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Thursday, August 21, 2014 
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Superchunk To Release Rarities Set; Teenage Girls To Swoon As A Result

Thoughtfully stroke your soul-patch and write a drunken late-night email to your ex-girlfriend, 'cos Superchunk are releasing a two-CD set of b-sides, rarities, compilation tracks, unreleased tunes and "ephemera" on August 19th. The set will be called Cup of Sand, and lead Chunker Mac McCaughan promises it will deliver the goods. Neumu's Joseph Larkin exchanged emails with McCaughan recently to get the lowdown on Cup of Sand.

Joseph Larkin: Why another rarities set? Why now?!

Mac McCaughan: It's been too long, hasn't it? The first two comps came after only two albums each, but after that we would get to the point where we had enough stuff and just go "nah, let's do another real album first," hence the double-disc nature of this one.

Larkin: I noticed a few b-sides didn't make the cut for the massive two-CD set. Why did the band choose to leave some songs off? I mean, if you're already filling up two CDs, why not go crazy and release all the b-sides that are available?

McCaughan: Well, there are a few reasons for this (btw, I'm listening to the Rolling Stones Metamorphosis as I write, reminding me that outtakes comps can be good albums!). One thing that happens is: You think you've got the album all put together, sequenced in a good way, everything included that you've intended, and then you post the track-listing on your website and are immediately reminded of the songs you have completely forgotten about but would have put on, but at this point it's too late.

Another situation is that in this age of CD-singles (as opposed to 7"'s) there are usually multiple b-sides to a given single, and while we are fairly prolific we usually don't have enough album outtakes to fill multiple CD-5s from a given album session, so we will include acoustic demos and versions of album tracks on the CD-5. Now, as a fan, I personally enjoy hearing acoustic songs or different versions of songs I like, and these demos and such are intended for the fans, who will likely be the only ones to rush out and buy a CD single when the album is on the way a month down the road anyway. So we have chosen not to include every acoustic demo that we've ever released, as it seems kind of unfair to the person who has gone out and found every single of ours to then just collect them all in one place and render all their conscientious band-support as obsolete in one fell swoop. So we've included a couple acoustic versions that we felt were the best, plus all the studio outtakes, but left those hardcore fans with some unique items still in their CD-singles collections.

But the real reason we didn't just scrape the bottom of the barrel is that we wanted Cup of Sand to be listenable as an album that you can put on and listen to start-to-finish (ok, maybe one disc at a time), so a lot of thought went into the sequencing (though it ended up working as basically, though not exactly, chronological) and song selection and making it a good record, not just "can we fit everything on here."

Larkin: Any favorites from the two discs? Any songs that made the cut that you personally dislike? Any songs missing that you feel belonged on the CDs?

McCaughan: Some of my favorites would be "The Length of Las Ramblas," the acoustic version of "1,000 Pounds" and "Never Too Young to Smoke." I think if one of us had remembered it, we might have included our cover of Devo's "Girl U Want," and while I like the acoustic version of "Kicked In" that some have requested, I don't think its omission will be too sorely missed (we may put it up as an MP3 on our site, along with others we forgot). There's nothing on here I dislike but there are definitely a couple songs from the Foolish-era where we were recording a million songs in three days or something and I think to myself, "you really should have done another vocal take on that one."

Larkin: Are there more unreleased songs "in the can" somewhere?

McCaughan: Other than demos, not really!

Larkin: Could you explain the title Cup of Sand? Is this a lyric from one of the songs that I didn't catch or is it a reference to something else? It's a drug thing, isn't it? C'mon, you can tell me...

McCaughan: A drug thing? Ask Jim Wilbur, it might have something to do with antacids or something. No, actually in our vocabulary it came to represent what you would give someone in exchange for something that was worthless, as in "do you want to buy a Superchunk beer cozy?" "Sure, I'll give you what it's worth-how about a cup of sand?"...Basically just typically un-funny band in-joke lingo (well, it's funny to us anyway!) coined by our guitar tech.

Larkin: Any new "Clambakes" to look forward to? (Last year Superchuck began a series of limited edition live official "bootleg" releases that they call "Clambakes.")

McCaughan: The next "Clambake" will be a straight-up live show (unlike the first two) and we do have lots of live recordings, but I think to release it as a Clambake it would have to be an especially good one (it's surprisingly rare that a show is both recorded and played well).

Larkin: What of the long promised DVD? What can the fans look forward to from this mysterious project?

McCaughan: Late Fall we are planning to release the Superchunk DVD, which will include all our videos plus some "bonus" material to be enumerated later!

Larkin: When can the world expect a new Superchunk CD?

McCaughan: We'll tell the world when we know ourselves! But I would hope that we could start writing songs this fall.

Larkin: Anything you wanna say about Portastatic? Have at it, matey!

McCaughan: Well, Summer of the Shark is out as of a couple months ago, and I wish we could have toured more for it, but it's gotten some good press so that's cool, I'm really happy with that record. There may be some more Portastatic in the fall, both recorded and touring.

Larkin: Any new Merge releases to look forward to? (Merge is Superchunk's label.)

McCaughan: Of course! The website (www.mergerecords.com) is obviously the best source for that, but off the top of my head I've been listening to the new Clientele album, The Violet Hour, non-stop, and the new Matt Suggs (his last album was criminally under looked) is another great leap forward for the former Butterglory man!

Larkin: What have you been listening to lately?

McCaughan: The new Fourtet record, the Decembrists, Peter Brotzmann More Nipples reissue, Manitoba, Bob Marley & the Wailers early recordings....

Larkin: Scott Weiland: Friend or foe?

McCaughan: Um, neither hopefully!

Joseph Larkin: Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

McCaughan: Only on Tuesdays, if I'm not busy. And it's raining.

Cup of Sand track list: (Disc One) "The Majestic," "Reg," "Her Royal Fisticuffs," "The Mine Has Been Returned to Its Original Owner," "A Small Definition," "Dance Lessons," "Basement Life," "Still Feed Myself," "Fader Rules," "Never Too Young to Smoke," "Detroit Has a Skyline (Acoustic)," and "Does Your Hometown Care." (Disc Two) "Beat My Guest" (Adam and the Ants cover), "With Bells On," "Clover," "Sexy Ankles," "White Noise," "Thin Air," "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" (David Bowie cover), "1,000 Pounds (Duck Kee Style)," "The Length of Las Ramblas," "Becoming a Speck," "The Hot Break" and "A Collection of Accounts."


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