Chris Krupa Interview

In the spring of 1998, they released their first CD to rave reviews. It became the top selling local CD the month it was released and received 1999 SAMMY (Syracuse Area Music Award) nominations for Best Local Recording and Best Rock Band.

Their latest CD is titled "Confusion Among The Masses."

When they're not in the studio, they're out on the road playing shows all over the Northeast, from Maine to Ohio and everywhere in between.

We are of course talking about Supergush. Supergush vocalist, guitarist Chris Krupa talked with us about his group.

Q - Chris, I don't understand why you had to change the name from Gush to Supergush.
A - I still don't understand that myself. (Laughs).

Q - Were you on the verge of signing some kind of major label deal?
A - No, but Gush was. The band Gush out of Long Island. They had just started distributing their CD nationwide. So, it was a matter of they had the name first and we opted to change it first before it got into any legal things. We had done some research and nothing turned up which is always the case. And then, about a year into being Gush and just developing a fan base and setting up the name where people knew who we were, we come across another Gush. And, it was like okay, well as long as they're there and we're here, it's not a problem at this point in time. It's not like we're on the verge of breaking, and it didn't look like they were either. A couple of months later, their CD showed up in Borders and some other local music stores in the national distribution section. So, they were getting some airplay on some of the stations down in New York City. We just kind of opted to change it figuring that it would have to come at some time anyway if we were to break.

Q - So, they didn't call you at any time and say what's going on here?
A - No. We kind of headed it off at the pass so to speak. They were aware that we were out there.

Q - Were you in a group before Supergush?
A - I was in a group in college called The Brave Utensils, from 1992 to 1994.

Q - What college was that?
A - LeMoyne. That's where I met the guitarist Terry Clifton, who I founded the band with. We did pretty much cover stuff and played a lot of local bars and parties. It was kind of like your typical college band. Then I moved away after graduation. I was in a blues band for a year in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. That brings us to 1995. It was a four-piece band called The B Flat Blues Band. Terry and I were pretty good friends, so we stayed in touch after graduation, even though I was out there and he was here. We talked about starting something up when I moved back. I was only gone for a year, doing AmeriCorp which is kind of like volunteering in the Peace Corps, but it's within the country. So, when I finished up my year, I moved back to Syracuse. Terry and I started an acoustic duo called The Noisy Boys, which we've been doing ever since. We still do that on the side with the band.

Q - Where do you play with that duo?
A - The acoustic duo plays a lot of the smaller bars and some of the same bars we play with the band. We do like Bennigan's on the Blvd., Rosie O'Grady's, Coleman's. One of the places we played just for that is a place called Takoma's, out in Chittenango. It's a great little bar. We've had a good rapport with those guys for about five years now. We play those places on a rotation (basis). Typically Terry and I will play the acoustic duo on like a Thursday and Friday, and the band will play on a Saturday. Between the two projects we probably play three to four times a week and over the summer anywhere between three to five times a week.

Q -You certainly work a lot.
A - Terry and I both work for the Syracuse City School District and so with the summer this is all we do. We beef up the schedule a little bit.

Q - You perform on college campuses out of town. What's the purpose behind that?
A - Well, it's kind of a dual purpose. Colleges pay really well and it helps us finance the things we do, like promotion locally, as well as recording and reproduction of the CD, merchandising and advertising. We spend a lot of money out of the band advertising shows. And so the colleges enable us to do other things cheaper around here. You know, we'll go and make our money at the colleges doing covers as well as originals promoting the new CD. It's also a decent money maker. We play anywhere from Maine, the farthest east we've been, to Columbus, Ohio, the farthest west we've been. The music we play is aimed right at the college age person, as far as covers that we do. A lot of modem rock songs. On those types of shows, maybe a third of the night will be original material. The original material is very pop rockish as well. So, it kind of fits right in.

