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December 2020 / January 2021

Superfood: Unstoppable

Superfood are back, but they’re not the same band they were on their debut. Signed to Dirty Hit, their second album ‘Bambino’ is ready to cause a stir.
Published: 8:58 am, September 07, 2017
Superfood: Unstoppable
“There was a time when we were recording, and we had a moment where we just didn’t know if we were going to finish it,” recalls Superfood frontman Dom Ganderton. “We were standing on our balcony listening to Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, and because we were such a mess at that moment, we just listened to the whole song in silence. Just a minute ago, we were chatting about that - and how it feels so good to see an actual tracklisting together up and people can actually pre-order the thing.”

‘Ol Blue Eyes himself sums up the spirit of Superfood far better than any motion picture could. There was doubt, they ate it up and spit it out, and now they have one of the most stunning reinventions of the past few years written under their own banner. The story of Superfood’s road to ‘Bambino’ is one paved with detours, late-nights in North London and an unfiltered dive into the unknown - a record that could very easily have ended up in the trash files on their computers and remained a mystery to the world. At its heart above all else, is the relationship between Dom and partner-in-crime Ryan Malcolm, a connection that radiates from the pair from the moment they start chatting. It’s more than simply music; it’s a bond that serves as the lifeblood of what Superfood is and the endless potential of what they can be.

Harking back to all-nighters and ‘dirty warehouse raves in Birmingham’, Dom and Ryan can remember those early days like the back of their hands. “You know he was a professional football player before?!” bursts Dom, turning to Ryan. “I just find that so mad that you had this whole life of training, being the sports guy and then it was like you heard The Strokes and went *click*.”

“I mean, semi-pro,” points out Ryan. “I remember listening to The Strokes and thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is sick’.”

“The leather jacket came on straight away,” laughs Dom. “But yeah, when we were living in Birmingham there were like 50 kids all going out to the same two bars every weekend, and everyone was in bands, and everyone was doing stuff. Me and Ryan would see each other, and every time at like two in the morning we’d be saying, ‘Mate, we need to get together man and do this!’ And that just went on for months. Then one night, I went back to his flat after a night out and just started jamming, and no exaggeration we jammed for like eight hours - until like 2pm the next day.”

“Everyone in my flat would be poking their heads in to see if we were alright,” jumps in Ryan, “but we were still playing away.”

[caption id="attachment_23938" align="aligncenter" width="1500
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / Dork[/caption]
"pull" text="Stick to what you’re doing and be weird, be yourself.

They both erupt into laughter, and it’s in that emotion that Superfood in 2017 find themselves. Two best mates enjoying the music and good times, clinking glasses and running through memories at the drop of a dime with an album they’ve been itching to make from the moment they met. Throwing away the shackles of restraint that coated itself around their self-titled debut album, it’s a marked difference in style and attitude that sees the pair finally making the music they’ve always wanted to make, a natural opening to a world of unabashed freedom and genre-blending euphoria that hits from the very first taste. It’s a new beginning, one that sits as a debut album in its own right in all but name.

“Musically, we just naturally did what we wanted and weren’t being held down,” details Dom, “but in our own heads we were battling with that thought of, ‘Have we lost the plot here?’ Because when we’d show it to people right at the start, some didn’t know how to take it in. From now on with us two, we’ve proven that we can do something different and kinda broken out of that mould around us. Now it’s like, right, if you stick to what you’re doing and be weird and be yourself it just comes across as so much better.”

“That’s something I’m really happy about as well,” continues Ryan, “It’s all so natural, nothing is forced or pushed in there, and I think that’s really important.”

Looking back to that mould that they found themselves in with their debut, it’s a time that both Dom and Ryan see as a rushed burst from the gate. ‘Superfood’ was a whirlwind that took them on a manic run around the country with loud flurries of Britpop chimes - and the lessons learnt from that time meant that their next step needed to be bold and distant, embracing the aspects that both Dom and Ryan needed to incorporate. That feeling of unrestricted unison that came with their jamming sessions in each other's flats in Birmingham during those early days, and one undeniably of their own.

“It was very of its time,” pinpoints Dom, summarising those early years. “It was of that moment. It was going just so fast, and we were playing all of these gigs. It was just the way things were, and we didn’t really think it out from the get-go, just rushed really. I think I’m kinda glad it happened like that because if it didn’t happen, we probably wouldn’t have the people and fans we have now, but it was definitely a learning curve.

