JOPLIN, Mo. —
Water is more than a band name for Clyde Hargrove, the guitarist of Super Water Sympathy. It's a songwriting inspiration, a symbol of a music genre, a place of bonding.
Literally. The members of the band often write songs while camping near a river or lake.
"The peacefulness is inspiring," Hargrove said. "We try to transfer that into our songs, that consistent flow of energy."
The band is pretty productive when next to water. In addition to writing songs for their two albums, band members have also written songs for Warner/Chappell Music since August, one of which was performed by rapper B.o.B.
The band will perform its own songs tonight at Blackthorn Pizza and Pub. Guitarist Hargrove, bassist Billy Hargrove, drummer Ryan Robinson, keyboardist Jason Mills and singer Ansley Hughes will perform songs from their two albums in a genre the band calls "water pop."
Hughes calls it pop with an ambient sound -- delayed reverb sounds are mixed with precise rhythms.
It's a style of music they have developed ever since they formed in 2010. Meeting at Louisiana State University, the band jelled quickly and has progressed in the music business fairly quickly:
- The band recently completed a leg of the Warped Tour, sponsored by Vans, and played at Blackthorn in March.
- Its music was featured in the MTV reality show "Caged," which aired in January.
- Its second album, to be released in spring of 2013, was produced by Cam Blackwood, who has worked with Florence + the Machine, Morrissey and Coldplay. It was recorded in London, where the band worked with Blackwood.
- The band already has a full slate of appearances booked to August of next year.
"We didn't expect all this at all," Hargrove said. "We have a manager and booker now. It's really cool seeing this happen, where we went from a little band on Cleveland Street to developing a small business."
Fast pace, strong control
Hargrove said the band started as a hobby. He worked as a journalist, writing obituaries and serving as a reserve corpsman in the U.S. Marines. Billy Hargrove, his brother, was an architect and Mills was a computer programmer.
Hughes, the youngest member of the band, joined the band right out of high school, Hargrove said.
"She hasn't had the experience of the 9 to 5 grind yet," he said.
Started as a hobby, the band played assorted locations around the Shreveport area. "Vesper Belle," its first album, debuted in 2011.
But the band played the right shows at the right times and got some good leads, Hargrove said. The leads were so go that they could quit their day jobs and work full time, between writing for Warner/Chappell and touring.
Now the band divides its time between writing for themselves and others, and also hitting the road for shows. Writing for others gives them a chance to control their own destiny, Hargrove said.
"We're going through the inside of the industry to build a repertoire of ourselves," Hargrove said. "Through the publishing side, it gives us financial independence as a band. Publishing puts gas in the tank. It takes off the pressure, and allows us to do things we wouldn't be able to do."
The band puts on different creative caps when writing songs meant for pop radio, however. When band members pursue their water-pop sound for their own stuff, the songs are meant for a wider audience and have different rules.
"Writing for the pop world is not a deep world," Hargrove said. "The songs are pretty surface and straight-forward, where the songs for Super ... we don't have to adhere to a certain type of vernacular or predictability. When you write for a pop artist like Rihanna or Katy Perry, you have to write a certain way."
The songs for their next album were written on the road, by the river, Hargrove said. Getting the chance to work with Blackwood helped band members further develop those songs, however.
Hargrove said Blackwood helped bring a different sound to those songs. The effort produced 12 songs that Hargrove can't wait to release to the world -- the first one, "Uh Oh," has been released on YouTube and the band's social networks.
"He made us sound more accessible, in terms of capturing our sound where it could appeal to the masses more easily," Hargrove said. "We have 12 songs, and we're very happy with them. We can't wait to release them."
Until that release, the band will keep touring and writing. After the Joplin show, the band will play the last two shows of its 2012 schedule, and hopefully book more like it.
"We love little venues like that," Hargrove said. "Towns like Joplin are probably our favorite places to play. They always have better hospitality, and that makes us want to come back."
Want to go?
Super Water Sympathy and Of Course Not will perform at 10 p.m. today at Blackthorn Pizza and Pub. Tickets: $5. Details: 417-623-2485.