Super Cassette blends lush, jangly pop songs with the manic, brooding energy of overdriven guitars and untethered vocals, yet their explosive moments are earned by the contrast of spacey, introspective sections throughout their music.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Max Gerlock - Guitar, vocals, production
Nick Gerlock - Guitar, vocals, keyboard
Devin Hollister - Bass, vocals
Aziz Yehia - Drums, vocals
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to (insert band/artist name here)? How long has the band been around?
Super Cassette started in 2016 as Max’s solo project, called Maximillian. After putting together a band to play the project live, the first gig was so successful it became obvious that we should transition to a full-fledged band instead of a solo effort. Also, someone on bandcamp claimed copyright over the name “Maximillian” and had our music taken down, which was probably a cosmic sign.
Nick and Max were in a couple bands in high school (one called Werebear), but hadn’t been able to commit to a full-fledged project until graduating college. Devin plays and has played in a ton of acts around the bay, most notably Pistachio and The Beloved Stranger, and he’s currently in a rad Chicano Soul band called Almas Fronterizas. Aziz just joined us this year, but plays in tons of acts around the bay including Roxy Rawson and the Rounded Sound, and Wind Weavers.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
Super Cassette comes from an old, mostly unknown Japanese video game console called the Super Cassette Vision. The name seeks to pay tribute to blind nostalgia, the inevitability of obsolescence, and the universal decay of all things, even those technologically advanced.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
So far, most songs (except for a couple) have been written mostly by Max, with crucial help from Nick, however Nick has written several, and we hope to move towards something closer to a 50/50 balance between Max songs and Nick songs.
We try to write about various topics, but there is a consistent theme of contrasting jubilant-sounding music with cynical or dark subjects. We’ve covered a lot of topics, including inevitable decay/obsolescence, addiction, abusive relationships, hypochondriasis, the anxiety of modern life, and economic inequality, but also some sunnier topics like self-acceptance and love.
Max: Nick and I are naturally pretty cynical people much of the time, so I think we’ll continue to explore dark topics with our music, but I’ve been trying to challenge myself to write more celebratory, joyful songs, so I’m hoping we’ll get some more of that in the future. The difficulty is just getting that to feel honest and not overly saccharine, but I think someday we’ll soften up a bit.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Max: I’ve really been admiring Hop Along recently for their balance between edge and pop. I also love the somber desolation mixed with absolute candy goodness of Alvvays. I also have been loving Ezra Furman, Teyana Taylor, Louis Cole, Pusha T, Vampire Weekend, and have been thinking how to incorporate elements of R&B and hip-hop into indie rock without it being corny or appropriative. I also always go back to modern classics like Radiohead, The Strokes, The Shins, etc.
Nick: Julian Lage, Dirty Projectors, Elliot Smith.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
Max: Radiohead has always been the most fundamental influence for Nick and me to start playing music together, and they actually delivered a pretty formative moment for the two of us as teenagers. We saw Radiohead in 2007 and were absolutely blown away and inspired, but funnily enough (and I hate to be negative about this), their opener wasn’t really that great. I remember talking after the show about how after that we both felt like “OK, if they can do this, we can too.'' So it was a mix of inspiration and assurance that even successful bands are just… human beings trying to make art.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
We usually just try to eat dinner and chill, maybe have a drink with each other to get on the same page. We’ll also sometimes do some vocal warm-ups if we can find a sufficiently un-embarrassing place to do them. I’ve been wanting to start incorporating some improv warm-up games to help get us present and together before we hit the stage.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
I don’t know that we’ve had a single huge event, so we’ll name a couple if that’s ok: Being featured on Bandcamp’s “New and Notable”, playing with bands we admire like Ages and Ages and No Party for Cao Dong, being featured on a Japanese podcast with a good following, hearing our song “Sober” in random bars in San Francisco, running into random people wearing our band shirt. I know some of these may seem small, but for a growing local band these moments have been so, so encouraging.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Oh man. Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Alvvays, Hop Along, Dirty Projectors, The Strokes, Kero Kero Bonito, Talking Heads, The Cure. Many others.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think that pretty much covers it!