Super Jack is a genre-bending artist with music that shares headspace with LCD Soundsystem (and attended the same NJ high school as LCD frontman James Murphy), Gorillaz, Prince, Lou Reed and more. In June he released his sixth full length album since 2019, “Eats The Mind.” Super Jack plays in the New Brunswick basement scene. Our music reporter Bennett Kelly spoke with him about his musical tastes and process, and the Super Jack character, on June 1 at Randy Now’s Man Cave in Hightstown, before his performance there (pictured above).
Bennett Kelly: All right, so, with Super Jack here. First of all, what’s your name?
Super Jack: Well, my name is Jack. My last name is Seda-Schreiber.
BK: Where does the Super Jack name and persona come from?
SJ: Super Jack comes from… Well, I was in a band at one point, and I kind of was doing stuff that was more beat-oriented, and I needed a name for it. And I was working with somebody, producing for them. That track never came out, but I was working with them. And he was like, Yo, you can play all these instruments. You’re Super Jack. And he laughed to himself. And I thought, Okay, that’s a good name. Little did I know he laughed to himself because Super Jack was a weed strain. So I was about to put out my first single and it was kind of too late. And then for about a few years or so, I was like, Okay, my name is Super Jack, and it’s entirely a weed joke. What do I do about this?
And then Kaiser [Kaiser Unique, collaborator] one day came to me and said, You know, your name is “Super” Jack. Why not go out on stage in a mask? And by the time that had happened, I was like four albums in. So suddenly there was this reinvention of who I was, and it became this character. And it’s kind of grown into this big thing that I think will reach somewhat of a conclusive arc for now on “Eats The Mind” [laughs].
BK: And that’s coming out tonight at midnight.
SJ: Yes, indeed.
BK: What is the Watching Eyes community? Is that where the superhero face mask style comes from?
SJ: The Watching Eyes community was, we wanted to amp up the ARG element of Super Jack. ARG arg is like… hang on, I forget the meaning of ARG… The meaning of ARG is, “alternate reality game.” It’s often used for people who want to do something mysterious online. Like a lot of multimedia stuff – YouTube videos that are cryptic, posts that are cryptic, posts on message boards that are cryptic. And ever since my  album “The Lingering,” I’ve kind of done this thing where it’s like I’ve disappeared and haven’t been seen publicly without the mask since then. So I kind of wanted to do this element of like, Where is Jack?
And at first it was just going to be a sort of “Paul is Dead” type joke. But then it kind of evolved into a big thing where I was making video games for Jack and I was hiding codes on the album and codes on the videos. And the Watching Eyes community was like, what if we made it seem like Super Jack hijacked a radio station and these are the broadcasts that they do.
So we made a theme song for it, and the short film has me being interviewed in it. It’s like this big thing. I’m glad you took notice of that [laughs]. Not many people took notice that that was happening. But it was happening.
BK: Yeah you had that single back in March. Was that the intro rip that you were talking about, from the broadcast?
SJ: Yeah. I made the song with a friend and it had the theme “Watching All Around.” And eventually I was, like, Watching Eyes, that could be cool. Like a cult name, as it were. And then what if it’s not a cult but it’s a radio station? And then we make it seem like this is a theme song to the radio station, with the jingle. And then we put it out and there’s Kaiser talking like a DJ on top of it the entire time.
BK: All sort of meta stuff.
SJ: Yeah, meta stuff [laughs]. Yeah. Exact word.
BK: When and where was your first show in New Brunswick?
SJ: My first show at New Brunswick was in November of last year, a month after “Hiding in Plain Sight” came out. And it was at the [showhouse] Grander Canyon. I love the Grander Canyon. I was on the bill with Gabba Ghoul, and Jag One, and Dicqbeats, and Meteor Police. Great bill. It was on Black Friday. And it was just so much fun. I met a lot of cool people and it was just nice to play for a crowd that had such energy like that. And it’s very interesting because I feel like my music doesn’t necessarily fit into the New Brunswick aesthetic, as it were. But it’s nice to be playing in New Brunswick and get a nice reception.
BK: I can see that. There’s a lot of heavy guitar bands in New Brunswick, shredders.
SJ: Yeah. For me, because I was in a punk band for a lot of my teenage years, I kind of, like, trim it down to one heavy guitar song per album, or two and then leave it at that. Kind of just have more freedom to explore whatever my artistic whims are.
BK: For listeners who haven’t heard you yet, how would you describe your act and performance? It’s kind of a one-man performance, but also part collective, and genre-bending, as you write on your site.
SJ: Yeah. Sometimes there’s a band, if people are available to play with me, and if rehearsals can happen and schedules can happen. But for this particular record, and both “Hiding in Plain Sight” and “Eats The Mind” are more electronic records. A lot more drum machines used, a lot more use of repetition and looping. So it made more sense to just kind of do the shows by myself and then bring out guests if I want to bring out guests. Like Kaiser is there every show with me. Occasionally I’ll bring out my friend Záire if he’s around. But yeah, like, guitar, maybe a synthesizer. The tracks, sometimes we’ll do new versions of the songs like we do “Function Commander” and it’s a lot more different than the one on the album.
