Mac McCaughan Explains How Superchunk Has Remained An Indie Rock Institution For Nearly 30 Years

Cultural Critic
12.11.17

Lissa Gotwals

You can’t talk about the history of American indie rock without mentioning the name Mac McCaughan. As the leader of Superchunk, McCaughan has helped to shepherd one of the most respected and consistent bands in underground rock for nearly 30 years. Superchunk is the rare band where a neophyte can pick practically any album as an entry point — early ’90s records like No Pocky For Kitty and Foolish are much beloved examples of the band’s hooky pop-punk, but later efforts like Majesty Shredding and I Hate Music are just as worthy. Even as trends come and go and the music scene changes dramatically around them, Superchunk has never wavered from the righteous path of melodic, honest, and scrappy rock and roll.

McCaughan is also a seminal figure because he’s the co-founder, with his bandmate Laura Ballance, of Merge Records, one of the greatest indie labels ever, which has put out classic records by Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields, The Mountain Goats, and Arcade Fire.

In February, Superchunk will release yet another strong album, What A Time To Be Alive, that addresses current events with a fury that recalls McCaughan’s roots in ’80s hardcore. In the latest episode of the Celebration Rock podcast, I spoke with McCaughan about the new album, the history of Superchunk, and whether the Internet ruined indie rock.

If you like what you hear, please subscribe to Celebration Rock on iTunes, Audioboom, or Stitcher, and listen above.

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