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Arts & Culture

Gary Sweeney Interviews Hyperbubble

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Gary Sweeney and Hyperbubble, trying to think of ways to rhyme "tonight" with "tonight"


Jeff, you come off as being a little shy in real life. Do your sunglasses have superpowers that turn you into Maniac-Man onstage?

JEFF: [Giggles] Yeah … I like to dress like my synthesizers, in black plastic.

Who writes the lyrics?

JESS: Jeff composes most of the lyrics in long, luxurious bubble baths. I come home to find lyrics on Post-it notes and scribbled on napkins. The only songs I’ve written come out as lullabies for our cats, or each other. I’d like to do more songwriting. I once wrote a song called “Tonite” as a tribute to all of the hit songs that have the word or theme of “tonight” … it would have been an instant hit, Rick Springfield-style, but I misplaced the lyrics. Jeff created the vibe of a “tonight” song in our recent track “In the Movies.”

JEFF: The coolest thing a songwriter can possibly do is rhyme “tonight” with “tonight.”

Your songs address the universal themes of UFO beach parties, robots, teddy bear crime waves and 3-D space kittens. Aside from “I’m in Love with My Clone,” have you ever written a love song?

JESS: Definitely … but there’s usually a dark or comical twist. Like “Top 10 Lullabies” [in which Jess name checks Kenny Loggins, The Captain and Tennille, Peter Cetera, Lionel Richie, Sting, Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka, Michael McDonald, and Gino Vannelli], or “(Your Love is) Non-biodegradable Hazardous Waste Disposal.”

JEFF: There’s a massive pile of love songs out there. It’s well-covered ground. There’s so much other stuff to write about. But that said, “Another Ride” is a love song of sorts. It’s about hitting a bump in a relationship, and then saying, “Forget it. Let’s keep on driving and see what’s up the road.” “Synesthesia” is a love song to our synthesizers, and, of course, “Leon” is a love song to a cat!

The lyric department is where Hyperbubble is the most misunderstood. Maybe that’s on purpose. We like to use pop songs as a subversive tool, sort of a musical Trojan horse. Most of our lyrics are actually social commentary—More Kinks and Crass than Buggles and B-52’s. The meaning of the songs isn’t what they appear to be about on the surface. In fact, sometimes the meaning is the exact opposite of what they lyrics are saying.

Quite a bit of the early Hyperbubble songs were the result of [the Iraq Wars]. “Airbrushed Alibis” is about cover-ups (“What you are, so hard to see through Photoshop conspiracy”). Likewise, “Solid Pop” is about Bush using non-existent WMDs as a justification for going to war (“If you look too close, what will you find? You got a lot of nerve to ask the reason why.”) “Candy Apple Daydreams” is partly about Election Day (“Feels like a new beginning, this melody”). “Non Biodegradable Hazardous Waste Disposal” was inspired by the Patriot Act (“Another lonely cybernetic spy—You got a lovely pair of x ray eyes—Inside, outside, CIA”). It’s basically about government surveillance as a form of kinky voyeurism. My grandmother was a secretary in J. Edgar Hoover’s office, so I got to hear a few things first-hand that made me into a very skeptical boy.

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