Q&A: Super Mash Bros.

Marshall Cohen

Los Angeles twenty-somethings Dick Fink, Nick Fenmore and Ethan Dawes are better known as the Super Mash Bros., a mashup trio who mixes tracks from yesteryear and yesterday to provide sliced-and-diced up party beats. The 2010 Dillo Day veterans released their third album Mile(y) High Club earlier this month. Fink and Fenmore took some time away from touring to speak with The Current about Dillo Day, the mashup process and plans for the future.

The Current: You released your debut album in 2008 and quickly followed it up with another release the next year. But after that, Super Mash Bros. dropped off the grid with new music. What has been keeping the group busy?

Dick Fink: It’s been a lot of touring, to be frank. And it’s really hard to sit down and get into the creative flow of things when every other moment, you have to pack all your stuff up and go fly somewhere across the country to play a show. So, it’s really true that success is a double-edged sword, in that regard.

The Current: You guys came to Northwestern’s Dillo Day in 2010. Last year, fellow mashup artist Girl Talk performed for a sold-out Northwestern crowd in Chicago. Why do you think the mashup genre is especially popular among college students?

DF: Dillo Day was great, it was one of the best shows we’ve played, I felt. I love it because it was a beautiful day out on the lake. The crowd was loud and everyone was loving it. I think opening for Nelly is like everyone’s dream. College students are part of a generation that has been able to listen to music from basically any time period that they care to hear. Mashups cater to that desire and allow you to listen to it all at the same time.

Nick Fenmore: I think its popularity is due largely to the fact that it breaks down the barriers of a genre. At the end of the day, our job is to bring together sounds and tastes of all kinds into one cohesive, energetic and fun idea. We really strive to reach to all ends of the musical spectrum, so that any listener – including my dad, who may be our biggest fan – can relate and enjoy.

The Current: What is the best part about performing for college students?

DF: When you are a college student, working all week and busting your ass off taking tests and writing papers, the weekend is your release valve. College students just like to – and know how to – have the best time. Everyone there is going to be having a great time and they can temporarily leave all their issues behind and let go. And they’re hugely energetic, too.

The Current: Critics laud your mashups because of their sampling variety – ranging from the “Rugrats” theme song to Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” How do you select the samples for your mashups and how many samples are in an average track?

DF: There’s probably a good 15 or maybe even 20 samples in every single track. At the end of the day, that curation process of picking those tracks is the hardest part. It is a lot of fitting and trying to find things that will sound good. Sometimes you put something together and realize that it doesn’t work. You have to repeat that process over and over – there’s really no magic formula.

The Current: How do you guys come up with the creative, almost nonsensical titles for your songs?

DF: Truly, all we do is just sit together in a room, or have a shared Google doc, and just type stuff up – whatever really comes to mind. We’re all kind of funny guys and we just want to have a good time with the titles. Some of them have stories behind them but not all of them. There’s no process; we relay just trying to be nonsensical and we get away with it pretty well.

The Current: How are your activities on social media lately?

DF: We are the ones on Twitter and Facebook. When kids ask us things like, “yo, what’s that sample at 1:15 in this track,” I’m the one telling them what it is. And it feels really nice to go and actually respond to questions, comments and complaints about the album. It’s really just cool to see that people are listening and that people care.

The Current: How have the Super Mash Bros. grown over the years?

DF: The first album was really made for us and our friends. But by the third album, we realized that we actually have an audience and people who actually listen and care. That made us want to put as much time and effort as we could into making it as perfect as we could. We’ve also learned more on the production side – a lot of really subtle things that we took the time to change about to make sure the entire mashup sounds right. The devil is in the detail when it comes to making these mashups.

NF: We’ve definitely learned a lot more about the technical process of creating our music. I think most would say it’s very apparent that there is a significant difference in the mastery of technique between our first and third albums.

The Current: What are your plans for the future?

NF: On our most recent release, we really experimented and pushed ourselves to add a lot more original content. We layered our own basses, drums and synths over tracks to create what we almost would call our own remix as opposed to simply a mashup. I think this is definitely a direction we’re considering moving in, hopefully, one day releasing Super Mash Bros. remixes instead of just mashups.

DF: I hope we come around Chicago some time soon. The plan is to go on tour, see the world and see the country. Hopefully, make a new mix as soon as we can and just keep it going.

– Marshall Cohen