Matt Mercado - Supermercado

January 13, 2006

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Tell me a little bit about Supermercado.

Basically the band started with me and the drummer, Potter. We were in Pivotman together and there was just a lot of personal bullshit that we decided to give that up. We probably figured it was going to be our last stand so we wanted to do something fun. Potter told me the other day that actually Skender, the bass player, came up with the name Supermercado. I wasn't aware of that but that's what he's claiming. We were just wanting to do a lot of songs from my past. Not a lot but just incorporate some songs from the other bands that I had been in like Pivotman and Mindbomb and even Daisychain. So Skender named the band. I know it's a silly name. Talk to the bass player. I'm done trying to defend the name.

It's cool in a cool sort of way.

It's pretty stupid but whatever. The funny thing about the name is that we had some signed indie deals and then we had some big time guys trying to get us out and we just stuck with the Pivotman thing. We couldn't use the name Pivotman so I did Daisychain and then I had to change my name because there's somebody else on there to Mindbomb. Then after that deal ended I couldn't use that name so I kept on changing my name and when we stuck with Supermercado it was a joke but then we wrote the song "Scary Baby" and then we figured we were onto something. It wasn't quite such a joke anymore but we had already made a lot of ground with it so we decided we could not change it again. We just started building the name again so that was it. There were too many name changes. You pretty much start over every time when you change the name.

Well, I don't think anyone can claim they have the name Supermercado.

There might be some band. No, actually there's not. There is some band in Mexico that wanted to use it but we have it.

You beat them to it, damn it.

Beat you to it. One thing good about the name, it's really easy to remember even though it's stupid as hell. But a lot of bands will tell you their name and it's like "what was that?" It's not that hard to forget Supermercado so there's a positive on the negative.

You've been in a lot of different bands and I've heard of Daisychain. You mix hard rock, industrial thrash metal, electronica, rap, and power pop. God damn.

Yeah, we're a little tweaked. On this record we decided we just wanted to do whatever we wanted, had fun, and it's kind of a blessing and a curse in ways. I remember Billy Corgan when we were in Daisychain, we used to play with the Smashing Pumpkins. This was even before either of us were signed. He always told me he loved my stuff but it's like watching 10 bands when he sees us. It's just always been the way I write, I don't know. I guess I'm schizophrenic. I have no idea. I try to make it as uniform as possible. I think on our next record we're definitely going to go a little bit more one direction but until then this is what we got. We're real happy with the record though. It's the first record I've made that didn't make me puke. The funny thing is that Jeff Swanson from our label, we had mastered it and it was the third time already because they had gotten the order wrong and then they had gotten some wrong mixes. So the label guy calls me and says "Mercado, are you fucking listening to these masters? This is costing me a lot of money." I'm like "I've got to listen to my own records?" I nervously sat down because when you listen to the mastered record, you have to listen to the record from start to finish so then you can okay it. In case there's the wrong mix or the wrong arrangement or if there's a glitch in the middle. Who knows so I sat down and I put it in and at the end of it I was like wow, that was pretty rocking dude. I was really happy with it. That was the first record. I would leave the room before that on my other records so I can definitely listen to this record. That's a plus.

I liked it because there was such a cool mix of songs. I liked the rap stuff too which normally I'm not too much into rap but it's not too much rap but it's cool.

Yeah, it's not too much rap. We even probably tried to minimize it a little bit. Killa Kat's a rapper too. I just saw him last night actually downtown at the Subterranean. Kat sings so let him get a little rapping in there, why not?

Tell me a little bit about Scary Baby. How long did it take to do the record?

It took a while just because we had to release it ourselves in early 2004. Then we met up with Jeff. This was just an Internet release kind of deal and he really dug it and wanted to put it out nationally. We signed with Dark Star to put it out nationally. We tracked some extra songs and we wanted to make it a little bit more special for the national release so it was probably a year after that by the time we finally, not working every day obviously, but it took about a year pretty much after that before we tried tracking a bunch of songs. Then at one point he was like "dude, here's your tape. You want a record out before 2010, I need it by August at the latest." I think it was July 26, I can't remember the exact date, but he said this is it so we realized that we had to finish it. Since it was a national release, international actually because it's going to be out in Europe, we really spent a lot of time mixing it. I spent about five weeks, I just blacked out my studio for five weeks, and then the band was there. Every day the drummer would obviously be asking for more drums and the bass player more bass. At the end of the first week it was just a clusterfuck. Somebody said it sounded like a Motley Crue concert in the first row. Everything was just so loud because the guitar player would be like "no, turn me up." I let them stay at home and said "you guys can stay. Thanks. I appreciate it. Stay at home." After three weeks I was just beaten down. I was like I can't even tell if I suck or if it's good. What I did, I went to a couple of my friend engineers and asked them where it was. They said it was really close so then I got back into my groove again and I was able to finish it in two weeks.

You were trying to drive yourself crazy.

I don't know. It was a full circle of insanity by the time I got back. Just having so much input in it with the band members being there, nobody was ever happy with their level compared to everybody else's level. Mixing I would say is like one of the hardest aspects of it I think. Believe it or not, there's a few guys who mix a lot of the records that you hear. It's almost like an oil painting I'd say because every time you mix a song it's going to turn out a little bit different.

Who did a lot of the lyrical writing? Is that pretty much you?

Mainly I write the lyrics and Killa Kat throws in his stuff too. He does the additional lyrics and whatever. A lot of the stuff he's saying and singing, he wrote.

What kind of stuff do you guys like to write about?

I would have to say that I have like a little radio station in my head that I don't have the radio on too much. It forces me to save ideas and stuff. Basically just trying to remember some stuff. Some are good. Some are not great. Just whatever the song is. I don't really necessarily try to have a subject matter in mind. I just let the song write itself and then I try to interpret it at that point and then focus in on what I'm trying to say with it. Then try to narrow it in and nail it like that.

