FOR nearly 30 years, Superhorse has been one of Savannah’s most remarkable bands. And the past year has been one of the most pivotal for them.
While by their own admission they haven’t played regularly the whole time since forming in 1994, all seven original members of Savannah’s favorite guitar army remain: Keith Kozel (vocals/guitar), Gene Lyons (bass), Sebastian Edwards (guitar), Kevin Rose (guitar/vocals), Jason Anderson (keyboards/vocals), Bob Holmen (guitar), and Jim Reed (drums/vocals).
Ironically, while the pandemic marked the end of many an artistic project, Superhorse come into 2022 with a new head of steam, releasing new material and bringing their raucous live act to new audiences — chiefly at a special headline gig this Thursday night at Service Brewing as part of Savannah Stopover’s Festival Kickoff Event.
In some ways, it’s a crowning achievement for a band with plenty of achievements already.
"This will be an interesting gig for us in several ways,” explains drummer Jim Reed. “It will be our first 'real' show in over three years: We’ll play for close to an hour, and I don’t think there will be more than one song in our set that’s even remotely slow or laid-back. It’s also the first time in longer than I can easily recall that we have had two other really great local bands on the same bill with us.”
Donna Savage and Bro Diddley and The Hips join Superhorse beginning at 7 p.m. this Thursday evening at Service Brewing in a 21+ show.
“The sound and approach of all three bands on this show will complement each other without being too similar. That’s really the hallmark of a great triple-bill, and so I tip my hat to the folks at Stopover for matching us all up in this way,” Reed says.
Reed says that while Superhorse has often gone off the radar for long periods of time, “we never broke up in any way or gave up our commitments to the band. While for many of our fans it may seem as if this recent burst of visible activity is serving as a reunion of sorts, in reality, we were all just busy with other aspects of our lives.”
Reed says trying to fit “seven different middle-aged men’s free time into something resembling a schedule” is a daunting enough task, even in normal times.
The 2020 permanent closing of The Jinx on Congress Street — which Reed describes as “our default venue for local appearances” — was a devastating blow.
“Plus the pandemic – which completely gutted most musicians’ ability to book and play shows, as well as most listeners’ willingness to gather together in crowds to see and hear such things – and you wind up with a perfect storm of obstacles to getting much accomplished,” Reed says.
A rather informal live gig this past summer at Coach’s Corner in honor of the late Joe Holmen served to thaw the band and ready them for this more focused triple bill Thursday night.
"That felt in some ways like more of a private event, and I think that allowed us to shake off the rust a bit without feeling as though we had to really prove ourselves after such a long time away from the stage – as we might feel about this headlining slot at the opening night of the Savannah Stopover Festival," Reed says.
Superhorse are also aware that the Stopover gig presents an opportunity to reach a whole new group of fans who aren’t aware of the band at all.
“While a decent percentage of folks attending this Kickoff Party will already be aware of Superhorse and may be fans of the group, there are a ton of folks who’ll be there who likely have no idea whatsoever who we are,” laughs Reed. “Hopefully they will dig us, and maybe we’ll earn some new followers that night. If we do, then I guess it may serve as a rebirth of sorts for the group.”
But a return to live rock ’n’ roll is just part of what Superhorse has planned for their fans, new and old alike. For the first time in literally decades, the band has released a new single, “Revolution Mutha.”
The song has whetted the appetite for fans of Superhorse’s recorded material, of which only two examples exist: 2005’s “The High Impedance Majesty of Superhorse” and 2008’s “Country Lovin.'"
Reed says “Revolution Mutha” was meant to be one of many songs on what would have been the band's third album – "a record which by all rights should have been finished and released many, many years ago. Unfortunately, life got in the way, and the band would up having to take a short break during the recording of that album.”
That short break turned into a much longer one, with some of that time taken up with a couple of members having to deal with various health issues.
“By the time I and a few other members started clamoring for us to finally knuckle down and complete the record that we had accidentally abandoned, we discovered that the hard drive containing the only copies of the raw, multi-track recordings we’d been working on had become damaged, and all of those files were corrupted,” Reed says. “They could not be accessed or retrieved.”
But “Revolution Mutha” was the sole survivor, Reed says, “because we had gone ahead and finished it up specifically to submit to a compilation album that wanted a Superhorse track.”
That compilation album was little more than a promotional giveaway pressed in very limited quantities and wasn't promoted or made available for sale. “So hardly anyone ever heard it," Reed says.
Now fans can purchase “Revolution Mutha” for high-def downloading and/or streaming, along with a previously unreleased alternate mix of “Like My Shit,” the lead-off track from the Superhorse debut album.
The recovery and release of the entire “unfinished” album — which Reed says is about half complete — appears to be a possibility, if things go according to plan.
“We had basically completed the main framework of ten or 12 tunes – we had final drum, bass and rhythm guitar tracks. There may have been some keeper keyboard tracks as well. But the recordings still needed guitar solos, keyboard solos, percussion and final lead and background vocals before they could be mixed,” Reed explains.
Likely, the only hope Superhorse has of salvaging that work and completing the record is “to pay a specialized firm a sizable amount of money to do some sort of forensic examination and attempt a high-tech recovery process on the files contained on that hard drive,” Reed says.
To help fill the financial gap is not only the new single, but new reissues of the two classic Superhorse albums “The High Impedance Majesty of Superhorse” and “Country Lovin’”, all on Reed’s indie label Fake Fangs.
“Our band has never generated any profit of any sort. We rarely play live and have never sold a ton of records or merchandise. We basically function as most obscure indie bands do these days: it costs us money to exist,” says Reed.
As soon as that third record is either finished — or perhaps reimagined and remade, Reed says — the band will have it professionally mastered and release it on CD and digital download and streaming formats via Fake Fangs Records.
It’s all been quite a journey. But that phrase could describe Superhorse itself — a seven-headed rock ’n’ roll beast that sometimes goes in seven different directions at once.
“Some of us now have kids. Some of us are now married and some of us are now divorced. One of us has had a brain transplant,” says Reed. “And, we’re in the middle of the first salvos of a third World War, aren’t we?”
While some of Superhorse’s members can be lovingly described as curmudgeons — most often by other band members! — Reed laughs that “we seem a little more easygoing towards each other than might have been the case a decade or more ago. Perhaps that’s natural, too. Most bands don’t stick together with the exact same lineup for 28 years. Usually they get sick of each other and fight so much they break up. I feel that a while back we just breathed a collective sigh and resigned ourselves to sticking with this for the long haul, whatever that might mean!”
The bottom line is that “The group would simply not sound the same without this particular combination of players and personalities,” Reed says.
“We are fortunate that some people out there seem to really like the sound we make when we are all on the same stage or in the same studio together. That’s a rare gift for them to give to us. We don’t take it for granted, and we don’t want to let those folks down.”