I’m about to try eyeliner for the first time in my entire life this week. Let that sink in for a moment.
Me, a middle-aged, married, father of five, and full-time writer from in suburbia is about to apply smokey, rock star, “guy liner” in an effort to boost my stage presence this Friday, which by the way, I don’t get paid for.
Why am I doing this? Because I love music. I love listening to it, creating it, playing it, and performing it. More specifically, I love Super Cover, the “new wave, dance rock” cover band I co-founded in quarantine, and which I’ve sung in almost every week for the last year.
Because of this band, I’ve thought more about what makes a song dance or strut than I ever thought possible. I’ve agonized over setlists. I bought a sequin shirt on Amazon. I’ve invested more in musical gear than ever before. I borderline obsess over it.
Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night with the following thought: “We’ve never played a show outside before like we will next week. What are we going to do to make sure it sounds good?” I couldn’t go back to sleep until researching outdoor sound tips for two hours.
While I’ve played in a half dozen bands before, all of which were in high school and college, Super Cover is different. Here’s why:
- It’s high-energy with little grit. When people say something “rocks,” they usually mean it physically moves them. It makes them want to head bang or dance. But more often than not, rock music is also gritty, noisy, and/or heavy-sounding. This isn’t. Super Cover takes all of that energy and bundles it in a package that appeals to all-ages. We play songs that rock with little to no distortion. At the same time, we stay away from sleepy tempos. In short, we want it to move kids and grandmas as much as music fans. Based on the feedback from our first three shows, it appears we are on to something. That’s exciting to be a part of.
- It’s made up of talented musicians. Although all of us our amateurs with day jobs, we’re also some of the most committed, devoted, and skilled musicians I’ve ever played with. Our guitarist Ashton took lessons for several years, has perfect tone, and regularly practices his chops and stage presence. He’s the most gifted guitarist I’ve ever played with. Our bassist Austin not only attempts but performs some of the most complicated baselines in modern history, making him the most rocking bassists I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with. And our drummer Trevor is a working drummer in big bands, jazz bands, military bands, and now dance rock bands. Unlike most rock drummers that often play overly loud, Trevor has the best dynamics and skill of anyone I’ve played with and fits perfectly within our style. It’s an honor to play with these musicians and humbling to consider myself part of that greater whole.
- It performs some of my favorite, forgotten songs. Early last year, I heard “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol. “What other rock songs make you wanna dance like that?” Turns out, the answer is a lot. We’ve learned upwards of 30 songs now and hope to learn 50 by summer’s end. Although we play a couple of big hits, we prefer to play more obscure songs from the ’80s to today that you might not have heard in while, maybe even a decade. We like to delight and surprise audiences with stuff that cracked the top 20 charts but probably not the top 5 or 10. Sorta like that awesome Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, only with a new wave, dance rock bent. In that way, we’re just as much “live cover jockeys” as we are a band.
- It exists solely for creativity’s sake. There’s something innocently beautiful about doing something just because you’re passionate about it, with no expectation of money or fame in return. That’s why we started Super Cover, to spread joy and dance with live music. Whether among ourselves on a weekly rehearsal basis, or at one of the many free shows we have already or intend to perform in the coming months, it’s a joy to be a part of. While we’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a band for hire, we’re happy to perfect our craft and play lots of free shows for the community for now.
If part of that calls for eyeliner and shiny shirts, so be it.