Tag Archives: Dave Marsh

Ep. #117: Charles Austin of the Super Friendz

Charles Austin lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is one of the best musicians, producers, and people that I know. Austin has played in bands and projects like Neuseiland, the Lodge, Lost Wax Guild, Aqua Alta, and Psychic Fair and has also collaborated with Buck 65 and Al Tuck among others. He first gained prominence in the mid-1990s when his band the Super Friendz became underground favourites, releasing three killer albums and touring the continent as headliners but also frequently opening for people like Sloan and Guided By Voices. Their landmark debut album, 1995’s Mock Up, Scale Down was issued on vinyl for the first time last year and, after years of inactivity, the band is playing select shows including one at the Hillside Festival in Guelph on Saturday July 26. Here, Charles and I discuss how playing a single show is pretty selective touring, the Super Friendz drummer issues and why Kieran Adams is filling in for Dave Marsh at Hillside, meeting your new bandmate two days before a big show together, Halifax and Hurricanes Arthur and Juan, abandoning your family for Mike O’Neill, the Trailside in PEI, great Halifax bands like Monomyth, Walrus, and the Scoop Outs, local venue issues, recording cool bands like Paper Beat Scissors, Nathan Doucet is a great drummer, Josh Salter is a rocking encyclopedia, the Psychic Fair band and working with the lovely, underrated Jenn Grant in Aqua Alta, reading rock books like Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock by David Todd, the best songwriter is Al Tuck, 1995 and Clive Macnutt, the vile temptress that is music, how to encourage your children’s interest in music, how your kids’ peer groups might ruin the bond you’ve forged with your kid, the Wiggles versus Ramones, American underground music in the 1980s, early Super Friendz jams, learning how to engineer and produce records, noted Nova Scotia producer Brendan Maguire, what’s up with the Super Friendz’s current status and that unfinished new album, the song “Mountaineer,” and then we’re good to go.

Related links: thesuperfriendz.tumblr.com hillsidefestival.ca vishkhanna.com

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The Super Friendz’s Mock Up, Scale Down: An Oral History (Director’s cut)

The following piece was published in truncated form on CBC Music. Here’s the full version. 

In the summer of 1995, the Super Friendz released their debut LP, Mock Up, Scale Down on Sloan’s murderecords imprint. At the time, Mock Up, Scale Down seemed like another exciting document from a prolific Halifax music scene that launched Sloan, Thrush Hermit and Joel PlaskettJaleAl Tuck,Buck 65 and more into the national consciousness. But over the years, as young bands like Zeus and the Bicycles touted its influence, the record’s status has grown further.

The three-headed songwriting democracy of Charles Austin, Matt Murphy and Drew Yamada inspired legions of fans and younger musicians with their skillfully crafted, explosive, thinking man’s pop-rock balladry. Drummer Dave Marsh, with his enigmatic, occasional membership, gave them the perfect rhythmic foundation they found so elusive in an oddly Spinal Tap-ish way (no drummers were harmed in the making of this band but they sure didn’t stick around for long).

The Super Friendz played the Halifax Pop Explosion this past October. Their last release was 2003’s Love Energy and, before last month’s show, they’d been quiet for about nine years. On Friday, Nov. 16, they play Toronto’s Lee’s Palace and, to mark the return of one of the greatest North American rock bands, an oral history of their formation and first album seemed in order. This is it, here we go. Continue reading

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