Chris Alvy ranks among the most accomplished musicians South Florida has to offer. Born in Cuba, he’s been making music on his own and with others for the better part of the past twenty years, most recently with his band The Super Fuzz. The group – Alvy on vocals and guitar, bassist Darrell Killingsworth, drummer Todd Taulbee and guitarist Eric Sanchez – released the first Super Fuzz album Art Noise in 2012, and recently announced the release of a new effort entitled Super Famous, slated for May 19. Like its predecessor, it’s a high energy set of songs, infused with catchy refrains, effusive harmonies, relentless riffing and a penchant for power pop as strong as any outfit before or since.
Alvy’s trajectory is unusual to say the least. He began his career as a professional baseball player, initially with the Chicago White Sox, then with the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers, and the Houston Astros. He played various positions – first base, third base and left field – before an injury sidelined him permanently and turned his attention to making music.
These days, he looks back on that part of his life with fondness, but insists he has no regrets about what could have or should have been had he stayed in the major leagues. “My passion was always music, so sports was never my number one love,” Alvy insists. “I am very grateful to have gone through all those intense experiences you go through in such a competitive business, and a lot of those skills I learned in dealing with stress and competition I constantly apply to the music business. Believe it or not, the sports and music business are very similar in many ways.”
Alvy should know. He’s made a decent chunk of change writing songs for and performing with an impressive roster of big names – Chayanne, Maria, Conchita Alonso, Alto Reed of Bob Seeger’s Silver Bullet Band and others. He’s been signed as a staff writer to Sony ATV Publishing company since 2011 which has given him inroads into the Latin music scene. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Alvy’s commitment to power pop is unequivocal, as the two Super Fuzz albums attest. Echoes of Jellyfish, Squeeze, Redd Kross, the Raspberries, and other pop pundits are clearly evident throughout. There’s little doubt however that Alvy and company bring plenty of their own effusive enthusiasm to their efforts, ensuring they labor in no one else’s shadows.
We recently sat down with Mr. Alvy and asked him to share some facts about Super Fuzz.
New Times: How did you come to write the songs for this new album?
Chris Alvy: About a year into the promotion of our previous album, I started getting the itch to start writing again for the band. I write for different genres and artists, but I felt it was time to start focusing on the rock material once again. I knew I wanted to do another Super Fuzz record since we had such a blast recording and performing the first one. I wrote around 20 to 25 new songs in a four to six month period and started demoing the tunes in my studio and sending them to the band and our manager for feedback. In that batch of songs there were some that were mellow acoustic tunes as well as the more hard edge, upbeat stuff we are known for. In the end, we ended up keeping and recording thirteen new songs and we condensed the record to ten. The leftover material will eventually get mixed and released as The Super Fuzz singles and the mellower tunes will also eventually get released, although most likely not as a Super Fuzz project.
So what inspired these songs?
This creative period was very exciting for me because it seemed the tunes were naturally flowing out of me. I was also very happy with the lyrical angles I was coming up with, many having to do with personal emotions and feelings and band experiences, not to mention certain characters in our circle of friends. Many songs are born by just paying attention to what's around you, and with this record I made it a point to pay attention. The whole process was very organic, smooth and effortless. Writing can often be very painful, but this batch of songs was a lot of fun to write and see come to life in the studio.
So what's in store now? More touring?
The goal was always to make the best record we could make. We managed to accomplish that after over a year of working on it. Our next step is to get ready for our CD release party on May 9 at Will Call Miami. From there on out, the goal is to perform and get this music out to people in as many places we are able to travel to. We’re planning on setting up showcases in Nashville., New York and L.A. at some point this year. We are also very excited to have signed with a licensing company Jingle Punks in New York (who named The Super Fuzz as one of their top signings) and are looking to get some placements in TV and movies with this new material.
How does South Florida stack up when it comes to embracing a band like yours? Do you get a good reception down here?
I think Miami has always been tricky for a rock band like us, or for any rock band for that matter. I've never been one to use excuses. I do think that we are respected here, and many people in the scene know who we are, what we do and what we stand for. Venues are becoming increasingly scarce for original bands, but we plan on touring and playing to new receptive crowds that dig live music. Miami is a little bit limited, but we will deal with it. We have some cool fans and friends here, so we will still be doing shows around town here and there, but we will also try to do short tours as often as we can to expose the music to other scenes.
How do think you have you grown, advanced, and progressed as an artist from your early solo days until now?
I would like to think I’ve grown in every aspect of my music career. I feel I am a better songwriter, singer, musician and performer. I think the key is maturity in dealing with the business of music. I’ve learned that this is not only what I do, but also what I love to do. When you’re young, you sometimes get caught up in trying to be the rock star. After many successes and many failures you realize you gotta do it, because it is who you are. I’m a professional musician. That is what I do. I feel I am exactly where I need to be and I am very comfortable with it. I am one of the few and lucky ones who can actually do this for a living, not as a side project or hobby. I've been living off music for over 15 years now. That to me is success. I am already living my dream and I am very blessed.
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You’re in the process of planning a video, correct?
Yes, we're tackling our first video for the album for the track, “Lover's Homicide.” We’re seeking the help of fans, readers, and broken hearted victims out there who may want to deliver a message to their ex. Just write a few words on a piece of paper or a white card telling that not-so-special-someone how you really feel. Shoot it on your iPhone and send it to us. All the details are on our website at thesuperfuzzmusic.com. So if you're really pissed off and you want your feelings to be heard, I can't think of a better way to do it. Just don't use anyone's name. We don't want an angry mob at our next show or at our front door! But if they do come, please bring beer.
So have you tossed the baseball around lately?
I have not played or thrown a baseball in many years, so my skills are extremely rusty to say the least.
The CD release party for Super Famous takes place at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Will Call Miami, 700 Ne 2nd Ave, Miami. No cover charge. Call 305-577-5900 or visit thesuperfuzzmusic.com.