Singled Out: Space Orphan's Superphonic

Space Orphan

Denver funk rockers Space Orphan released their new album "Shut Up About The Sun" today (September 30) and to celebrate we asked the band's John Wirtz to tell us about the single "Superphonic". Here is the story:

I was listening to a lot of James Brown around the time I wrote "Superphonic," and constantly walking around with his music in my head--not necessarily any song in particular, but just different grooves of his. I knew I wanted to write something upbeat and funky, but I didn't want it to be just an instrumental James Brown imitation. I started messing with this groove on the clarinet, and realized that once I took vocals out of the equation and pushed the tempo a bit, the song sorta takes on a Headhunters kind of vibe too (which I like). Rather than just drop from the (a) section straight into the (b) section, I wanted to include some sort of cool transition lick. This tune is a great example of me trying to get out of my creative box with writing; I tried some techniques that I don't (or didn't at the time) often use. So I threw in a very tight lick to go from section (a) to section (b). The (b) section has a disco-ish drum groove that I love, but I wanted to do more than just sit on that chord. I wanted that part of the song to sound like some sort of a happy funk-party anthem or something.

I'm not a religious person at all, but at the time I had a weekly church gig that took up a lot of my free time and energy. I'd spent all afternoon for a few days messing with this original song when I should have been working on music for that week's service. The bridge melody came to me just as I had to leave for a church rehearsal, and I was really nervous to lose the idea during the 30 minute car ride, and then during the 2 hour rehearsal. When I arrived, I was scrambling to jot down the melody, and literally every free second I had during rehearsal was spent jotting it down. Whenever the director would stop the band to instruct the vocals on something, I was furiously scrambling to write down chords and melody before it escaped me. Once it was all down on paper, I was relieved and then spent the next day or so fine tuning it. I was pretty happy with it because it sounded funky, it was different than anything I'd written up to that point, it reflected some of my James Brown/Herbie Hancock influences without being a straight rip-off, and I knew it would stand on its own even without horns. That said, I was incredibly excited to show this to our trumpet player Gabe Mervine, who did the horn arrangements for the record. I didn't have to give him much instruction, he pretty much nailed it. The only thing it needed was a title, and "Superphonic" was a word our drummer Eric Imbrosciano jokingly threw out during rehearsal. I thought it sounded cool, so I decided to call the song "Superphonic," only to find out later that it's some sort of drum company or something. So, I guess we sold out before we even got started.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!


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