Tag Archives: Superchunk

Deep Cuts from 30 Years of Merge Records

Merge

When Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance co-founded Merge Records in 1989, the music industry was in a much different place. “It was around this time when you were in a punk rock band [and] it was for you,” Ballance says. “It wasn’t for anybody else—or it was for you and your friends, and you didn’t expect to make a living doing it.”

Over the last 30 years, however, Merge became a home not just for the duo’s own band, Superchunk, but also a place where hundreds of musicians made a living—and forged a career—on their own terms.

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Big Ups: Superchunk Pick Their Favorite (Non-Merge) Bands on Bandcamp

Superchunk

Photo by Lissa Gotwals.

Perhaps more than any band of their generation, Superchunk have best exemplified DIY indie rock at its purest. From the outset, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina quartet were one of the scene’s flag-bearers, owing both to their burning, melodic anthems and their passion to build a community via Merge Records, the label founded by members Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan.

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Split Single’s Jason Narducy and the Rock n’Roll Hall of Mirrors

 

Jason Narducy. Photo by James Richards IV.

Jason Narducy. Photo by James Richards IV.

If a career in music hadn’t worked out, and you didn’t know him, you could imagine Split Single’s Jason Narducy would have one great rock story to share at hypothetical dinner parties. “I’m the reason Dave Grohl became a musician,” he might say to assorted skeptical company, like that guy you know who brags about the time his band opened for The Pixies. Thankfully, at 45 years old, Narducy is a true rock survivor, a journeyman who is built to last. The Grohl story is indeed true (we’ll get to that), but Narducy has amassed a lifetime of great tales as bassist for the Bob Mould Band, Superchunk, and Robert Pollard. Along with moonlighting with the indie A-listers, Narducy formed his passion project Split Single in 2012, along with fellow lifers Britt Daniel (Spoon) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk). Split Single’s latest, Metal Frames, sounds like a synthesis of British classic rock and straightforward power pop. Punk activist politics glimmer through, as do feelings of melancholy.

“I think growing up an only child in the ‘70s, [experiencing] a bitter divorce creates [a] chasm,” says Narducy. “Where do I belong and what should I be? Even when I’m with people I feel alone. But I’m OK. I feel good and things have worked out. I’m in a good place in my life, but loneliness does seem to follow me.” One of the heavier tracks on the album, “White Smoke,” confronts the ugly political climate Narducy views from a distance from his home in Evanston, but still causes him to burn. Of the track, Narducy says: “While it’s more a statement on humanity, it’s still very politically charged. This political climate leaves people feeling like they don’t fit in. Things are really ugly and unhealthy. Cops are shooting kids and getting acquitted. It’s a crazy time right now.”

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