The Human Condition: A Conversation with SUPER

There is a cultural paradox dwelling in the RGV, and SUPER is here to hold the Valley's hand during its existential crisis.

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SUPER performing outdoors at Yerberia Cultura

Hailing from McAllen, SUPER is composed of Andres Sanchez, Frances Wells, and Joseph Lopez. Their first official release, Human Musik, available May 20 on local label U-¶√πk! (U-Punk), combines loud punk, soft shoegaze, and constructed electronic elements with stark, introspective lyrics to create an intimate, atmospheric, and energized sound. I spoke with Andres Sanchez, vocalist and guitarist of SUPER, to discuss the band, music, and what it’s like to be a creative in the Rio Grande Valley.

Isabella Soto: What’s behind the name SUPER?

Andres Sanchez: I like psychedelic music; I came across this band called Neu, and I’m a big fan of that group. I started listening to all of those Krautrock bands, like Can, Amon Duul, Popol Vuh, all that stuff. On one of their [Neu’s] albums they have a song called “Super,” and I really dug it. It was just such a cool song; I’d never heard anything like it. It’s an instrumental, and it was a first for me. It was an experience. It’s always stuck with me. And I like the minimal aspect of it. It’s just two syllables. “Su-per.”

IS: What are some of the bands that influence your music?

AS: I come from a more poppy songwriting style. I don’t know if it’s apparent in the music, but I really like David Bowie. I like the way he structures his music. It’s very big, very interesting. Low is one of my favorite albums. And there are a couple of aspects to the way we write and the way we think about different parts that we owe a lot to him. I had a really strong punk upbringing. I think a lot of people, they kind of have an aspect of their lives and they learn about the different structures of punk stuff and how simple it can be and how strong it can be at the same time.

IS: How does SUPER differ from other musical projects of yours?

AS: Compared to Jungle Bodies, it’s a much more mature band. Jungle Bodies was very young and fast and very impatient, and almost ignorant in a lot of ways.

There are certain things that I sing that, looking back now, I don’t really resonate with anymore, and I think that’s the case for most artists. SUPER’s a little bit more delicate, a little bit more aware of itself, maybe a little bit more vulnerable. 

And as far as the solo stuff, this is how it all culminated. When Jungle Bodies stopped playing, I just kept playing shows because I really enjoyed playing live music. I had some ideas lying around so I would just show up and play these fractions of songs that I had available and develop them over time. I think at the beginning of this year, Joseph and Frances reached out to me and they wanted to practice. So I said okay, I’ve had these songs that I’ve been playing by myself, and they helped me add some flesh to them which is really cool because they’re both very experienced and talented musicians. They offered perspectives that I wasn’t really aware of, and I probably wouldn’t have come across myself. SUPER is a much more harmonious, collaborative effort.

Your release “Human Musik” was recently put out on U-Punk. Why did you start U-Punk? What was the inspiration behind it?

U-Punk is a label/zine concept that I had that I wanted to get off the ground somehow.

I like the idea of starting a label, some sort of brand that people could be represented by from this part of the country because there’s a bunch of labels that are geographic.

They only handle stuff that’s from their geographic area, and I don’t really think there exists anything like that here. People have obviously released on their own for a long time, but there really hasn’t been a really strong label presence since Falcon Records.

How does living on the border, between two cultures, affect your creative process?

I haven’t really been able to write about living on the border, specifically or literally. I haven’t found a way for me to do that. I want to do something like that because in the past three years I’ve become more conscious of the dual identity that one has by living on the border and being a person of color, and being born in the United States with English being their strongest language, and still having roots in this other language, with Spanish being the most common here. It’s sort of a battle. You realize this: you have the experience of maybe not being too much of either side for either side, one side being your family, and the other being the society you live in. That does kind of play into the music, and being an artist in general, because I’m aware of that; I’m aware of how much of an anomaly I am.

There’s something that happened when Jungle Bodies started going up to Austin to play more often. We were reminded that we were Latinos when we went up there. Not by anybody else – no one said anything to us, they were all really nice – but we realized there were really little other Latinos in the music community up there. We knew that for the most part the scene was white, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s how it’s developed up there. It was the realization that we live in a very unique area.

The Rio Grande Valley literally is the only place that contains the same geographic makeup, cultural makeup, and cultural trends. It’s very unique, and there’s a lot of value with that.

With that realization you also kind of have to battle the negativity that exists against it. There’s a lot of folks who condemn this place, who don’t think it’s valuable, who don’t see the art that has existed here for decades. They don’t recognize the resources that are available; they don’t recognize that their own terrain, that they’ve been dissuaded out of valuing their own soil. There’s a track on the EP about this, it’s called “My Head Hit the Floor,” because it hit like a ton of bricks. Coming to terms with it. It’s kind of a love letter to this place.

In that sense, it does play a role in the music. I don’t say the words specifically in the music, but that feeling is very present.

You can follow SUPER on Facebook here and stay updated on U-Punk’s zine and releases here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m liking what I hear! And Andres and Francis in the same band? That’ll be a treat to see when I catch them live.

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