The Case Against Supergroups, Even if They Feature Will Johnson and David Bazan
Will Johnson of many bands, including Overseas and, of course, Centro-Matic
Late last month, indie-loving fans of the globe, and especially here in Texas, finally received a single, but major, piece of news regarding the project that's surely to be slapped with the ubiquitous "supergroup" label.
Overseas, consisting of David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), and former Dallasites Bubba and Matthew Kadane (Bedhead and The New Year), along with Will Johnson (Centro-matic), indeed is the stuff indie-music geeks' dreams are made of. Of course, former Denton resident Johnson, now living in Austin, has recently been in the middle of more so-called supergroups than any other artist of late.
The past few years have seen Johnson record an album with the recently departed Jason Molina, drum for the Monsters of Folk and contribute arguably the best tunes to Jay Farrar and Jim James' Woody Guthrie-intensive project, New Multitudes. Let's not forget he played pivotal roles in the solo albums from the Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Drive by Trucker's Patterson Hood, as well. Oh, he also released his own stellar solo album last year, Scorpion.
Could you add just about any mid-level indie artist to a roster with Johnson and deem them super? It's not a stretch to suggest that, given Johnson's history. But the Kadanes, who, whether they like it or not, helped bring slowcore to the world with the remarkable catalog of Bedhead, and Bazan, who has turned into an even greater indie icon since leaving Pedro the Lion and releasing a pair of albums, are much more than random backups or jamming buddies.
On paper, "super" seems to fit, but so often, just as it is in Major League Baseball, the best outfit on paper doesn't end up holding the trophy after it's all said and done. The New York Yankees have spent more than two billion dollars putting a team onto the field in the past decade. For that, the heftiest sum in baseball history, the pinstripes have walked away with only one trophy.
When it comes to the so-called supergroups in music, specifically, how often does the allegedly "super" project turn out to be super enough for anyone to forget the main gigs of any of the talented members?