BK: That’s the one, you did a video for that recently, right?
SJ: Yeah, we did. We did do a video. And that version is very traditional rock, but for the show, since it’s just one man, basically we do a drum machine version, a lot more like an industrial type of thing. We’re doing that one tonight, actually. It’s going to be fun [laughs].
BK: What are some of your other projects and collaborations? Your website lists a lot of other tracks that you’re a producer on.
SJ: Yeah, I mean, Super Jack was a producer name before it was an artist name, and I was kind of doing stuff for Kaiser, doing stuff for Záire. Kaiser produces a lot of his own stuff, too, of course. I just mixed some of the Pillowinde album. I produced for this artist named Kayla Joe who makes great music. I consider a little bit of what I do to be post-punk, but I have a post punkier side project named Slow Transits.
BK: I was listening to them today.
SJ: Yeah, I saw you followed us [laughs]. Yeah. That’s cool. It’s me and a friend from Germany. We just send each other files over, Discord. A lot more of a rockish vibe overall.
BK: Do you produce all your own beats? What’s your process and tools set up for that?
SJ: Most of my stuff is self-produced. Occasionally there are guest musicians and occasionally there’s a song where it’s co-produced with me. But I’m definitely the person who gets together all the elements and makes it a thing. “Hiding in Plain Sight” was mostly all me. “Eats The Mind” is basically fully all me.
And the process, it depends on the song. Usually I have a melodic idea or it’ll be a drum beat or a bass line and I just kind of go from there. Someone who is also from Jersey named James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem, a lot of his music is, it’ll be one thing and it just builds from there and it goes to a giant conclusion. That’s kind of what a lot of my more recent stuff has been doing. We take one element and we kind of see, Okay, how can we enhance this element to make it a full piece?
BK: Yeah. I think you mentioned Gorillaz, too, right?
SJ: Yes. Gorillaz are a big influence in terms of enhancing one element and making a big piece. Lou Reed’s a big influence with his use of drones. Prince, I love Prince, Bowie. Anybody who kind of blurs genre lines, I’m very into that. The Clash do it, when Beck does it.
BK: Your artwork and your merch on your site is all pretty robust, and aesthetically to me, it looks very clean and like classic pop art. Who are your art influences?
SJ: A lot of my art is done by my friend Dotty. I send him the records and we kind of come up with an idea on what it should be. He takes a lot of influence from old Penguin book covers. And pop art is also an influence, of course. And we also look at those old punk 45s with their weird, like, pasted on covers. We love that stuff. That stuff is so cool. In terms of art, that’s definitely an influence. I mean, I’m not an artist, but I definitely love the work of Looney Tunes directors and Ralph Bakshi. Try to get a little bit of that in there, if I can. At least in terms of sound effects [laughs].
BK: We both mentioned Pillowinde. I’m a big fan. Their “Jets to Brunswick” album is just stunning to me.
SJ: Yeah, yeah it’s a great record.
BK: What was your role in helping mix it? And you said you drummed for them previously?
SJ: Yeah, I met Claire [Ruiz] at a kind of noise show at the Grander Canyon. And I saw that Claire was in Pillowinde and that Pillowinde were looking for drummers. So I was just like, Hey, I could drum. And I did a session with them and we had fun. I’m not on the album as a drummer because I’m not really like a rock drummer. I was definitely more so just kind of filling the void until they found another one type thing.
But where I knew I could come in handy was that Claire had all these songs but didn’t know what to do with it. There was a sequence, but it was loose, there was a lot of self-doubt. So I was like, Let me help you mix the things and I’ll help you sequence it a little bit. She mainly did the sequencing herself, but I did a couple things there, and just kind of make sure the songs are fully functioning products, as it were. Add some effects. The outro on “froggy” is a lot of my shenanigans [laughs].
BK: I like that one.
SJ: Yeah, that’s my favorite, actually. I love that one. And the vocoded voice on “beckon the windy pillows,” that’s me. “Pillow…” [sings it]. It was fun working on that record.
BK: Yeah, they’re great. And then today is June 1st, and your latest album drops at midnight. I haven’t heard it yet at the time of this interview. What do you want listeners to know about it? How does it jive with your previous full lengths?
SJ: I would say there’s a lot more of a roller disco influence on this one. A lot of, like, late 70s, early 80s synth funk. Twelve-inches, that sort of stuff. I would say it’s like a roller disco that slowly goes to hell by the end of the record [laughs]. It’s just like, Whoa.
BK: My brother in law likes to roller disco in Flemington area. Or Frenchtown rather.
SJ: Oh, yeah, that one. I don’t know if I’ve been to a Flemington one, but I’ve been to one. It might have actually been South Amboy. South Amboy Roller Magic. We tried to shoot a video there, but they wouldn’t let us [laughs]. They were like, Nah.