“It’s just annoying that we sat for three of four years with a debut album that we didn’t really fully back, and it got to the point where it all just ran out of steam. Our hearts weren’t really in what we were doing, and I think we made it difficult for ourselves in a way because we could have just carried on and hammered out another album that would have been quite similar.”

After touring subsided, Dom and Ryan found themselves in a situation where they had no idea where things were heading for Superfood. Left to their own devices and with no clear end goal in sight, they retreated to what they knew best. Building on Dom’s years of bedroom producing (“I became known as that guy at Uni who could come and produce demos and all that”), they began playing around in the shared flat they lived in, blending strange ideas and sounds into the music that they wanted to make. It wasn’t about time; it wasn’t about fitting into any sort of bracket - it was about Superfood simply creating.

“It was just trial and error the whole thing,” notes Dom. “When we started recording again, it was firstly for ourselves, and we agreed to just take our time on things. We were living together so we’d be working on songs till like six in the morning and then wake up after that at about two in the afternoon, get breakfast and jump right back in. We ended up recording drums in an old button factory in Stoke Newington, and it didn't have a toilet, just a compost version that you had to fill with hay, so it was hard to force ourselves out of our place and spend hours there.”

“There was no end goal to it too; we had no idea if we were ever going to finish these songs or where they’d end up or if they would ever be released.”

[caption id="attachment_23937" align="aligncenter" width="1500
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / Dork[/caption]
"pull" text="We had no idea if these songs would ever be released.

That new approach to songwriting and the new material was a key difference for Ryan compared with the first album and follows Superfood’s unique template to a tee. “It was a completely different way of doing things too. It wasn’t like we were writing acoustic demos and picking from them. We were always thinking about songs being on the album, so we would record absolutely everything as good as we could. We spent so much time going through songs, but we were really into it.”

‘Bambino’ is a record that never sits still, it's practically shaking with ideas and vibrant sparks of different genres and different moods. From the peaks of chanting neu-ska chimes on ‘I Can’t See’, the glam stomp of ‘Need A Little Spider’, the cut and paste majesty of ‘Where’s The Bass Amp’ or the plucky heights of ‘Unstoppable’ - it’s a record comfortable in its shape-shifting skin. One that blossoms with the sound of a band in their element and locking in on exactly who they are.

Yet even then, the future wasn’t clear. “It was still all up in the air,” reiterates Dom. “We got this amazing opportunity to go out to LA to finish mixing the record - and we just crammed in all the time we could. Even then, when it was all done, and we were back, we were like, ‘Well, what are we even going to do with this? How do we get it to a label?' We didn’t even have a band to play live!”

“We were actually going to leak it once,” interjects Ryan, with a smile sneaking across his face. Dom immediately starts laughing, knowing the story to come. “So we were drunk on a night out,” continues Ryan, “and we looked at each other and just went, ‘Mate, let's just fucking put the album out’."

“We were walking down Ridley Road in Dalston,” picks up Dom, “and our mate chased down the street after us and just went, ‘Lads. Don’t.”

“Two years work,” finishes Ryan. “Don’t do that.”

The first people they reached out to were Dirty Hit. A combination of daring, swagger and a constantly burning hunger to go bigger and bolder while delivering musical shades of every colour, it’s what Blind Date would call a match made in heaven. “It’s crazy,” notes Dom, taking a satisfied sip of his beer. “They were the first people we sent it to and right away were into it and supportive, and just like that everything changed. It turned around in the space of two weeks to a whole new position."

“It went from me and Dom thinking we might have to scrap it all, to something really great. In a matter of weeks,” reiterates Ryan.

Switched up, turned to a dial that rings out far and wide - Superfood are not just a band reborn. They have a new vision, one wrapped in every bright light under the sun and more - unafraid and determined to leave a mark with a record that’s as complete a snapshot of where Dom and Ryan belong. Forever knocking on doors, forever pushing against any restraints and willing to take whatever path tickles their fancy, it’s what bands should be like. Yet there’s nothing like Superfood. It’ll take them to bigger stages, bigger moments and above all else, makes them one of the most exciting British bands of the year.

“We realised that what it’s all about and what’s going to make us happy and do this for years to come is us two sitting in a studio and being weird,” points out Dom, as he finishes his beer and prepares to head back into the studio to mix even more music. “Just doing what we want and learning how to play it live later. That’s what we’ve learnt over the past couple of years. It was a rollercoaster, but now we just want to make the next album, because we know exactly what we want to do.”

Always looking to the next horizon, Superfood are free to do it their way. A life that’s full, now that’s a classic we can get behind.

Taken from the September issue of Dork. Order a copy here. Superfood's album 'Bambino' is out 8th September.

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