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Fred Schneider's The Superions

Fruitcake and Other Delights: The B-52s’ Fred Schneider gets festive with The Superions.


“I’ve been singing ‘Crummy Christmas Tree’ at Christmas parties for, I don’t know … many years now,” says Fred Schneider of The Superions, who also happens to be Fred Schneider of the B-52s. “I’d get everyone to sing a cappella.”

The Superions is Schneider’s new synth-pop trio, and “Crummy Christmas Tree” is one of 11 holiday gems on the band’s new album Destination … Christmas! “Nutty” Christmas and Halloween songs were an early influence on the vocalist, and “I’ve just been wanting to do this for the past 10 years or more,” he says. When he met Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall at Orlando’s legendary record store Rock & Roll Heaven, he’d found the perfect partners.

The first song they wrote was festive, although not Christmas-y. “They had a track they’d put together and asked me to put words to it,” says Schneider. The song became “Totally Nude Island,” and the Christmas idea actually popped up when Schneider was supposed to be writing songs for The Superions’ first “regular” album. “I was coming up with all these [Christmas-themed] lyrics, so we decided we’d do a Christmas album.” The trio cranked out nine songs in 11 days, “one of which was a Halloween song.”

To call Destination… Christmas! infectiously fun would insult the intelligence of anyone who’s heard the B-52s. Strictly speaking, those qualities are expected—inevitable—in anything Schneider does. “Fruitcake,” though, is (rather ironically, considering its namesake) delicious hilarity, with Schneider reciting the recipe in his famous talky sprechgesang vocal style over an irresistible bass line. But that’s not to take anything away from the bloody story of “Teddy and Betty Yeti,” the lusty, innuendo-heavy “Jingle Those Bells” or the mindlessly appealing “Santa’s Disco.”

There’s another theme tying these songs together (perhaps you’ve noticed?): Sex. Double-entendres and innuendo run rampant in Schneider’s lyrics, no matter the project—but in his solo work, it’s a little more noticeable. Anybody recall “Monster,” Schneider’s solo hit from 1984? Who could forget the chorus line, “There’s a monster in my pants?” Told how big the song is in ultra-conservative Utah, Schneider cracks, “Yeah, the elders of the church called and said they loved the song, and [said] ‘We’re gonna have the [Mormon Tabernacle] Choir put it on their next album.’”

Pausing for maybe half a beat, he adds his thoughts on the reason for the season.

“Know what? I think people can see through religion. … You don’t need to be religious to be a good person. I left all that out of my Xmas songs. Apparently, Christ was born in March or something. But it’s really convenient that they picked [Dec. 25 to celebrate it], ’cause Christmas falls on that day.”

Now That’s What I Call Alternative Xmas Music, 2010
A heapin’ helpin’ of the stuff you won’t hear in stores or even on the radio—and may better express your sentiments this holiday season.

Asylum Street Spankers “12.25.61”
Wammo, one of the songwriters in truly acoustic, amplification-averse old-time-music torchbearers Asylum Street Spankers, sings the blues of being born on Christmas. “Getting ripped off on half the presents” sucks, sez Wammo, but so does getting asked about it every year. “So lame/ but that’s the game/ always the same/ you wanna give me something?/ give blood in my name/ on Christmas Day.”
Chubbies “There’s Nothing I Want More for Christmas This Year”
My copy of Happy Birthday Baby Jesus Vol. I isn’t the greatest, so I can only guess that this song is about an ex-lover who’s good in the sack but otherwise a jerk. And despite this, our heroine still wants something from him. Greatest opening line ever—“Like baby Jesus/ in the manger/ you lie so easy, yeah”—and a wistful, anthemic chorus.
Edward Schrieber “I’m Dreaming of a White Jesus”
“… even though he was from the Middle East.” This is from Have Yourself a Merry Little Black Mass, an album of heavy metal-meets-lounge music Christmas songs either by a band called Hail Santa! or this guy. Other than the blog where I found this, Spotlight Music, I can find only one other reference online—a YouTube video for the song “Deck the Malls.” That’s a pity, ’cause once you get past the intentionally crappy vocals and weird stylistic mating, this is comedy gold.