BK: And so this is your sixth Super Jack album. In how many years?
SJ: Since 2019. So four years. Over the pandemic, I got very productive.
BK: I’ve seen you at Princeton Porchfest, and now tonight at Randy Now’s Man Cave. Two fairly random gigs, but where else do you play, and how often are you gigging?
SJ: I’ve been gigging, like non-stop since February. There may be a break in August, but we’ll see. Because people like Super Jack I guess, people like booking me. I’m also always looking for shows because it’s just like it’s nice to meet people, nice to meet new acts. I’ve played in Philly a couple of times. I’ve played in New York a bunch of times. I played in Glassboro once. I would love to play Glassboro more. Though it’s a little harder to get in there.
BK: Is that a basement venue?
SJ: It’s a newer basement scene in South Jersey. Glassboro is a college town, it’s at Rowan. And it’s a lot of similarities to New Brunswick, but there’s also a lot of differences. It has its own little flavor or scent. It’s a little less emo-y, for lack of a better word.
BK: Less emo than New Brunswick.
SJ: Yeah. At least from my experience [laughs].
BK: What has the New Brunswick experience been for you? Stable source of gigs, a lot of people to meet, inspiring your musical endeavors, anything like that?
SJ: I feel like musically, I don’t really belong to any sort of scene. But if I had to pick a scene that I felt the most home in, it would probably be New Brunswick. Just because there’s a lot of room for weirdos like me. There’s a Daddy’s Closet [a musician] in the mix. There are noise nights occasionally. And even Pillowinde, Pillowinde occasionally have their moments of, like, psychedelia, that’s a little out there, and I appreciate that. And I appreciate how open people have been to hearing my stuff, and I’m hoping to play there more. I’ve played there three times, not including a couple of times with Pillowinde.
BK: And how did you get this gig, by the way? Did you know who Randy Now was? Did he book you directly or vice versa?
SJ: Well, Randy Now is obviously a legend. I’ve been to his store before. I don’t know if he remembered me. We talked a lot about Devo and The Rutles. A lot of my pins I got from him. Gave me a Devo poster, too. Nice guy. And I know the Bayard Rustin Center [for Social Justice, which sponsored the evening’s show along with Old Hights Brewing next door]. That’s my dad’s organization.
BK: In Princeton?
SJ: Yeah, he runs that. And they were looking for another act and my dad was just like, Hey, I know this guy. And here I am.
BK: What’s next for you this summer and beyond? Busy with shows?
SJ: Doing more shows, and obviously the new album is coming. I’m trying to do some work with Kaiser Unique on his album because we’re both on the same label, Studio Suzuki. Just trying to keep myself busy and figuring out what’s next. I have an idea for the next-next record, but it’s in the early stages, like, figuring out what it is. Because it is something very different at the moment than what I’ve been doing for the last couple of records.
Earlier I said “East The Mind” is kind of a conclusive arc to the character of Super Jack. So we’re going to kind of move on to something else. This year will probably, or at least for the summer, this will be like the last run of the character Super Jack. And then maybe there will be a new Super Jack album in 2024 that has a different premise? Maybe it has a little more guitars on it [laughs].
BK: You do have that nice Telecaster, right?
BK: Gotta bust that out again tonight.
SJ: Yes indeed. Yes indeed.
BK: Are you playing the new stuff tonight? Or were you playing new stuff last month [at Porchfest], too?
SJ: Last time you saw me, we didn’t play that much new stuff. I don’t think we played any new stuff, actually, at Porchfest because it was a hometown gig. I was like, Let’s just do some classics and whatnot.
BK: Did you go to high school there?
SJ: I did not. West Windsor, so about ten minutes away or so. I live in Princeton Junction. So that tells you all you need to know.
BK: The other side of the tracks.
SJ: Yeah, exactly [laughs].
BK: I spent most of my twenties in Princeton, so, it’s a good town.
SJ: Oh, cool. If I may ask, how old are you now?
BK: Thirty-two. I’m old. [Though with interviewee Eric Harrison, that makes me a kid, apparently]. And we’ve reached the end of the line. It’s almost showtime. Is there anything else you would want to add?
SJ: If anything, I appreciate what you do and I want to thank you for asking me to be a part of this. And I hope anyone who’s reading this, something I’ve done in the last interview I did and I feel like I should continue doing, is that I don’t think you should be afraid to be yourself. I think self-expression is very important, and I think a lot of people try to assimilate or change themselves to be liked more or accepted more. You don’t have to do that. Express yourself. You’re you. And that’s beautiful.
BK: Perfect. Thanks, Super Jack.
Super Jack released his sixth full length album “Eats The Mind” on June 2. For more Super Jack, visit his web site, support him on Bandcamp, and find his music on the streaming platforms and social media.
Ben Kelly reports on music for New Brunswick Today. In 2022, he won the first place award for Best Arts & Entertainment Coverage for his coverage of the New Brunswick music scene, from the NJ Society of Professional Journalists.