The Superjesus are an Australian rock band formed in Adelaide in late 1994. Their debut album, Sumo (February 1998), peaked at No. 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart, their second album, Jet Age (October 2000) reached No. 5 and their third album, Rock Music (May 2003) peaked at No. 14. Their top 40 singles include "Down Again" (1997), "Now and Then" (1998), "Gravity" (2000) and "Stick Together" (2003). At the ARIA Music Awards of 1997 they won Best New Talent for Eight Step Rail and Breakthrough Artist – Single for "Shut My Eyes". The group disbanded in mid-2004 and reunited in 2013 with mainstay members Paul Berryman on drums, Sarah McLeod on lead vocals and Stuart Rudd on bass guitar.
Career Beginnings: 1994-1996
The Superjesus formed in late 1994 as Hell's Kitchen in Adelaide by Paul Berryman on drums, Sarah McLeod (ex-Fallen Down Monster) on lead vocals and guitar, Stuart Rudd on bass guitar and Chris Tennent on lead guitar. Rudd and Tennent had been jamming together for about a year when Rudd tried out for McLeod's latest band. Tennent was McLeod's guitar teacher at the time and a veteran of the Adelaide music scene, having played in various bands since the 1980s. Paul Berryman successfully auditioned for the group and they started rehearsing for over a year before their first gig.
Hell's Kitchen changed their name to the Superjesus on the eve of the Big Day Out in Adelaide on Australia Day long-weekend, January 1996. Tennent provided the new name. Berryman explained, "It was basically just a piss-take on commonly used words in the '90s. Like The Jesus and Mary Chain, "Jesus Built My Hotrod", the Jesus Lizard, Jesus Jones; there's just heaps of Jesus' out there in the music world so we thought we would have that and super was kind of like a '90s catch word." Their debut five-track extended play, Eight Step Rail, was released in August 1996 on Aloha Records.
Career Peak: 1997-2004
Eight Step Rail reached the ARIA Singles Chart Top 50 in February 1997. Its feature track, "Shut My Eyes", received high rotation on national youth alternative music radio station, Triple J – it was listed at No. 81 on the station's Hottest 100 for 1996. AllMusic's Jonathan Lewis described how "their wall of guitar noise (somewhat reminiscent of Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins) made them an overnight success on Australian radio. Sounding like a cross between Liz Phair and Catatonia's Cerys Matthews, McLeod's voice was a major drawcard; strong, confident and rarely lapsing into the girlishness that characterized some of the Superjesus' contemporaries." Jasper Cooper of Oz Music Project felt that on the EP, "Musically, the band inherited much from contemporaries such as the Smashing Pumpkins, but McLeod's appeal at the band's fore, lent The Superjesus their own niche and stature. The single track 'Shut My Eyes' was the band's tour de force, something that was still unmatched in their latter albums."
They followed with a tour of Australia's east coast, then supported shows by Clouds, Hoodoo Gurus and United Kingdom band, Bush. As songwriters, Tennent typically composed the music and McLeod supplied the lyrics – the pair had also developed a personal relationship. In January 1997 the Superjesus appeared at the Big Day Out and, in April, they travelled to Triclops Sound Studios, Atlanta to record their debut album, Sumo, with Matt Serletic (Collective Soul) producing and Jeff Tomei (Smashing Pumpkins, Hole) as audio engineer. At the ARIA Music Awards of 1997 they won Best New Talent for Eight Step Rail and Breakthrough Artist – Single for "Shut My Eyes". McLeod and Tennent's personal relationship had ended and late that year; he temporarily left the group. Aaron Tokona (of Weta) filled in on guitar when the Superjesus toured New Zealand. Tokona turned down the offer to become a permanent member and remained with Weta.
With Tennent back on board they released Sumo in February 1998 through EastWest/Warner Music Australasia, which peaked at No. 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified platinum by ARIA for shipment of 70,000 copies. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described it as "a big sounding album backed by a generous budget." Its local success led to a United States version – with an altered track listing – being issued in June. Lewis felt that they "show that guitar rock with McLeod's vocals soaring over the top is definitely their strength. Unfortunately, it is also their weakness, with Sumo containing too little variation in style." An extended version titled Sumo II, including a bonus seven-track enhanced CD of live performances, was released in October. At the ARIA Music Awards of 1998 Sumo had them nominated for Best Group, Breakthrough Artist – Album and Best Cover Art (artwork by Chris and William Tennent).
