On a fine August evening, I sat down to interview Dom Ganderton, the eclectic mind behind recently re-invigorated Superfood. In 2013, they put out a well received Blur-esque rock album as a four-piece guitar band, but there were hints that something a little more idiosyncratic lurked beneath their Midlands rock-friendly exterior.
Indeed, the past year has brought a slew of more exploratory singles (the latest one being the dub-influenced “Unstoppable”) in preparation for an upcoming album release. I was keen to learn what had prompted Superfood’s change in direction, and to dissect Dom’s writing process.
KG: So I suppose you must be quite busy at the moment, with the campaign for the new music?
DG: Yeah, I’ve had a few interviews today but this is the last one, I’m also in the studio at the minute. The album’s coming out in a couple of weeks, so we’re trying to do things properly, get everything scheduled for the next year, more singles coming out etc.
KG: You went through it all once before with “Don’t Say That”, is it weird getting back into the swing of the press side of things as opposed to just making music?
DG: I guess so, I think you always discover something about the band that you never knew during the interview process. It’s always good to kind of talk it out – I wish I had better rehearsed answers to questions like “How would you describe yourself”, but then again, that varies on a day to day basis!
KG: Well that makes a lot of sense, since the new music seems to represent a significant departure from what you were doing on “Don’t Say That”. Why don’t you tell us a bit about the new direction and what led you there?
DG: So yeah, I think the main thing with this album was that we wanted to get back to making the kind of music that we could listen to on our iPods etc, the kind of music that can give you something at any time – music that excited us and that was more in tune with the things that influenced us. We wanted to get away from that thing of just getting in a room and writing thrashy rock songs that sound good in a 300 capacity venue and really focus on stuff that we enjoy for ourselves.
KG: So is the writing process much more studio based now?
DG: Yeah definitely. I suppose that it all comes down to sitting down with a guitar and going through lyrics and stuff, but there’s a lot of songs that have started from listening to something cool and thinking, “Wow lets sample that”! We’ve been really exploring that avenue of writing recently. It’s been quite fun to do!
KG: But when you work like that, how does it translate live? Do you still play it with a full band?
DG: Well yeah, it’s quite difficult, but its great. We’ve been lucky and found some really great players, and our drummer really understands where we’re coming from. There are a lot more electronics, which is exciting, but also a nightmare when we play festivals – trying to get everything set up and plugged in within 30 minutes! And then you look at bands who haven’t even got any guitar pedals, just like two guitars, bass and drums, and you think “What are we doing”? But yeah, we’re hoping we can get to the stage where we can get a great crew together to take some of the set up pressure off us!
KG: Do you think that moving towards a more electronic sound was a conscious effort to progress and keep with the times? Do you see much of a future left in the thrashy rock stuff?
DG: Totally, I think this album, if anything, has allowed us to have a platform where we can go wherever we want. It’s a good kind of bridge between when we first started writing and where we are now. When we first started writing the record, we knew that we had to keep a live element to it. If we want to go back to four people in a room thrashing it out, we can, but I don’t think we will!
KG: In terms of continuity, the track on “Don’t Say That” that bears most semblance to the sound of the more recent releases was “Lily for Your Pad to Rest on”…
DG: Yeah that’s it…
KG: Was that the starting place for this new project?
DG: Yeah that was one of the last songs that we wrote for that record. Actually when we first started, we always wrote songs like that, but it just kind of snowballed – we ended up in a live band situation, in a studio, with 3 weeks to record our debut album! It just wasn’t us – we always were like the bedroom producer guys who messed around in Logic and made beats and stuff, and that kind of got lost somewhere along the way with the first album. With this album it feels like we’re taking it back to what we set out to do in the first place.
KG: Could you talk a bit about how Superfood got started? Where does the band name come from?
DG: The band name came from the song “Superfood” which was the first song that we wrote after the band properly got together following like 6 months of recording demos. It was the first name that we kind of…
KG: It’s a great name!
DG: Yeah! We’d been going out to clubs for like 6 months together, and we’d always said that we needed to get together and do something, make beats and stuff, and then we met at a party, and everything fell into place. We had an 8 hour jam, we wrote the first song, and we sent it to a guy, and within a month we were playing our first gig in London. 4 months after that we were put in front of Infectious, and they wanted to sign us. It went so quickly for us at the start – there was a lot of hype – a lot of people were looking at Birmingham because of one reason or another. We were very lucky to be in the right place at the right time I think, because people wanted to hear more of what was coming out of Birmingham at that time.
KG: That’s a very honest answer. I heard somewhere that you were involved in producing some of Swim Deep’s stuff?
DG: Yeah! That’s what I was doing before I started the band. That was originally the route I wanted to go down – but something told me that the way to really get in the industry was to go it alone in a band, and then branch out later on. I think the easiest way to get to know people, A&R people etc is by being in a band yourself. We’ve got a manager now who looks after us as producers as well, and we’re doing a lot of stuff with a lot of different people which is great.
KG: Do you apply a similar methodology and style when you produce other people’s work?
DG: Yeah totally, I mean I don’t think we want to stamp ourselves all over other people’s music, but I think the reason people come to us is because they’ve heard the stuff and they want that kind of vibe on it. You can definitely tell when it’s a production that me and Ryan have done, for sure.
KG: I find it interesting that you say that you think being in a band is an easier route into the industry – from an outside perspective it seems that standard practice is to pair vocal talents with appropriate producers and writers. Do you want to stay away from the co-writing scene then?
DG: No, absolutely not! We’ve been doing a lot of co-writing as well – with our influences, we can’t go all the way to where we wanna go, considering the music that we listen to – but co-writing is a way to do that. Like, if we find a girl with an amazing voice, then we can sit down and write an Amy Winehouse style song, which is something that we could never accomplish just by ourselves.
KG: Reckon you could give us some listening recommendations?
DG: Ahh yeah, there’s this producer I’ve been listening to for a while called MNDSGN who we love. There’s also a band called Vulfpeck who I’m into at the moment – instrumental minimal funk, with a real sense of humour. Finally I’d recommend an old band, Stereolab, they’re awesome.
KG: Cool – I’m seeing Vulfpeck in September actually! OK, last question. What can we expect from the album? What do you want it to say?
DG: I want it to just say, “Listen to this weird shit that we’ve done over the last two years, and expect more weird shit!”. Yeah just listen to it, because there’s definitely something there for you – whether you’re going on a run, or going out or just at home, there’s something there for you!
KG: Brilliant, have a lovely evening Dom, pleasure chatting and good luck!
Superfood’s sophomore album ‘Bambino’ is to be released on 8th September 2017 via Dirty Hit. Pre-Orders can be made here.
Superfood’s Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:
Sat 9th – PORTMEIRION No 6 Festival
Sat 16th – BIRMINGHAM Beyond The Tracks Festival
Wed 4th – BRISTOL Louisiana
Thu 5th – SOUTHAMPTON Joiners
Fri 6th – LONDON Garage
Sat 7th – MANCHESTER Neighbourhood Festival @ Sound Control
Mon 9th – NEWCASTLE Think Tank
Tue 10th – GLASGOW King Tuts
Wed 11th – BIRMINGHAM Mama Roux’s
Thu 12th – NOTTINGHAM Bodega
Fri 13th – LEICESTER Dryden Street Social