Q - Do you think there's a music scene in Syracuse?
A - It's tough to tell. For cover bands yeah. There's definitely a scene out there. You've got bands thriving off the cover. People want to hear songs they're familiar with. As far as original material, other than Styleen's, I can't think of a place you can go and play original material successfully, without a huge fan base. Possibly The Lost Horizon, although that's always aimed at a heavier crowd it seems. Styleen's seems to be the only place in town maybe apart from like a Happy Endings which is more of an acoustic based thing. There's not too many places to play in town. You find that a lot of the just original bands don't come through that often. Maybe the Planet 505 is the other place you'd catch bands doing their own thing. There's not a lot of places for bands in the rock industry to play in the Syracuse area. So, you find a lot of people traveling. We'll do the Syracuse area a little bit more because it's like we have a dual band. We do the covers as well to make the money and we do the original shows to promote the original material.

Q - You performed at a Syracuse Crunch game back on November 6, 1998.
A - Right.

Q - I've never heard of a group doing something like that. Were you the first?
A - I think we were. I think they only had two or three bands play. It was like a series they wanted to start called 'Party Under The Ice.' They had a band playing 'Happy Hour' on a Friday night prior to the Crunch game. I think we played maybe from five to seven and the hockey game was seven-thirty to whatever. That was kind of neat. It was definitely a different crowd. All walks of life were at the Crunch game, maybe a crowd we wouldn't be exposed to normally. We've really stumbled into a lot of unique shows, between the Crunch game and we've also played the Back Court. We played for one of the Syracuse University games. We played the St. John's game back in '98. I don't remember the date, but, it was one of the Syracuse games. It was great to get the band out there and let people see us. There were 30,000 people at the St. John's game, who maybe never heard of us. That was a lot of fun.

Q - Does playing a gig like that actually help the band? Do people come up and say I saw your band at the St. John's game?
A - Yeah. It's funny how things will come back to you years later. I'll have somebody say we saw you guys playing as the acoustic duo out in Canandaigua at a little hole in the wall we play that's been great to us over the years, so we've gone back there. People say we've seen you there, we've seen you here, just randomly down the road, two, three years later. You don't necessarily see the impact of playing those shows right then and there. It's basically a name recognition thing. You need longevity and you need to stay in it for a decent amount of time before people are going to remember. That's why we're big on the promotion stuff. We give stickers away at all the shows just so somebody walks away with something that's tangible, so they can say, I remember seeing this band a couple of years ago at Styleen's, and they're playing this weekend.

Q - You've approached record labels, haven't you?
A - Yes. We did a solicitation about a year and-a half ago, when the first CD came out. We had some decent response back, but nothing to merit going after anything like that. We'll probably try the same approach, although it's such a shot in the dark. You really need that connection, somebody who knows somebody. You need the break of coming across somebody who's interested in your music not because you solicited them but because they happened upon you, or because you've built a big enough fan base it only makes sense that a label will take you over.

Q - You approached independent labels?
A - No. We went after anything that was solicitation. We probably mailed to about 50 different labels; which included smaller independents and some of the larger ones like a Geffen or SONY. We didn't have too many bites. With some people it ends up in the trash. Some people give it a listen and say get back to us when you got new stuff.

Q - Your songs are also on MP3's website, aren't they?
A - Yes.

Q - If somebody can grab a song for free, doesn't that really defeat the purpose of selling a CD?
A - Well, if you look at the music as an extension of marketing yourself and letting people know you're out there ... we're not looking to make money on the CD. The new CD we have out we probably sunk eleven grand into. We're selling it for ten dollars a pop. So right there, we've already lost a thousand dollars. We're just doing it to get the music out there. Be aware of our songs. Maybe somebody likes it and passes it onto a friend. At this part of the game it's just part of the promotional tool. Everything you invest in at this point is basically a break even. What can we do to put the band in the best position possible to make the next step.

Q - How many CD's did you have?
A - We had a thousand printed. We've already done pretty well. The CD release party at the Hotel Syracuse went exceptionally well. We had a great turnout. It was just a lot of fun. We did story telling. We got to see a lot of old friends and new friends. We had a lot of people show up that we didn't expect to come. It was great.

Q - I see you're playing Party on the Plaza. You'll probably be able to sell quite a few CD's there.
A - Definitely. Anywhere we're able to get an opportunity to get it out there, you've got to take advantage of it, because it comes and goes so quickly. I can't believe we've been together going on three and a half years now. It flies by. As you get older, your marketability goes down. Nobody wants to hire a band that's got a bunch of 35 year olds in it playing pop music.

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