When Chapel Hill, N.C. legends Superchunk disappeared into a semi-hiatus not too long after the promotional cycle for their 2001 album, Here's to Shutting Up, few could argue that they'd earned it; over the course of more than a decade and eight-odd full-lengths, the group had traveled the world countless times, built their own label Merge into an underground powerhouse, and basically became the embodiment of the indie-rock ideal on the strength of an incredible, and possibly insane, work ethic.
"Like anything else you're doing full-time, you hit a wall at some point," says drummer Jon Wurster. "Speaking for myself, I hit that wall. It was time to step away from it for a while."
Like his bandmates, Wurster felt a pressing need to break away from what must've seemed like an endless cycle of recording and touring, to concentrate on other things, such as writing for his comedy project with radio host Tom Scharpling and other outfits. Unlike his bandmates, however, Wurster's sabbatical from the indie rock world was surprisingly short-lived. It wasn't long before offers to collaborate with other artists, friends and even heroes started coming in, and Wurster eventually found himself recording with and backing the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, former Guided by Voices member Doug Gillard, iconic ex-Husker Du and Sugar frontman Bob Mould, and hip lo-fi collective The Mountain Goats. It's probably safe to say that Wurster did more playing in his "time off" from Superchunk than any other member of the band.
But that doesn't mean he wasn't refreshed and excited to reconvene with Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance and guitarist Jim Wilbur when McCaughan began cranking out Superchunk tunes again earlier this year.
"It was just like going to another project for me, though it was like going home, too, like going back to the mothership," he says with a laugh. "That was good, because I came back in super shape from touring all the time and especially after playing with people like Bob Mould, where you're on 11 every night. I was in the best shape I'd ever been in."