FRUITCAKE AND OTHER DELIGHTS Fred Schneider and The Superions

The B-52s sprechseganger
gets festive in new synth-pop trio.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

“I’ve been singing ‘Crummy Christmas Tree’ at Christmas
parties for, I don’t know… many years now,” says Fred Schneider of The
Superions, who also happens to be Fred Schneider of the B-52s. “I’d get
everyone to sing a cappella.”

 

The Superions is Schneider’s new synth-pop trio, and “Crummy
Christmas Tree” is one of eleven holiday gems on the band’s new album Destination… Christmas! (Fanatic
Records). “Nutty” Christmas and Halloween songs were an early influence on the
vocalist, and “I’ve just been wanting to do this for the past ten years or
more,” he says. When he met Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall in at Orlando’s
legendary record store Rock and Roll Heaven, he’d found the perfect partners.

 

The first song they wrote was festive, although not Christmassy.
“They had a track they’d put together and asked me to put words to it,” says
Schneider, who told them, “Sure.” The song became “Totally Nude Island,” and the
Christmas idea actually popped up when Schneider was supposed to be writing
songs for The Superions’ first “regular” album. “I was coming up with all these
[Christmas-themed] lyrics, so we decided we’d do a Christmas album.” The trio
cranked out nine songs in eleven days, “one of which was a Halloween song.”

 

To call Destination…
Christmas!
infectiously fun would insult the intelligence of anyone who’s
heard the B-52s. Strictly speaking, those qualities are expected-inevitable-in
anything Schneider does. “Fruitcake,” though, is (rather ironically,
considering its namesake), delicious hilarity, with Schneider reciting the
recipe in his famous talky sprechsegang vocal
style over an irresistible bass line. But that’s not to take anything away from
the bloody story of “Teddy and Betty Yeti,” the lusty, innuendo-heavy “Jingle
Those Bells,” or the mindlessly appealing “Santa’s Disco.”

 

There’s another theme tying these songs together, perhaps
you’ve noticed? Sex. Double-entendres and innuendo run rampant in Schneider’s
lyrics, no matter the project-but in his solo work it’s a little more
noticeable. Anybody recall “Monster,” Schneider’s solo hit from 1984? It was
all over KCGL and KJQ and even today makes appearances on X96-and who could
forget the chorus line, “There’s a monster in my pants”? Told how big the song
is in ultra-con Utah, Schneider cracks, “Yeah the elders of the church called
and said they loved the song and
‘we’re gonna have the [Mormon Tabernacle] Choir put it on their next album.”

 

Pausing for maybe half a beat, he adds his thoughts on the
reason for the season.

 

“Know what? I think people can see through religion… You
don’t need to be religious to be a good person. I left that all that out of my
Xmas songs. Apparently Christ was born in March or something. But it’s really
convenient that they picked [December 25th to celebrate it], ‘cause
Christmas falls on that day.”

 

[Photo Credit: Caitlin Sullivan]

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