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Articles Home » 2000 Articles » Supremium - 2000 Interview with Bruce Witkin
Supremium - 2000 Interview with Bruce Witkin
Interview with: Bruce Witkin from Supremium

Written By: Andrew Ellis
Date: 9 October 2000

The spotlight this time turns to a four piece pop band out of L.A, but with a history going down through the years. They are Supremium, masterminded by the talented Bruce Witkin.. They have released their album 'Lucky' on Bruce's own label Popsquad Records. Heart of the Rock's Andrew Ellis delights in some musical pop candy with the very man himself ...

Hi Bruce. Firstly, congratulations with 'Lucky'. The CD has won unanimous critical praise and is one of the best I've heard all year. Did you expect such a reaction when you were writing the album?
Thank you. When the album was done we all thought we'd put something on tape that was good but we didn't expect such great response from the critics. It definitely feels good after having dealt with the bullshit from major labels. To put something out on your own and have people like it is somehow much more rewarding.

As I commented in the review, Supremium manages to create an individual sound, but who are your main musical influences?
If not for Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson I probably would have given up music altogether. The state of music in Miami, where I grew up, was rather bleak. If not for having my father in New York to visit and to find some cool pop music to listen to I would've been stuck listening to Boston, Kansas and Styx.

You have certainly gathered a quality bunch of musicians for Supremium, but how did you all get together to start the band?
Putting a band together when your over 30 is hard. Everyone seems to have alife now that doesn't completely revolve around music. Rob Klonel (drums) and I have been playing together for about five years. We've survived the bad record companies and bad managers and bad musicians and we're still friends. I meet Doug Nahory (keys) about seven years ago, we played for a short time in a band I had but lost contact for about three years. When I started Supremium, we decided that one guitarist (as opposed to two) and keyboards would give the band the sound we wanted so I called information and got his number and here we are again. Coz Canler, as you know, plays with The Romantics. I've known Coz for more than half my life. About two years ago he was in Detroit freezing his ass off while The Romantics were sitting idly waiting to tour. I told him he should come out and write some song's with me. He lives here in Los Angeles full time now. Coz was and still is one of the most influential musicians in my life.

Bruce Witkin - Live at the Viper Room

I believe you are already planning to release the next Supremium CD in early 2001. Give us the scoop on that. Are there many songs written yet?
We've got some stuff in the works. My dream is to get all four members of Supremium out of Los Angeles for about a month to do the 2nd CD. That would be ideal.

Will the same guys from the first record be involved? I know, for example that Coz Canler plays with the Romantics as well as Supremium and you all do various bits of session work.
I guess I answered that question before you asked it! I wouldn't do it without them.

You are the principal songwriter in Supremium. Having done plenty of sessionwork, is this freedom to express yourself something which gives having your own band the edge over the enjoyment of session playing?
Being in a band is the best and the worst job in the world, it can't compare to session work. Doing a session is like having a job that pays well. Depending on the artist you're working with, sometimes the pay is good and sometimes it sucks, it has little to do with the money.

Your live shows are a blast by all accounts. How's the touring been going so far this year, and do you throw any surprises in the mix in terms of cover songs?
We haven't gone out so far this year. It just doesn't pay for us to tour yet. Hopefully, with some more press and another record we could get out on the road and not kill each other. We do some cool cover songs, 'Glad All Over' by The Dave Clarks 5, 'Windy' by The Association, 'Got The Time' by Joe Jackson, 'Mystery Dance' by Elvis Costello and 'She said She said' by The Beatles.

A lot of people may already be familiar with your name as you have toured and recorded with, amongst others, Adam Ant. How did that come about, and what are your best memories of recording and touring with Adam?
I met Adam through my sister-in-law in early 1993. He used to come out and see a band I had at the time. He was just getting ready to get back into the biz and asked me if I'd be interested in having my band back him up at the KROQ Christmas show at the Universal Amphitheater. It was a blast and we got an incredible response. About six months later he asked me to tour with him in preparation for 'The Wonderful' CD. Best memories would have to be recording at Abbey Road Studio's and appearing on The Tonight Show.

I believe your pre-Supremium band, Flux opened for Adam on his 1994 tour - that must have been pretty hard work for you, having to play 2 shows each night!
It was a lot of work but worth every bit of sweat. The funniest part was going on first and having some of the people in the front row ignore you, like they couldn't wait for us to get done, then I would go onstage to play with Adam and they couldn't look me in the eyes.

Going back to Supremium, you released the CD on your own POPSQUAD label. I think the name is excellent, but did frustration with major labels make you decide to set up your own record label?
It wasn't just frustration ... why should some guy in a suit tell me whether I can or cannot put out a CD? They can't stop you, they can only discourage you.

Bruce Witkin - in action..

Does the presence of the Internet make this a much more viable option for bands these days?
Yes - Yes - Yes...

What is the ethos of the label? Tell us about some of the projects you are involved with at the moment.
Pop music. The next CD coming out on Pop Squad is The Teen Machine. It's like T.Rex meets the Partridge Family. I'll be sending you one soon.

What is your opinion on the modern pop/rock scene both in the States and elsewhere?
The real stuff is out there you just have to search for it. The stuff the major labels are putting out is just product.

Lastly Bruce, you have toured the States and Europe, are able to write, record and produce your own records and run your own label. Do you have any other musical ambitions you would like to fulfill?
I would love to do some actual soundtracks, that would be fun. I've done songs here and there for a couple of films but I think scoring a film would be even more challenging.

Well, thanks Bruce for the interview. All the best with the album and record label.
Cheers Andrew. Thanks for the coverage.

(Thanks to Bruce for making the photos available. Check out www.popsquad.com for more information on Supremium and other artists on the Popsquad label.)

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