Suburban HiFi – Superimposition (Q&A)

Just before Christmas, Suburban HiFi’s Superimposition was released. Greg Addington (Hangabouts), inspired by late 1970s rock, pop, and disco, wrote 11 great, very catchy songs. He explains to SSM how the record came about.

How did this record come together?

Once Covid hit, it was pretty clear that Hangabouts wouldn’t be getting together in a meaningful way to make an LP for a while. I’m always writing songs in various styles, and there were a few that I just didn’t think would end up on a Hangabouts record. Or what I think of as the Hangabouts sound.

So I started recording, at first as demos, in my basement studio. The first thing was Potemkin Honey. It was a different song then, more Freedy Johnston than how it ended up. I think maybe the third attempt is the one on the record. I started messing around with a Sequential Multi-Trak and found a sound I liked, and everything for that song was born out of that.

About three-quarters of the record was already written before I started. The rest came about during the process. Vinyl on the Radio and In Her Reverie were definitely written in 2021. But some songs pre-date Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives (Hangabouts), and I wanted to get them out there. Here Comes the Blood is one of those, for example.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

I ask my wife for an opinion as soon as I finish something. I play it on an acoustic guitar for her, and once I track it, I play it for her. She doesn’t have to say anything. If she doesn’t move and says it was really good, I know it isn’t right yet! Once she starts moving around and the feet move, I’m probably on to something.

I always bounce stuff off of John Lowry and Chip Saam. Nearly all the songs were played for those guys before I even recorded them.

But in reality, if I really like a song, even if others don’t respond to it, I’ll do it. I think January Book may fall into that category. That one’s for Mom; rest her soul.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

Honestly, for me, writing is a daily thing. I don’t set aside time specifically, but it would be nice! Sometimes I wake up with something to get down. Or I’ll hear an idea and jot it down. The preference is to finish songs once I get started, but I don’t have the luxury to do that most of the time.

So with many ideas, I sit down with John, and we write something. Or John helps with a chord here or lyric there. All of the Hangabouts songs that are John or I get written that way. But with a couple of exceptions, the songs on Superimposition were written by me.

My preference is to write with John or Chip. It’s important for me to have a writing partner that I can trust. Putting something out there is a vulnerable experience and having mutual respect for that is vital.

Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?

I love this question because I often think that lines that resonate with an artist/writer aren’t necessarily the same ones that work for the listener. I remember an interview with Elvis Costello where he mentioned people would say how they loved the line, “I wish you luck with a capital ‘F’.”  But he liked the preceding line, “With these vulgar fractions of the treble clef.”

Personally, one of my favorite lines, for whatever reason, is in Fight on our Wedding Night. “When I see you, all will be forgotten, chiffon will turn to cotton.”  I guess I like the idea of forgiveness it alludes to. There is a formality to this big event, and it’s the event itself that is causing the friction for this couple, who just want to get on with it. In any case, the bridge hasn’t even happened except in the narrator’s mind.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?

I’d probably choose Space Between Us, Fight on our Wedding Night, and Here Comes the Blood. I think they represent the album as a whole pretty well. They’re upbeat and pretty catchy, I think. 

The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now, or is it just beginning?

I like the promotion part of releasing music. I wish I had more time to dedicate to it. I’d like to play some of these songs live, maybe with the Hangabouts. We played a version of Vinyl on the Radio a couple of months ago in the studio while rehearsing other stuff. Sounded great! Hangabouts are starting to record some new stuff again, and maybe this summer will be time to hit the stage again. I think everyone is itching to get out and do it. Additional Greek letters notwithstanding.

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