Inside the electrifying satire of SUPEREGO’s long-awaited debut: “We’ve rediscovered an identity as a group”

NME talks to the Fremantle collective about their debut album ‘Who Are You Hiding From’, satirical single ‘Chrome Face’ and protest music in Australia

SUPEREGO are, in some ways, the quintessential Perth band. An eclectic mishmash of producers, rappers, multi-instrumentalists, vocalists and mates, they are the naturally occurring jambalaya cooked up by a small scene packed with diverse talent. In them, you can see the intersection of local influences: jazzy WAAPA instrumentalist virtuosity, big-feeling confessional lyricism, the hyperactive anger of the city’s punk and DIY scene and the party-time beats of our beachside raves.

Think of them as Digable Planets by way of Fremantle’s public school system: Their music feels unabashedly ‘Perthian’ while simultaneously channelling golden-era hip-hop, Nujabes-esque beats, and the experimental digressions of Soundcloud rappers/producers of the past decade.

Live, their energy can best be described as beyond stoked. Packed into Fremantle’s Mill’s Records a few months ago for the launch of ‘Chrome Face,’ the bombastic single from their debut album ‘Who Are You Hiding From,’ NME took in a performance that felt ready to splinter the old record shop’s creaking floorboards. It was a characteristically blistering show for the five-piece, who regularly blast holes in whatever it is you thought this scene’s limitations were, while making you feel like you could walk outside and lift an idling police car over your head.


It was also an appropriate way to launch ‘Chrome Face’, a riotous “oi, we’re back” from a group whose momentum was halted by the pandemic and a brutal border lockdown. Its titular character is a metallic tulpa embodying the greed and crookedness of Western Australia’s decades-long mining boom, played in the music video by SUPEREGO’s producer/drummer/vocalist Rhys Hussey.

Chrome Face “owns multiple houses and keeps them vacant,” Hussey says. “He loves a dollar and thinks he’s earned every cent of his. He’s a bit of a wanker. I feel like he’s kinda racist, sexist, doesn’t like change. Kinda slimy.”

Dancing like someone’s run ten thousand volts through Alan Bond’s corpse, Hussey gives Chrome Face the slicked-back menace of a St. Georges Terrace investment broker on a coke bender. The song thumps, buzzes, and cracks: the triple tap of the snare drum feeling like a rapidfire ‘coward’ punch looping on the CCTV security tape of a Northbridge kebab shop.

It’s a visceral setup to an album that’s done waiting in the wings. Last NME spoke to SUPEREGO, it was April 2020 and the group had just dropped their second EP ‘Nautilus’. COVID had made it impossible to tour; they had put their album plans on ice.

“We didn’t really like where we left things prior to taking a big break,” Hussey says now. “Everyone was pretty exhausted and tired from gigging and managing our and others’ expectations of us and our music. Having said that, we’d put a lot of ourselves into the project, and it didn’t feel right exiting without making an album. Albums feel like the ultimate format for us!”

“We’ve realised that it’s pretty special we get to make and share music with each other like this”


‘Who Are You Hiding From’ came to life in a shed-turned-studio converted by Hussey and bassist Toby Batchelor, who’d moved into a sharehouse in East Fremantle together. Hussey describes the creation of the album, which began with ‘Chrome Face’, as “an exercise in both procrastination and creative discipline”.

“It was bloody hard to finish some of the songs and not hate them. I’d also say we’ve rediscovered an identity as a group through the experience – we’ve realised that it’s pretty special we get to make and share music with each other like this.”

SUPEREGO. Credit: Shem Parkins

You get the sense that since their break the members of SUPEREGO have collectively matured, both personally and professionally, and that has opened up new ways of finding meaning within their own work. A part of that was the realisation that their hiatus from music was also (somewhat) a hiatus from their community, and their relationships with one another.

The album was, in part, fuelled by a desire to “prove to ourselves that we can make something we are proud of”, Hussey says. “We reflect a lot on who we are and where we are personally and socially. We hadn’t been creating as a band, and through it found that without the communion of music we didn’t see enough of each other.”

“It feels really hard to create cultural change in Australia”

‘Who Are You Hiding From’ is at once ecstatic and introspective, a kind of shy kid’s headbanger of an album that evokes backyard parties in Palmyra, selling dexies to rich kids while infodumping on your crush about the holocene. NME asks Hussey how the weirdness of Perth – its isolation, insularity, and innate oddness – has shaped their music, as it tends to leave its mark, in some way or other, on those working within its ‘otherness.’

“I don’t know that we’ve written anywhere else, so it’s hard to know what’s uniquely Perth about it,” he tells me, “I suppose because it’s a small scene, chances are people you know who make music are making very different stuff to you. Maybe that’s why we jump around sonically so much – it’s hard not to be influenced by your friends.”

This adventurousness is obvious on ‘Who Are You Hiding From.’ Tracks like ‘Pygmy Fowl Swansong’ gurgle with the woozy haze of synth and feedback crackle that’s so popular in Perth’s melancholic, sunset-tinged music. But then you have songs like ‘You Don’t Even Know,’ which leap out of a lava flow of beats with a cartoonish high-pitch whisper, then kick into borderline-manic rap that brings to mind Saturday nights spent finding your balance on the railing outside the club.

SUPEREGO. Credit: Shem Parkins

As with ‘Chrome Face,’ a lot of SUPEREGO’s songs get into frustrations with Australia’s close-mindedness, their place within its omnipresent and oppressive whiteness, and the friction that creates in their lives, community and art. Although the term ‘protest music’ feels quasi-meaningless, theirs often has the whiff of the molotov or the guillotine about it. What do SUPEREGO think of the effectiveness of such music in a society as ‘apolitical’ (see: conservative) as ours?

“It depends on what effective means,” Hussey replies. “A protest song needs a movement to attach itself to. So I think music can be powerful in that way amongst marginalised communities, or among people creating movements. White Australia probably not so much. ‘January 26’ by A. B. Original is a protest song. We haven’t changed the date, but I don’t think it’s any less effective as a protest song because of that. It feels really hard to create cultural change in Australia.”

Asked to embody Chrome Face for a moment, Hussey gives NME that corpo-Frankenstein’s thoughts (or lack thereof) on the nation at large: “I resign to answer this question, for I feel my beliefs may be too radical for the new-age Australian.”

On the Australian music industry, however, he was willing to enlighten us: “There’s always a buck to be made. If they love it, they’ll buy it for a fixed price. With a little advertising to the right target audience, we’ll be farting through silk for the rest of our days.”

Here’s hoping Chrome Face’s flatulent dreams of silk come to pass for SUPEREGO.

SUPEREGO’s ‘Who Are You Hiding From’ is out Friday June 15. The band launch the album at The Rechabite Hall in Perth on June 17 – more info here

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