tudományos Fantasztikus Pop was a huge success because we built it consciously, for instance the sequence of the songs isn’t all the same, etc. We’re working in the same spirit on our new stuff.
What will be the album title?
Bálint: We don’t have one yet. It’s an ongoing topic. Sometimes an idea comes up, we discuss it, but for me it’s like a pair of jeans. You can’t buy jeans, like ‘hmm…it’ll be okay’. I only wear those that I try on and say ‘YEAH! That’s it!’ If any of us has a title that will work, we will realize it immediately. I really hope we will come up with something like this, but it may be a compromise. It’s a difficult thing, because on one hand the title determines the album, and on the other it’s a guidance for us, the way we’re heading.
Szabi: We want a short title, maybe a few-letter solution.
What influenced you the most during songwriting?
Szabi: What inspires me during songwriting is mostly our audience. When we write songs, we imagine how they would react at the shows. Luckily we saw what are they doing, how 5000-7000 people move in front of a main stage on festivals. Of course, we also want to let go and imagine how it will feel to play this part or that part of a song. One thing is certain, this album will be written with a gig in our mind. We don’t give a shit how anyone listens to the music at home lying back.
The lyrics are a more complicated question. The crowd loves to sing along to the lyrics at the concerts. The most feedback about Egy a millióból (One of a million) complimented the spiels, the wittiness. I was already thinking in vivid phrases during Tudományos Fantasztikus Pop. They are only half-sentences with a good sound to them at first, then a story comes along.
There will be interesting topics. We are recording a song right now, and the other day I came up with an idea for the lyrics and Bálint’s keyboard playing totally has the same feeling I wrote the lyrics about. It’s so awesome! It wasn’t even planned in advance. He just put that sound in and I realized I’m writing about this.
You released One of a million in January. How did the audience respond to the track and the music video?
Szabi: Good overall. I don’t really read comments because there are plenty of jerks on the internet who can really hurt others. It’s not about us, I’m open to criticism. We’ve been dealing with it for a long time. We go on stage, shouting in front of thousands of people.
In my opinion the song is working, the radios love it. The video is hot, I really like it. I especially like one of the comments that says ‘it’s a bit alternative’. When I started writing Egy a millióból the first step was listening to old Smashing Pumpkins tracks for the atmosphere.
Bálint: The song has two lives, so to speak. The first is what Szabi talked about, YouTube, radios, and how our friends pat us on the back. But we only played it live once, we had no idea what we’re doing. What I want to say is that how fans like the song is still an open-ended question. The point is how the song works during a gig.
Szabi: I’m not worrying because I find Supernem’s energy really honest. I hope the youngsters are able to feel it as well. After this everyone can decide whether they are interested in our music, or if they want to see a live show or not. There may be some listeners who will say that this vastly differs from their taste.
Bálint: One more thing that comes to mind is that we can feel that type of atmosphere when we finally announce a new song after a long time. We released this track, and I guess some people wondered ‘Yeah, it’s a good song but where are the guys we saw onstage in Orfű tearing it up?’ I like this because we have room to advance to from this point. If we released the heaviest track in the world where would we go from there? Yeah, I guess I can imagine that according to people who like Supernem this is a bit ‘too light.’ Well, they’re gonna get it!