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Friday, March 14 • 1:00am - 1:30am
Supagroup

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SUPAGROUP FIRE FOR HIRE Chris Lee (vocals, rhythm guitar) Benji Lee (lead guitar, backing vocals) Leif Robinson Swift (bass guitar) Michael Brueggen (drums, percussion) “These last couple of years have been pretty nuts for us,” recollects Supagroup singer Chris Lee, the Bon-Scott channeling frontman whose rip-and-tear vocals provide a blues-hued blaze atop his younger brother’s blistering hot guitar leads. Make no mistake, the new release “Fire For Hire” has been aptly named. But the road to rock and roll salvation isn’t without its potholes, and Supagroup have dodged their share over the past few years. “Our last record came out the last day of May, 2005, and we were on the road promoting it when Katrina hit three months later,” continues Lee. “We raced home to New Orleans, got our families, girlfriends and dogs and escaped, then we couldn’t go home for eight weeks. Benji wrote ‘Promised Land’ during that period.” In the weeks that followed, as the people of New Orleans began their slow and, according to Lee, virtually endless road to recovery, Supagroup began to reexamine just where, if anywhere, they were heading as a band. Their latest album had stalled, their homes were in need of repair, they’d lost friends, and their city looked like a war-torn shell of its vibrant self. Then the phone rang. “It was Alice Cooper, who we’d toured with the year before. He asked us if we were okay, and when he found out we were, he asked us if we wanted to go back on tour with him” recalls Lee. “The guy’s a mensch, he really helped us out when we needed it” adds brother Benji. Problem is, the band had scattered to dry land, and their gear and equipment was still in New Orleans. While the rest of the band set their sights on meeting in Florida to start the tour, Benji made his way back to their hometown, circumventing military police, local authorities and flooded streets with a fake press pass to load the band’s van with the gear from their Lower Garden District studio. "While I was loading out the gear about 10 national guardsmen rolled up with hummers and M-16's. I had to convince them I wasn't looting!" says Benji. He joined his brother Chris, bassist Leif Robinson Swift and drummer Michael Brueggen on the tour and they began writing what would be their fourth studio album, and third for LA based Foodchain Records in conjunction with Merovingian Music, Ltd. and CO5 Music, distributed by Caroline/EMI. Following the run with Alice Cooper, the band got a call from an overseas promoter who wanted to bring the band to Spain. There, without a record being promoted, the band went, livin’ la vida loca and conquering legions of new fans. When that tour ended, they were asked to join the Backyard Babies Spring tour of Europe, winning over hard rock fans of all nationalities. While in Europe they made such an impression that they were asked to perform live on TV shows and put immediately on radio. More than four months later, Supagroup went from down and out to riding high, writing songs on the road, and kicking ass around the world. “It was a really crazy and interesting time, for both good and bad, and I think a lot of that came out on the record.” The new release is as unapologetic as anything in Supagroup’s history. Shamelessly bowing before the altar of the rock and roll heroes that came before them, “Fire For Hire” explodes from a tight-fisted, rhythm-and-blues fused core. From the racing guitars and mindless release of opener “What’s Your Problem Now?” to the thunder-struck bottom end of the title track “Fire for Hire” and the pummeling fevered pitch of the closing “Roll In Smokin’,” the 12-track album offers more than its share of hard-rock indulgences. "The last record (Rules) was about being on the road and the constant party that comes with it,” says Benji, “This record is like waking up the next morning with a headache thinking, 'what did I do last night...and where are my pants?'" Things never get too heavy lyrically, but the mid-tempo blues-rock pacing of “Mourning Day” impeccably captures the vibe of a song inspired by waking up a few too many times to news of friends who had passed on. “I have a bar in New Orleans, and one of my partners died,” recalls Chris, the band’s primary lyricist, “then the storm happened and everybody I knew had someone close to them die…everybody. When you have a friend die, you don’t wake up in the morning and go, ‘Wow, I have this sense of dread…’ You go about your normal day, then you get the call, and you have no idea that the day would be like that. The song is about the abruptness of it all.” Soon after finishing the album, Supagroup was asked to appear as themselves in the upcoming movie "College", out in January, 2008 through Element Films / Lionsgate Entertainment. The band performs “Jailbait” and “Let’s Go (Get Wasted)” (from the Rules album) during the movie’s climactic party scene. “That was fun” recalls Michael Brueggen, “at any given time during the shoot, they had about thirty topless girls wandering around.” Adds Leif Swift, “Just another day at the office!” The train keeps a rollin’ with “Bow Down,” a politically-charged anthem that hangs its hat on a hard rock-driven sense of rebellion that’s been long overdue in music lately. “What we’re going through now is like the second coming of the Reagan era,” details Lee. “Think about all the art and music that happened at the end of his second term. It was a backlash. It’s not a conscious thing, though, it’s a gut thing. ‘Bow Down’ came out of that. I can’t believe that everyone’s bitching about the Republican government, Bush and the war in particular, and nobody’s doing anything about it. ‘Bow Down’ is about that disconnect: If you don’t do something, you can’t fucking bitch!” Simply put, Supagroup offer simple songs for not-so-simple times, and their goal is even simpler: to make music that they would enjoy if they weren’t musicians. “Kicking ass musically is our job and we take it very seriously. But if you listen to our lyrics, we obviously like to laugh, and try not take ourselves too seriously” says Benji. A quick wit is as important to this band as their hard rocking tunes; ‘Fire For Hire’ makes this quite apparent. Hurricane Katrina started a period of reevaluation for the band. It gave way to “Born In Exile.” Lee explains: “That came out of that period where you’re like, ‘What have I done with my life? It seems to be working, but should I be worried?’ It’s a ‘fuck it’ kind of song: ‘Yes, I’m an irresponsible, fully-grown adult man who has never held down a real job, and yet…I don’t give a shit. We’re doing exactly what we love to do. And we happen to be very good at it. It’s an affirmation for anyone who feels that way.” And for anyone who feels that rock and roll needs affirmation? “Fire For Hire” offers all the guitar-driven, whisky-soaked affirmation you could ever ask for… and more. “This record has both kinds of music,” declares Benji, “rock AND roll.” --Paul Gargano (June ’07)
http://2008.sxsw.com/music/showcases/band/62749.html

Friday March 14, 2008 1:00am - 1:30am
The Ale House 310 E 6th St (Alley Entrance)

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