In June, Chapel Hill’s reigning indie-rock pioneers and founder of Merge Records, Superchunk, raised $26,000 for Planned Parenthood with a limited-edition 7-inch single and an online art auction.
Last week, they did it again with the release of another single – “Break the Glass” – along with a cover of N.C. contemporaries Corrosion of Conformity’s “Mad World”; all proceeds from both are going to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’ll also raise money for SPLC at an art auction in December.
“It seems especially important now that the government is rolling back everyone’s civil rights,” says the band’s frontman, Mac McCaughan.
Although McCaughan has played Snug Harbor as a solo act in recent years, Friday marks his group’s first Charlotte appearance in more than 15 years – its last being in Tremont Music Hall’s Casbah in 2001.
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Superchunk rarely played live from 2002 to 2010, focusing instead on side projects and its Grammy-winning record label; bassist and Merge co-founder Laura Balance also was experiencing hearing problems that continue to keep her off the road (although she still appears on Superchunk recordings). The group released its latest album, “I Hate Music,” in 2013 and has been reissuing its catalog on vinyl.
But it’s hard to ignore the fragile political landscape and mounting societal problems as an artist and a business owner.
“We’re (not) suggesting policy platforms. It’s not as dry as that,” says McCaughan. “It’s more reflecting on the kind of mental state you can get into living in the current political climate, and how you deal with that and go about your day and your life, and take the kids to school, and make dinner, and do the things you do while you feel like everything is on fire.”
McCaughan continues: “It’s easy to feel helpless when the people in power are doing what they want seemingly with no consequences, despite the fact that what they’re doing goes against a democratic society. If you can take what your job is or what you’re good at and do something, it’s important for your own sanity.”
Superchunk isn’t doing it alone, though. They invited peers to contribute artwork to the December fundraiser they’re planning; artists include Bill Thelen, former curator of the Raleigh gallery and collective LUMP, NYC-based painter Mira Dancy, Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, Canadian artist Marcel Dzama, whose done album covers and video art for Beck, Bob Dylan, and They Might Be Giants, and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
They’ll also auction off colored pressings of the 7-inch single. The art is the same size as the unfolded 7-inch sleeves Superchunk originally released with its singles. Bidding begins Dec. 1.
“As a songwriter, it’s hard to ignore what’s going on and not address it,” McCaughan adds. “As a band that can put out a record to raise money for something good, it seems important.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
Details: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com