Despite its recent conception, new band Raygun Superstar has already made a splash in the local music scene, playing several venues including Ruby Deluxe and two Hopscotch day parties at Boxcar.
The group describes itself as high-energy pop-rock with a dark side.
“It’s danceable, but still rock,” said guitarist Jack O'Brien, who graduated from NC State in May 2021 with a degree in anthropology. “A little edgy with a bit of a darker side.”
The group has six members: Alec O’Brien on lead vocals, Jack O’Brien and Andrew Barsody on guitars, Alex Shoop on drums, Jeremy Shoop on keys and Marshall Farr on bass.
Farr, who is also an NC State alum, met Barsody when they both worked at Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street. The two hit it off and started playing music together. Barsody and Jack O’Brien had played together on another project before starting Raygun Superstar.
“None of us were in a band together,” Jack O’Brien said. “We all kind of knew each other and had jammed together, and then in May we all kind of got together and decided to actually have a band. Jeremy and Alex were brothers, and me and Alec were brothers, so it was kind of easy to fill out.”
One of the initial attracting forces that pulled the group together was a mutual love for Young the Giant.
“We all have a lot of overlap but also a lot of variations of bands we like,” Barsody said. “But, Young the Giant, that's the kind of stuff that I'd always wanted to do and we all agreed on.”
Other musical inspirations include The Neighbourhood, Cage the Elephant and The Strokes. The band name itself actually came from a song by the Charlotte-based group The Business People, which was integral to Barsody’s early understanding of the local music scene.
Though all the members had played music individually or jammed informally for a long time, they were attracted to the idea of being able to regularly perform live and create music with a group. Having loved attending live performances themselves, the members wanted to create an energetic atmosphere through their own performances. They wanted to make music the band would want to listen to. The band has found that its creativity thrives in a collaborative environment.
“When you write your music alone, it stagnates after a while, and you run out of ideas for how things should sound,” Barsody said. “But being in a band, you would have five other creative people with you who can come up with different parts and change what you're doing and just make it sound cool or interesting.”
Raygun Superstar has also found a great deal of creative strength in the members’ differences as far as what they pay most attention to in music. While Alec O’Brien is very lyrically-oriented, for example, while Barsody pays most attention to the different interactions in instrumentation. These perspectives work together to produce a balanced and full sound.
The band is in the process of recording its first EP for release later this year. Having primarily performed for live audiences, the recording process has been a learning experience for all of them. One of the biggest lessons thus far is within the surprising difficulty of metronomes, counting and patience in the studio.
“We've only been playing live, and to convert that into recording, we don't want to lose the live aspect of it, but also there's certain things that sound better live that wouldn't necessarily translate over well to recording,” Barsody said. “It’s been a learning process.”
It has also been an incredibly rewarding experience, however. The members have found great value in watching their music solidify into something they can share with others to enjoy alongside them.
“I think it was just cool seeing a project start to finish and then also putting together a show and seeing people come out, seeing our friends and meeting new friends,” Jack O’Brien said.
In the future, all of the band members are looking forward to making Raygun Superstar an even more central part of their lives. Their next goal is to buy a van in order to broaden their tour reach out of state.
Check out a demo track of "Bloom" off of Raygun Superstar’s upcoming EP.
Their next gig is a 21+ show at The Pour House Nov. 2 with Nordista Freeze.