…thompthompthompthompthompthompthompWAAHHAAAAHHHAAAAHEEHAAAHAAHEEEE!!! Hysterical laughter rockets up the stairs. THWACK! The door bursts open, and a deranged man with wild, drug-crazed eyes stumbles into my living room. He reeks of a familiar lunacy.
“My body went all gung ho and all the sudden I’m running down the stairs to see if the world was like me…and it wasn’t.”
….WAAAHAHHAHHAHHAHEEEHAAHAAA!!!!!! FLOONK thompthompthompthompthompthompthomp… I’ve just sat down with Jeremy Koffarnus and Aaron Okenatez of the band Superfluous Glowshoes, and things have gotten more than a little weird.
…thompthompthompthompthompthompthomp BOOSH “This shit is not over! The world is awesome! A car drives by and you’re like ‘Is that a flying dragon?’” BAAAHAHHAHHAHHAHHAHHA!!!! FWACK thompthompthompthompthompthompthomp… AHAHAHHAAHAA!!!
Wherever the Superfluous Glowshoes go, chaos is never far behind them. Their music, like their home life, tends toward the absurd. The group’s principal songwriters, Jeremy and Aaron, have been playing music together in some form or another since 2005, but their latest incarnation is just two years old. Glowshoes consists of Jeremy Koffarnus on vocals/guitar, Aaron Okenatez on guitar/electronic manipulation, Justin Leopold on bass guitar, Wesley Arenston on drums, and Brandon Broester on keyboards/trumpet. Like any other two year-old, The Glowshoes know how to make a mess. Debut demo “Mastercakes” is a freewheeling organ grinder of an album smeared with greasepaint and loaded on cough syrup. It pukes on the drapes and screws your old lady. It steals your car and drinks your beer, and if you feed it after midnight…well, you don’t want to feed it after midnight. The group’s sophisticated sense of melody and organic approach to songwriting are refreshing to say the least. In a world that’s all too often more concerned with style than substance, Superfluous Glowshoes stand apart as a band operating on their own terms and without pretense. As is often the case with bands that have no easily identifiable cultural cues, the Glowshoes honed their chops in a socially isolated, podunk, Midwestern community.
Koffarnus: “We were living in a tiny town, you know? We thought Radiohead was an underground band.”
Both Jeremy and Aaron are from Colby, WI, not exactly Seattle ’92, and their music is as much indebted to their time spent in the confines of rural Wisconsin as it is to The Beatles or The Jesus Lizard. None of the music that Jeremy and Aaron grew up listening to was contextualized. There were no social implications associated with certain genres. No in group/out group politics. No rules. And this isn’t to say that Jeremy or Aaron would have played by the rules even if they had existed.
Koffarnus: “One big thing is, my entire life, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been listening to The Ventures, and they’re the greatest group of all time. They’ve been writing the same song for the last 50,000 years, and it’s still awesome.” “We also have a shared passion for The Beatles. I like the White Album the best because it has the most songs.”
Okenatez: “I use classical music a lot. Counterpoint is very interesting. I like to use the structure of classical music to write rock songs. It gives it a nice, cross-genre feel.”
Since moving to Minneapolis and out of cultural quarantine, Jeremy and Aaron’s eclectic mix of divergent influences has expanded to include progressive rock and noise.
Koffarnus: “We’ve been listening to a lot of metal and noise music lately. Jesus Lizard, Melvins, (Don) Caballero, Battles, King Crimson.” “When we first moved here, there was a showhouse called the Cockpit, and they had noise music. At first we were like “what the fuck”, and then we started to realize that we just like listening to sounds. And it doesn’t matter if they’re patterned as long as they’re vicious.” “The biggest reason we got into noise rock is ‘Then Comes Dudley’ by The Jesus Lizard.”
Okenatez: “Noise music is very fun to play too. I’ve been getting into building oscillators from broken amps and equalizers. I also run (the signal) through a TV sometimes, and it forms colored lines.”
All of the shows the Superfluous Glowshoes have played in Minneapolis have been with other locals, with the exception of an opening gig for John Maus of Ariel Pink that only Jeremy and Aaron played, and the majority of these shows have been house shows. Like many smoked-out basement warriors before them, Superfluous Glowshoes have made a name for themselves by combining their efforts with other independent artists’.
Koffarnus: “Moonstone, Velvet Davenport, Chickadee Mountain Martyrs, Skoal Kodiak, Tender Meat, Knife World, Sarah Johnson, Slapping Purses… We don’t know him or anything, but Dosh is pretty cool.” “Moonstone vibe together like an 80s dance band with a 70s raw punk rock feel. Like Yes “Fragile” album. They formed their own religion. It’s massively epic.”
“Honestly, the best shows are underground house shows. It’s always better to be able to smoke weed while you watch the band.”
The prog and noise influences on “Mastercakes” are balanced by a sincere appreciation for pop songwriting. As unhinged as Superfluous Glowshoes are, there is always an underlying method to their madness.
Koffarnus: “We’re always going to be a pop rock band at our core.” “Sometimes I feel like music should be raw and simple and sometimes I feel like it should be complicated and ornate and superhuman. It depends on how you’re feeling. When you just go off into total explosive free form experimentation, some of the raw emotion that you get with a three chord song is lost.”
Although their demo clocks in at just twenty-three minutes, the Superfluous Glowshoes’ music is so dense it would seem ridiculous to add any more material to it. The group swings from Pixies-fueled alternative rock to feedback-drenched drone with ease, and the gaps between overflow with prog rock freakouts and electronic noise bursts. Three of the songs on the disc form a cluster which the band call “the holy trifecta.”
“They’re about success, hard work, and sex,” says Koffarnus.
“And arrogance,” adds Okenatez.
“The songs have a common theme of cruelty from one side to another.” says Koffarnus. “Maybe a touch of megalomania.”
Okenatez: “We like to write about megalomaniacs.”
Koffarnus: “I watched a lot of Disney movies when I was little, and I always liked the evil characters’ songs. So that informs a lot of our music.”
Superfluous Glowshoes are “currently closed for remodeling,” but Jeremy hopes to make their future music even more epic.
Koffarnus: “Learning how to play guitar.” “Dynamics have been limited to the top end of the fast and loud spectrum.” “Loud and fast and louder and faster.” “I always wondered when I was younger why it took the Pixies to make people realize that, if you play the quiet part before the loud part, the loud part hits harder. I want to have more pastoral type feelings in the songs. Prim and proper.”
How does he feel about file sharing?
“They don’t tell you this in school, but you can download music for free, and you don’t have to pay anyone, not even Radiohead. By the way, if you want to download our music, feel free.”
What would he do without music?
“Well, instead of spending most of my time working and smoking weed, I’d spend all of my time working and smoking weed. I literally have no other skills.”
Their parting thoughts?
Aaron would like to thank God, Satan, and the mighty erection that brought him here. Jeremy would like to thank God, Satan, and the adequate erection that got him here. Also, they have a message for the kids, “Take drugs and drop out of school. Throbbing vaginas. Send us money. We’re way into money, and anytime people want to give us money, it’s cool.”
Superfluous Glowshoes on Myspace and Facebook.
Also, check out Aaron and Jeremy’s other project WizardBaby. It will make you weep tears of sweet, sweet joy.
WizardBay “Wilderness Howls” at the Book House in Dinkytown March 25, 2010: