Super Whatevr might be one of OC’s newest bands, but they’re playing songs that were written before some of the area’s more established bands were even a thought.
“I was living in Northern California and was in my previous band, and we added a drummer who was a songwriter,” says Skyler McKee, singer, guitarist, and driving force behind Super Whatevr. “The lead singer in the band said the new drummer was going to contribute more to the songwriting, so I wrote the songs that are now on the new EP out of jealousy.”
But that was a few years and a whole different band ago. McKee’s since moved back down to Huntington Beach, where a friend encouraged him to record those older tunes. Eventually, he teamed up with guitarist Robert Rutan, bassist Thomas Waale and drummer Luke Mensink to form a poppy indie quartet that channels everything McKee’s wanted to write in his previous groups.
“I was raised in a hardcore scene, and my last project I was in was like strictly pop music,” McKee says. “We were working in my last band with Big Sean’s producer and HelloGoodbye’s manager, so I had a ton of pop influence. It was kind of a melding of my upbringing and my past few years of learning how to write a more formatted song.”
Although you might not initially notice the hardcore and pop elements of Super Whatevr’s upbeat vibe, further listens reveal the kind of dark memorable lyrics you’d expect out of the punk and hardcore scenes. The band’s catchy melodies and musical compositions might not be cut exactly for Top 40, but they’re polished enough to see where McKee’s pop experience shines through once you’re looking for it. Even their recent Good Luck EP’s cover art matches Super Whatevr’s unique combination of emotions.
“Because this is the first band that I am singing in and being the frontman, I have a lot more of a say in terms of the artwork and direction and all of that stuff,” McKee says. “I reached out to my favorite artists – who goes by the name Kazland – and asked him if he’d be willing to do some concept art for a random band from Orange County. He listened to the EP and said he really liked the music, so he was on board. I told him to paint whatever he was feeling when he listened to the music, and that’s what we got.”
As with any up-and-coming musician, McKee’s seen his fair share of ups and downs over his years of performing for a living, After initially feeling like he had a home in NorCal’s hardcore and punk scene, it quickly became apparent to the young guitarist that it wasn’t where he wanted to be long-term. A handful of distinctively not-hardcore songs later, his winding road throughout California has brought McKee to a certain level of peace and comfort in one of the state’s most diverse music scenes.
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“When I wrote these songs, I actually got made fun of by the local punk community in Northern California,” McKee says. “When I moved to Hollywood, no one wanted to hear me because they were doing their own thing. But when I moved to Orange County – specifically Huntington Beach – there’s actually a pretty big scene of people trying to write more alternative music. We were received really well.”
These days, McKee isn’t too concerned with fitting into a specific scene or whether other bands think his music is “cool.” Much like anyone else who’s sat on an EP’s worth of songs for years, the newfound vocalist is just happy to get his words out into the open for others to hear.
“It’s been really therapeutic because I wrote these songs in a time when I was struggling, and they helped me cope with what I was going through,” McKee says. “Now that I’m past all of that, it feels really good because if people listen to what I’m trying to say, they’ll be able to help people going through similar situations.”
Super Whatevr perform every Monday in September at The Wayfarer starting September 12. 8:30 p.m. Free show. For full info, click here.