Mindbomb had some songs on some motion picture soundtracks. Are you guys hoping to have some of your songs with this band on some soundtracks?

Yeah, I think it goes well with that stuff. Potter and I are actually going to L.A. to talk with some pretty good management now so we're going to upgrade the management and they're going to take care of a lot of that stuff. Like a lot of corporate sponsorships and stuff for us and booking tours over the summer and stuff so we're pretty excited about that because you go through phases where you have great management and then sometimes if you're not making them enough money, they just take care of the guys who are making money. We found a couple of guys who are really pretty top notch management and they're really interested in taking over the band so it's going to take a lot of pressure off of me on the day to day stuff like that. It gives me relief between management. When we sign with one of these new managers, we haven't decided who we're going to go with but they'll be able to do a lot of the things. But I tell you what though, in this day and age you have to be just an unbelievable promoter now. It's not like when Mindbomb got signed, half the band would sit around and watch cartoons all day. That was very typical for bands that were on labels. Just wait around all day. We've got to play? Okay. You just got to be in total promotion mode now which I've gotten used to. At first it was like oh my God, a lot of stuff. I'm on the promotion horse right now. The band is becoming more enjoyable now.

There used to be a time where you could just sit around and play and not have to worry about that. Of course along with that also went a lot of bands finding themselves getting fucked over because they weren't into the business part of it.

Yeah, and it's in a sense obviously being signed to a major you definitely get more money. You get paid up front money so you can sit around and watch cartoons all day but I never even talked to my label guys ever. It was always through the management or whatever. There were so many things that could have been resolved just by having the guy pick up the phone a couple of times a week and there were a lot of things that would have gotten resolved. With me and the label I'm on now, I always knew what the promotion end was of it and the radio and the print but now that I'm in on it and hands on, I understand a lot better and I'm really learning a lot about what goes on.

You're also in more control.

Also more control. There were some songs they just didn't want on the record that I had probably spent three weeks on one song alone. It was kind of a crazy tune but nope. He explained it well though. He said it was a little too goofy and it was a song about the Supermercado guys. It was pretty good. I thought it was actually really good. Just kind of tweaked out and a lot of high end studio production. He put it in a sense of like it's too goofy and he thought we were too good to be goofy. Full line goofy like that, we didn't need it. Before my label guy would be like "hey, make it more yellow or blue or something" and I'd be like okay. At least what he described to me made sense. Okay, I can understand that now. Make it fly out of the water like a fish or a flying fish. I've heard stuff like that before. At least he made sense. He made his point and I can understand it, okay I've got you. We'll probably save that for the next project which will probably be out in summer. It's going to be the 5.1 surround mix to the Scary Baby record.

Yeah, I was about to say you can always put it on the next record.

We'll sing it on the next record. Don't even worry about that. Or maybe I'll sing it on the surround sound DVD. We'll see. We'll sing it on something.

So you guys are working on a DVD?

5.1 surround sound DVD. I'll start on it as soon as we get back from L.A. I've done some surround sound mixes and the sound is so incredible. It's probably not something that can take off for another couple of years just because at this point the labels can hardly even sell CDs. My guess is that they don't want to put the money into the development of it and then have people download them on the iPods because it is kind of expensive. It's not quite as expensive as making a record but it's very expensive to mix 5.1. I don't know why. Have you ever heard a 5.1 audio or DVD?

Yeah, actually I have because one of my friends is a technology geek. He has to have the latest shit.

What did you think? Were you pretty impressed by the sound of it?

Yeah, absolutely. It was nice and clear and it was like being in concert hall without the crowd noise.

Yeah, absolutely. The next phase is going to be 5.1 car stereos so then I think it'll start picking up. The mixing. Right now it's a real open market and if you have the budget to do it and the time, it's probably going to take me another two or three weeks to mix it. It's something that we do. I have a facility in my recording studio to do the 5.1. I think this would be a good candidate for the 5.1 mixing anyway so that would be our next project to look forward to.

I think there will be a market for it because not everyone is into the iPod thing. I myself like to have a physical product that I can pop into my CD player.

Yeah, I think there's a case for that too. I think when it gets more convenient like it hooks up to your car stereo and home theater and your office, and then you can have 20,000 songs in your pocket. I'm a CD guy myself too but I'm embracing the iPod stuff. I kind of like that way too because you always have it on you. Your entire record collection, you'd have to carry around a couple of suitcases of regular CDs.

What kind of touring plans are you guys working on?

The managers we talked to want to put us on a college tour probably in the spring or at the latest in the fall. We're leaving Wednesday and we're meeting with them all week. Potter actually is performing at NAMM which is that National Association of Musical Merchants thing. Music which should be pretty fun so we'll go check him out and then we're going to see our buddies from Chicago, Disturbed. Then I'll be there for a couple of more days and then we'll decide which management we're going to go with. Basically what it is now, they're hooking us up with sponsorships. Companies to support the tour. Whatever one of those tours go out as. Say for instance an energy drink tour or whatever they have out. Probably in the summer.

Yeah, the Disturbed boys are on the Jagermeister tour aren't they?

I'm not that sure about it because I haven't spoken with them in a while. They probably are.

Yeah, I think they're on the Jagermeister thing. Any other thoughts or comments?

No, I think we covered everything. We definitely want to come back to Texas. Texas is a really fun rock state for sure. There's a lot of cities near by so you can play in Texas for a week and play a different city. Then you get out on the West coast and everything is so far away from each other. Texas will definitely be a spot we'll be in. Summer or at the latest in the fall.