In January 1999 they appeared at the Big Day Out, again, and then took a few months off. Chris Tennent left the Superjesus permanently in mid-1999 when they were due to resume. The group relocated to Melbourne in November where they recruited Tim Henwood (ex-Jen Anderson Band, Supermann, Plasticine, Barker) on guitar. Henwood and McLeod became the principal songwriters. The band released their second album, Jet Age, in October 2000, which was produced by Ed Buller (Psychedelic Furs, Suede, Ben Lee) and peaked at No. 5. Louise Buckingham of femail.com.au noticed that the group's "rock engine is winding up and are fuelled to commence take-off down the runway of Australian rock music. With the recent release of blazing new album Jet Age and with the hit-single "Gravity" now a friend to the radio waves, The Superjesus have proved they are keen to move into a new musical era." Amazon.com's editorial reviewer declared that it was an "intelligent, mature, sophisticated" release. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2001, Jet Age was nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Cover Art (Darren Glindemann).
Henwood left in mid-2001 and eventually formed The Androids (he later joined Rogue Traders). McLeod considered disbanding the Superjesus but took up lead guitar while working for their third album as a trio, Rock Music (May 2003), with Marc Waterman producing, which reached No. 14. Patch Brown had replaced Henwood, but due to stylistic differences during recording, he was replaced in turn by Jason Slack, a Slippery Rock Graduate. Tim Cashmere of Undercover felt that "they are just as powerful as before" with McLeod "singing better than ever over her chunkier-than-ever riffs." MediaSearch's Carmine Pascuzzi cautioned that "Those who have been ready to write them off should rethink as Sarah McLeod sings beautifully and the band work in harness efficiently to produce a strong effort. The riffs and tenacity are very much on show... They still have a knack for really rocking out, yet indulging in some slower ballads."
In June 2004 the Superjesus split with Warner Music Australasia as the members took time off to pursue other projects. McLeod worked on a solo album, Beauty Was a Tiger. She then fronted the Sydney-based three-piece band, Screaming Bikini.
On 27 November 2012 McLeod announced on radio station Triple M The Superjesus would reunite for a one-off show on 1 February 2013. Later, McLeod told the Northern Star "We only got back together in 2013 because our drummer [Paul Berryman] came back to Australia from Seattle, so we [bass player Stuart Rudd and lead singer McLeod] thought we could play one single show, see how the crowd responded and, more importantly, how we responded to each other and see if we had some musical chemistry together. The one show was better than we had hoped, crowd-wise and for ourselves." The band, with the line-up of Berryman, Henwood, McLeod and Rudd, played at the Stone Music Festival with Van Halen and Aerosmith in Sydney in April, before embarking on their first national tour in 10 years – The Resurrection Tour – in May and June.
In early 2015 the Superjesus undertook the She Who Rocks Tour sharing the stage with the Baby Animals, fronted by Suze DeMarchi. In June that year the Superjesus released their first single in over a decade, "The Setting Sun". In November they followed with "St. Peters Lane", and embarked on The Setting Sun Tour. In December, Henwood departed to return to The Androids and was replaced with former member, Jason Slack and in April 2016, drummer Paul Berryman departed due to family commitments and residing in the United States. Meanwhile, McLeod traveled to New York City for three months to write new material for a planned fourth album.
In March 2017, The Superjesus were inducted into the South Australian Music Hall of Fame. In 2018, The Superjesus celebrated 20 years ofSumo by re-releasing the album in August with bonus tracks and a national tour.
In January 2019, The Superjesus appeared at the 'Under the Southern Stars' concert tour of five states starting off at Hastings, Victoria, with performances in Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia scheduled throughout January. Appearing with The Superjesus at the Hastings concert were Hoodoo Gurus, Eskimo Joe, You Am I, British India, The Getaway Plan and Scott Darlow. In November, The Superjesus travelled overseas and performed in the South American country of Brazil. The band was also featured and interviewed on a documentary, celebrating the cult classic, ABC TV Australian Music Show: "Recovery", hosted by Dylan Lewis.
