What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up taking piano lessons and always enjoyed sing alongs at family gatherings led by my grandfather at the piano. He had little books of lyrics, and could play all of them. He was a brilliant pianist. I started attending concerts and following bands around age 16, but didn’t start playing professionally until in my 30’s. I worked in education and have taught Music. If I wasn’t a performing artist, I would likely teach Music or write songs for other people/programs.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I am not performing, I am creating in my home studio. I have many different keyboard instruments and they all inspire different melodies and rhythms. Outside of Music, I enjoy sweat lodges, kayaking, swimming, biking, spending time in Nature, cooking, reading.
How long has your band been around?
SuperTonic was born out of being locked down together in the Spring of 2020. David and I both play with other artists - before and after the lockdown. So, technically 2 years.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are based in Austin. I’m sure Austin has influenced our sound, but it is more informed by our whole lives of listening and loving Music from all over the world. I bring the funk from my love of New Orleans and Dave brings the rhythms of Brazil and Argentina.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
SuperTonic was an interesting choice for a band name. It has a few interpretations. It is a musical term. And it is an elixir. We see this collection of songs as a tonic/elixir to ease one’s mind in these crazy times.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
SuperTonic has only had the chance to play a handful of shows thus far due to the pandemic, but they have all been magical, because the energy that we create is contagious and wonderful. Outside of that, a few of my most memorable performances were playing with AHI at Massey Hall in Toronto, and playing the Gary Lowe Tribute show at the Danforth in Toronto with Big Sugar and a ton of special guests. Every show is memorable in its own way.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I am happy with any club/show that has a Hammond organ. That is my favorite instrument to play. I have a portable keyboard that reproduces the sound pretty well, but there is nothing like the real thing. In Austin, I have enjoyed playing the organs at C Boys, The Continental Club and Antone’s. I have yet to play Red Rocks in Colorado - someday.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Honestly, the SuperTonic live band is my dream band. Each Musician is a true talent and we are all such good friends. We all lead our own projects and come together as this. We have performed as the four piece with myself, David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin), Alan Eckert (The Deer), and Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar). Frank Deresti (Ontarians) also played on the record. It would be amazing to have a show with the five of us someday. Gordie and Frank could do a lot of instrument swapping to take the show to the next level.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Play Music for fun. Don’t get caught up in trying to be famous and the plethora of band dynamics that can bring a band down. If you are having fun and making people happy, then you have won. If you make a little money and/or make your mark, that’s a bonus.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
When I decided to go all-in as a Musician, I hustled hard - going to shows every night, meeting everyone I possibly could. I became a master at networking. I was never the most outgoing person, but I knew what I had to do in order to get where I wanted. I would have told myself to start sooner on the Music path, but I am grateful for all that I did before this period in my life.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
In regards to the SuperTonic album, I think Wide Awake is the most meaningful to me. It just holds that vibe of that moment at the start of the pandemic in such a fragile and real way. Dave’s ethereal guitar work is so moody and emotional. We both played his mother’s grand piano on the track too. Gordie’s entrance on the bass in the first verse is one of my favorite single notes on the whole album. The outro is just the two of us with guitar and accordian singing into one mic, which is how we wrote the song. That is really special to me.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Social Butterfly is a party and always fun to play. It depends on the show and the night. If you have the right listening crowd, then the quiet sensitive songs like Fly Away or Yesterday are really rewarding to play. Playing the funk is my happy place, so it’s always great to play Firewater.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
We haven’t sat down to write together since the early part of the pandemic. We both continue to write on our own and bring songs to each other when we get together to rehearse for shows. Th new reality is that we are too busy to create together with our own touring schedules, but we will get together and write more again someday.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I write about all sorts of things. But this record is all reflections and ruminations on the start of the pandemic. There are many mantras that can be derived from the lyrics, again, looking at it as a tonic for the times. “One day we may fly again’. ‘Slow down the pace’. “Mother Nature’s gonna do her thing and she don’t care’.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I don’t think any of the SuperTonic crew has ever got into a disagreement. We understand how precious this project is and have all been in so many bands with fierce disagreements. This is a safe space for all of us, which is truly amazing. Thanks for helping to point that out. In mixing the record, Dave and I made a few concessions as to how it was being mixed, but when Gordie Johnson is mixing your record, you have trust that his ideas/ears are better than yours. He did an amazing job mixing the album.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We hope to play some shows in Canada and the US. It’s just a matter of timing and locking in shows that can fit everyone’s schedule. We are in the habit of performing as a duo because that is the easiest at the moment, but hoping for some full band shows this summer. Keep checking the socials (insta: @supertonicsound. FB: @supertoniclive) to see what’s going on and our website www.supertonic.net.