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Basses Wild: Laura Ballance of Superchunk

October 10, 2010
“Basses Wild” is an opportunity for Girl Germs to showcase a female bass player in a band that we might not normally play on the show – a “wild card,” if you will (get it?).

If you’re a Superchunk fan, the thing that immediately identifies a song is probably Mac McCaughan’s voice. But Laura Ballance, the band’s bassist, is just as much a part of Superchunk’s history, influence and signature sound as the dudes in the band. Ballance, a founding Superchunk member, has also played a key part in the Chapel Hill, N.C. indie-pop scene (Archers of Loaf, Polvo and Ben Folds Five all started there).

In the early ’90s, after Superchunk’s then-label, Matador, entered into a distribution agreement with Atlantic Records, Superchunk made the decision to release records on their own terms. Ballance and McCaughan had co-founded Merge Records to release a single in 1989 and, after leaving Matador, went back to their D.I.Y. roots, releasing all future Superchunk records on Merge.

Ballance and Superchunk are still active today (Majesty Shredding just came out this year) and Merge has gone on to indie superstardom, putting out releases by such influential artists as: Arcade Fire, Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel and Tracey Thorn. Ballance is also a visual artist, creating cover art for several Superchunk records. Her sculpture was pictured on the cover of the Leaves in the Gutter EP.

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