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Superchunk drummer pulling double duty at DeLuna Fest

12:46 AM, Aug. 10, 2012
Iconic indie rock band Superchunk is one of more than 60 acts performing at DeLuna Fest, set for Sept. 21-23 on Pensacola Beach. / Special to


Jon Wurster probably doesn’t sleep that much. The 45-year-old drummer is a full-time member of at least three bands, including Superchunk and The Mountain Goats, and makes frequent appearances on the New Jersey radio show “The Best Show on WFMU.”

Wurster will play with Superchunk and Bob Mould, who is playing the Sugar album “Copper Blue” in its entirety, on Sunday. In a phone interview from Chapel Hill, N.C., he talked about his experiences playing shows in Pensacola and what he’s doing to prepare for his grueling tours.

Q: How did you end up getting in a video promoting the festival?

A: I’ve known Gus (Brandt, one of the festival’s organizers) since my first Superchunk tour, which was in 1991. He put on a show of ours at a place called Apple Annie’s (in Seville Quarter).

He asked me to do a little video for it. I wrote a little script about a minute before I did it.

Q. Is that the last time you’ve been to Pensacola?

A: One other time we played Sluggo’s in 1997. I’m pretty sure it was Superchunk, Eric Bachmann and ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.

Listen to some of our favorite Superchunk tracks

Q: Anything weird you remember about this area?

A: Do you remember those Priceline commercials where a band backs William Shatner? One of my friends directed that series of commercials and asked if I would be the drummer in it, but it was shooting the day we played Sluggo’s, so I couldn’t do it. So my memory of Sluggo’s is tied in with this semi-lucrative venture that I didn’t get to partake in. (laughs)

Q: You’re playing in two bands at the festival. In one, you’re a full-fledged member, and in one you’re a sideman. Is there a difference you have to play with both of those?

A: No, I approach them the same way. I try to give 100 percent for both. They’re both really high-energy, so that’s the only tricky part about it. I’ve got a couple of these shows coming up this fall which are Superchunk shows and Bob Mould back to back at the same festival.

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I’m in training all summer to get ready for them. I do yoga pretty much every day and and I joined a gym, so I go there every day.

Q: This year you have records with Bob Mould and The Mountain Goats. Superchunk has a single and you have the radio show. What else do you have time for?

A: I just played on a record (for) Jason Narducy, the bass player in the Bob Mould Band. I did a solo record of his in L.A. It’s him, me and Britt Daniel (of Spoon) plays bass on it. It’s called "Spl:t S:ngle."

So there’s that, and I play on a few songs on this new Ben Gibbard record that’s coming up.

Q: How did you end up playing with Charlie Daniels?

A: That was a commercial for UPS I appeared in (in 2002). A friend of my brother’s was directing this commercial and they needed a drummer and a bassist to back Charlie Daniels. A friend who was working on the commercial recommended me.

We shot it out in Los Angeles. It was me and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D. He played standup bass backing Charlie Daniels on a kind of reworded “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

It was fun, it was cool to meet him and he was really cool. I asked him about playing with Bob Dylan.

Q: Is that the most out-of-left-field project that you’ve done?

A: Well, Katy Perry, that was an interesting one.

I was living up in Brooklyn (in 2009), and a friend of mine said that he was trying to put together a little drum section to play with Katy Perry at the MTV (Video Music Awards). And I said, "I have to do this."

At this point, I knew of this song “I Kissed a Girl,” but that was all I knew about her. I never had actually heard the song. So I went to this floor rehearsal space in Manhattan, and there were four guys beating on tympani and bass drums to the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen.

It was Katy Perry and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, they were the main people in this thing. It was the opening song.

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I think that was the night she met Russell Brand, actually. She was nice though.

Q: Have you been able to (former Sugar drummer) Malcolm Travis about your drum parts? (Bob Mould's set will find Mould and his band performing Sugar's classic "Copper Blue" album.)

A: No, we didn’t talk about it or anything. Bob is really open to us doing whatever. I’ve been playing with him since 2008 and he’s always said, “you know, you don’t have to play like the record. Just do what feels right to you.”

With the “Copper Blue” stuff, there weren’t any kind of instructions. I listened to the record a lot and I kind of try to do what’s on there and what people would expect in terms of a classic fill and doing what I would like to do.

Q: Does that kind of go for the Hüsker Dü stuff?

A: Yeah, I try to be true to Hüsker Dü songs. There are those classic rolls in that song “Makes No Sense at All” that you can’t not do. I was a huge Hüsker Dü fan and I know what I would like to hear in those songs.

Q: Do you ever take off time? Do you rest at all, or is it the life of a full-time musician?

A: I’ve been sort of somehow on this world loop since February of 2008. One thing just leads to another, I’ve just been traveling and recording for four years straight now.

Q: Any plans for Superchunk to record again?

A: Our goal is to have a record out in 2013 some point. We have tentative plans to record a few songs at the end of August.

Q: What are you listening to?

A: I still like that Wild Flag record a lot. But I listen to a lot of books on tape. I’m listening to one about how the subconscious works. It’s how our subconscious and unconscious really dictates our behavior and how we operate. Things we aren’t really aware of are what drives us most.

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