- Sarah McLeod – lead vocals, guitar (1994–2004, 2013–present)
- Stuart Rudd – bass (1994–2004, 2013–present)
- Jason Slack – lead guitar (2001–2004, 2015–present)
- Travis Dragani – drums (2016–present)
- Chris Tennent – lead guitar (1994–1997, 1997–1999)
- Paul Berryman – drums (1994–2004, 2013–2016)
- Aaron Tokona – lead guitar (1997)
- Tim Henwood – lead guitar (1999–2001, 2013–2015)
- Patch Brown – lead guitar (2001)
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Sumo 20th Anniversary||
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Eight Step Rail||
|Love and Violence||-|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Now and Then"||1998||40|
|"Gravity"||2000||25||The Jet Age|
|"Secret Agent Man"||2001||43|
|"Enough to Know"||42|
|"Stick Together"||2003||35||Rock Music|
|"Over and Out"||53|
|"The Setting Sun"||2015||–||Love and Violence|
|"St. Peters Lane"||–|
|"Love and Violence"||2016||–|
ARIA Music Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1997||Eight Step Rail||Best New Talent||Won|
|Breakthrough Artist – Single||Won|
|Best Cover Art||Nominated|
|Best Rock Album||Won|
|2001||Jet Age||Best Rock Album||Nominated|
|Best Cover Art||Nominated|
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- Nimmervoll, Ed. "Superjesus". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd (Ed Nimmervoll). Archived from the original on 29 January 2005. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
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- ARIA Music Awards for the Superjesus:
- Search Results 'Superjesus': "Winners by Year: Search Results for 'Superjesus'". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 12 June 2016. Note: The 2016 ARIA site does not list a second win for 1997: Breakthrough Artist – Single for "Shut My Eyes".
- 1997 winners and nominees: "Winners by Year 1997". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2016. Note: The archive copy of the ARIA site lists two wins for 1997, the 2016 copy of the site does not.
- 1998 winners and nominees: "Winners by Year 1998". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- 2001 winners and nominees: "Winners By Year 2001". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Buckingham, Louise (December 2000). "The Superjesus in the Jet Age". femail.com.au. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- Scott, Jennifer (July 2000). "Weta's Winning Ways". New Zealand Musician. 8 (9).
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Lewis, Jonathan. "Sumo – Superjesus | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Superjesus – Jet Age – Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Wilson, MacKenzie. "Rogue Traders – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Cashmere, Tim. "Superjesus, Rock Music". Undercover. Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman. Archived from the original on 29 September 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
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- "The Superjesus: Back with Love and Violence". Northern Star. 23 October 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- Egging, Kiel (7 March 2013). "The Superjesus Announce 'The Resurrection Tour' – May/June 2013 – Music News, Reviews, Interviews and Culture". Music Feeds. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Pinnegar, Shane (22 May 2015). "Interview: Sarah McLeod, The Superjesus". 100% Rock Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Culpan, Troy (4 June 2015). "The Superjesus have signed with Social Family Records and announce their new single, 'The Setting Sun'". May the Rock Be with You. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Cashmere, Paul (25 November 2015). "Music News: The Superjesus Reveal 'St Peters Lane' Video". Noise11. Paul Cashmere, Ros O'Gorman. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "The Superjesus Announce New EP 'Love And Violence', Australian Tour Dates". Music Feeds. 27 July 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "AMC SESSIONS AND HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS AT THE MORTLOCK". TryBooking. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- "The Superjesus 20th Anniversary Tour". Female. July 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
- "Hoodoo Gurus, You Am I & Eskimo Joe Lead Under The Southern Stars 2019 Festival Lineup". Music Feeds. 9 July 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
- "The Superjesus Australian Chart History". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "ARIA Top 100 Albums 1998". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "ARIA Report issue 623" (PDF). 4 February 2002. Archived from the original on 21 February 2002. Retrieved 15 April 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Love and Violence (EP)". iTunes Australia. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "The Superjesus announce Love and Violence single, EP & tour dates!". May the Rock Be with You. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "ARIA Awards Search Results - The Superjesus". ARIA Awards. ARIA Awards. Retrieved 6 April 2018.