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Supertones - profile by Bruce A. Brown

  • 1999 1 Jun
Supertones - profile by Bruce A. Brown
"Even before we were the Supertones, people would say 'if you just didn't sing about Jesus, more people would like you. And you'd get more opportunities.' But we've always said, 'no, absolutely not, no compromise.' Our mission is first to preach the gospel to those who don't know Christ."
--Supertones' Matt Morginsky

To find out about Supertones' involvement with Food for the Hungry and child sponsorship click here!

by Bruce A. Brown for the Music Channel at

The O.C. {{Supertones}} are about to take a vacation. But you won't find them standing around twiddling their collective thumbs. According to vocalist/lyricist Matt Morginsky, the California sextet is already looking at summer festivals, a fall headlining tour and returning to the recording studio in the spring of 2000. But first, there's that couple weeks off.

"Actually, we have a show in Puerto Rico June 5th," Matt says, with more than a little enthusiasm. "So I guess that could be considered a bit of a vacation." But that date jump-starts a busy summer and even busier close of the century for the band. Their summer schedule kicks into high gear barely two weeks after the Supertones wrapped a mammoth tour with the Newsboys.

"We tour a lot," Matt admits, with no hint of understatement in his voice. "We have to tour to pay bills. But we were finding ourselves looking at playing a lot of the same cities over and over again. So we thought 'why not be the opener on a tour of smaller markets.' Our manager took the challenge and hooked us up with the {{Newsboys}}."

The Newsboys/Supertones tour, which concluded May 15th in Nashville, found the band introducing audiences to its latest BEC album, ==Chase the Sun==. Although the 'tones made their bones as a ska act, Matt likes to think the band's horizons have broadened considerably on their third outing.

"==Chase the Sun== wasn't a calculated step," Matt explains. "It just displays the growth that you hopefully experience as a band. Everything was a step up, as far as producer, engineer and studio. We also added percussion, organ and even a DJ. There's no one song that I wish wasn't on the album, which I can't honestly say about the previous albums. It's not stuff we'll mind playing over and over after two years."

Matt says he's especially pleased with the songwriting and with his vocals. "With the first record, I was conscious of writing ska songs. With the second album, I was writing pop songs that were mostly placed in ska arrangements. With this record, we definitely experimented more. [Producer] Gggarth pushed us to get more creative with our songwriting, as well as stretching us as musicians to give great performances. I think people appreciate when they listen to our records that it's not all one thing; it's really the tastes of six people coming through. I think people have gotten away from having variety on their records and it makes for less interesting albums."

"I also feel better about my singing on this record," Matt continues. "On the first album, I did a lot of one-takes and nobody seemed to mind, so of course I thought, 'Yeah, I can do this.' The second album was a rude awakening. Steve Krvac is such a perfectionist, that it was just the opposite dozens of punch-ins on every song. On the new album, I'd sing four or five takes of each song straight through and Gggarth would compile the best parts from that. The feel is definitely more spontaneous and more like our live sound."

==Strike Back==, The O.C. Supertones' second disc, has long since passed the quarter-million sales mark, so expectations were high for the follow-up. With a bit of a wry chuckle, Matt Morginsky describes the sales for ==Chase the Sun== as having "leveled out at 5000 units a week," a figure that would please most Christian alternative acts (or their mainstream counterparts, for that matter.) "It's up to something like 80,000 units after a couple months. I think some people were expecting us to have a platinum record within a week, but we're very pleased with how it's selling."

Matt says he's very appreciative of the fans' support, although he's reluctant to try and analyze the band's success. "I hope they like us for who we are and what we do, but who knows why people like this or that? No one really knows, or there would be no record executives out of work! I hope people like both our music and our lyrics, but what we've generally been told is that the lyrics really do connect with people and they see themselves in the songs. I'm just writing about my life as a Christian and other people are bound to have had the same experiences as me."

Sometimes, Matt confesses, the level of appreciation fans show can get a bit out of proportion. He says that can make it difficult to deflect the praise to its proper place. "We've been touring for three years, so we've had some practice at it. It's just keeping things in perspective. I really do wish people wouldn't put us on a pedestal or think that we're special. That can be frustrating. It is nice when people let you know that they appreciate what you're doing. You can receive some adulation without getting a big head. It is nice to know you're having an affect on people. Just keep in mind that what's done in eternity is the only thing that counts. Concert attendance and record sales are not going to be remembered in heaven; only the lives that were touched, the people that were converted."

One of the ways that the Supertones attempted to make a lasting impact on people's lives was through the tour sponsorship of the Food for the Hungry organization. Through its efforts on the Newsboys tour, the band was able to raise awareness and encourage people to consider sponsoring a needy child. "It was just a way that we could be directly involved in feeding the hungry. It's one way that the platform we have can be used for good. Hundreds of people's lives are being touched just because of the efforts of a stupid band! I mean, it's incredible to be used in that way."

To find out more about Food for the Hungry and child sponsorship click here!

On the immediate horizon, you can look for The Supertones at several festivals in the U.S. this summer, including AtlantaFest, Cornerstone, SonShine, Alive, Creation East & NW and NewSong ("We love festivals because it gives us a chance to meet other artists and see them perform.") However, don't hold your breath for a repeat of the Skamania tour. "Skamania was a one-time thing. We love those bands, but three ska bands is too much! But we've got a tour planned for the fall with {{All Star United}}, {{Plankeye}} and {{One Eighty}}. We'll be adding a keyboard player and DJ, bringing video and building special sets. It'll be a real leap up for us."

Although {{The Supertones}} have perked up the ears of mainstream media outlets such as ESPN and MTV, the band remains committed to its uncompromising gospel presentation both on its albums and in its live shows. Matt says that stating their beliefs in emphatic fashion "is a no-brainer. Even before we were the Supertones, people would say 'if you just didn't sing about Jesus, more people would like you. And you'd get more opportunities.' But we've always said, 'no, absolutely not, no compromise.' Our mission is first to preach the gospel to those who don't know Christ. As far as the Christian kids go -- and most of them at the shows are - we definitely want them to get their money's worth as far as the show goes. But we want to build people up, with speaking and singing and worship. We want people to come together and forget about everything else and spend time with God."

To find out more about Supertones' involvement with Food for the Hungry and child sponsorship click here!