Following a string of reunion shows last year Supergroove have the itch to do it again, and this time they're getting help from some famous friends. SCOTT KARA talks to the key singers and players from The Crosstown Revue.
Don't joke with Karl Steven and Che Fu from Supergroove about being too young to be the recipients of a tribute concert. "A tribute?" scoffs Karl, slightly lost for words.
Well, offers TimeOut gingerly, surely the gig at the Civic on September 5 with Scribe, Hollie Smith and up-and-coming singer Gin Wigmore is a tribute of sorts? The Crosstown Revue, as it will be known, is a two-part show with Supergroove hits at its the core alongside a sprinkling of songs by the band's special guests.
"It's not a tribute show," Karl snaps again, with light-hearted disgust.
"Yeah, it is," smiles Scribe cheekily. He's been a big fan of the band since he was a youngster and knows the influence they have had on New Zealand music since making it big in the early 90s with songs like Can't Get Enough, and, his personal favourite, Living Inside My Head.
"Tribute?," asks Che. "Pull out the wheelchair. Get the walker. No. I was thinking of it more like a rhythm and blues revue where we're the house band and these are our friends."
"Yeah," continues Karl, "that's how I think of it too. Maybe once one of us is dead we can do a tribute. Bags first."
Whatever way you look at it, The Crosstown Revue, will be a unique show and a chance to hear Supergroove songs like you've never heard them before. As for who'll be singing what, you'll have to wait and see.
Take us back to the early 90s. Supergroove kicked-started a new confidence in local music don't you think?
Karl: I'm more of a member of Supergroove than an interpreter of the cultural history of Supergroove. So I don't know what Supergroove means to the music industry. But I know what it means to me and that's just a bunch of old pals, with good times and tough times, and stuff.
Che: I look at it more as a personal thing, too. As far as paving the way, we never really looked at that. We were kind of too into ourselves to worry about what everyone else was thinking. We were just kind of writing cool tunes and the effect we had on everyone else was just like a cool thing as well.
What about you guys? What do you think [Hollie and Scribe]?
Hollie: It's proven now that they can come back however many years later and still do the same stuff and it's a timeless kind of music that is still as true now as it was back then and that is what you strive to do as a musician. That's pretty cool, that they can still rock it.
Do you think they paved the way for New Zealand music to come up?
Scribe: I definitely think so. To me Supergroove are such an iconic New Zealand group and at the time the music they were making was the soundtrack to my teenage life. All the songs were really huge and you couldn't get away from them. They were definitely a group that we were proud to have. They weren't a hate-on-them kind of group, and the music was so hard to box down because it was such a fusion of different elements. I mean the rapping that these guys were doing, I was amazed, especially Karl's raps were so fast and he had the real fast flow, and I think Supergroove were ahead of their time. So you have to look back and think that in some ways they definitely paved the way for young artists because they did it so big and proved that you can do it.
Hollie: They were one of those New Zealand bands where people actually realised that New Zealand music was just as good as any other international acts.
So were you ever a Scorpi, orpi, orpio, Scorpio girl Hollie?
Hollie: I am a Scorpi-orpio-girl. That was my song.
At this point Karl is a little taken aback and touched by "all the nice things these guys are saying" and wants to give "a fair answer" to TimeOut's question about the impact Supergroove had.
Karl: The one thing you can say about the early 90s is that it was pretty difficult to tour New Zealand and play gigs and in terms of paving the way, the one thing we maybe did that I could see happening at the time was getting nightclubs that only had DJs, to actually have a live band playing for the first time. That felt like we were breaking a bit of new ground. We just called up the venues and asked if they wanted a band to play because the early 90s weren't really famous for that, whereas in the 80s that was a big thing.
Did you guys ever see Supergroove live?
Scribe: That's my biggest regret. I think I was about 12 when they were blowing up and I had a Supergroove T-shirt - the black one with the S-thing going around the side - I always wore. It was one of my biggest regrets that I was too young to ever get to see them play live so being asked to do the Revue was a no-brainer for me, to want to be involved. Who can say they've played with Supergroove? And so that's a nice little thing to add to the amazing things I've been able to do.
So what is the Revue style of this show about for you? It's very old school. Is it about getting music out to the people in a different way?
Che: I think so, it's exciting and something I haven't seen doneall, or in a long time, and it's just great timing. And we're in the time when it's hard to get CDs out, with CD stores closing, they're like cemeteries and all that, so I think it's kind of cool that pressure burner is now on the live show. I think this is definitely something that can go off in this country.
Karl: And mixing it up and making it entertaining. It can get a little bit like a trip to the supermarket seeing a live show where there are different brackets of 20 minutes or half an hour each, and you've got this aisle for this kind of music, and that one for this, and we want to get the ingredients and cook a whole dish. We just want to try and experiment and do something a bit bold and hopefully it will be really entertaining for people.
What: The Crosstown Revue
With: Supergroove (Che Fu, Karl Steven Nick Atkinson, Ian Jones, Joe Lonie, Ben Sciascia, and Tim Stewart) Scribe, Hollie Smith and Gin Wigmore
Where & when: The Civic, Auckland, September 5. Doors 7.30pm show starts 8pm
Tickets: On sale Monday at The Edge.