Doctor Sung of TWRP on battling 2020 with positivity, working with Oakland’s Planet Booty

TWRP, Doctor Sung, Havve Hogan, Lord Phobos, Commander Meouch

TWRP, Courtesy.

Editor’s note: The colorful costumes and on-stage personas of Tupperware Remix Party (TWRP to its fans) are appropriately “over the top.” But keyboardist-singer Doctor Sung, guitarist Lord Phobos, bassist Commander Meouch and drummer Havve Hogan really are as hopeful as their music. The group, which got a start in the previous decade in Nova Scotia and quickly began to grow fans worldwide online through jamming with the likes of actual astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and comedy music stars Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb.

Over The Top
Sept. 25

TWRP’s next album is literally titled Over The Top, and will be released next week. and the band’s current single, “Need Each Other,” was recorded with the help of Oakland’s Planet Booty. In this column, Doctor Sung writes about about COVID collaborations and fighting off 2020 with optimism and hope

“Now more than ever, we’re going to need each other.” So goes the hook to our new single, “Need Each Other,” featuring Bay Area electro-funk trio, Planet Booty. The vibe and direction for the tune came from a genuine place, from wanting to convey a message of compassion, cooperation and togetherness. Little did I know while I was writing this song and its simple talkbox hook in December 2019 that in just a few short months the entire world and all of our lives would be turned upside down. Little did I know that the song’s message of togetherness and collaboration would be more important, and simultaneously—at least in a physical sense—more out of reach than ever.

The new TWRP album was recorded entirely during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. At first we agonized over the thought of not being able to record together in the same physical space. After all, the collaborative process of creating music as a band is what makes a group’s songs greater than the sum of their parts. Not being able to bounce ideas and jokes back and forth in real time seemed like it would suck the soul out of it, but ultimately we did what needed to be done and recorded everything remotely within our respective homes. In fact, it turned into kind of a fun experiment, learning the workflow of recording and sharing via the cloud, each day hearing the songs become more and more realized as we individually recorded our parts into the recording sessions remotely.

Further on into the production process of this song, once the skeleton of it was in place, we realized it was missing something. The swingin,’ laidback funk groove had found its pocket, but it was still beckoning for a touch of soul. That is when we knew we had to call on our friends in Planet Booty. We had first met them in 2017, falling in love with one another’s bands after crossing paths randomly at a club in Phoenix we both played at one night. Their soulful charisma was infectious, and we soon became fast friends, collaborating and touring together frequently since then. For “Need Each Other,” we knew that their style and silky-smooth vocals would push the song to the next level.

Lucky for us, Planet Booty is not only extremely talented and creative, but they are also some of the kindest, most laidback and easy-to-work-with gents we’ve ever had the pleasure of making music with. Both TWRP and Planet Booty really get each other, and we have always trusted their sensibilities, so with only that vocal hook as lyrical direction, we said, “show us what you got.” A couple weeks later, after MacGyvering their own quarantine-friendly recording setups, Planet Booty produced and sent over what we thought was the perfect vocal feature for the song: words and melodies that complemented the music in a way well beyond our expectations. And they made it look easy!

TWRP, Doctor Sung, Havve Hogan, Lord Phobos, Commander Meouch

TWRP, Courtesy.

At that point, the song had really taken on a new life. It had become what I had always envisioned of it: the greasy funk tune that makes you want to groove, while also making you want to hold the door open for a stranger, and also help friends with their cross-town move. It was about coming together, learning that it’s OK to lean on one another in difficult times. It was about loving your family, your friends, yourself and strangers.

In this dumpster fire of a year for humanity that we call 2020, it has become so easy—tempting, even—to succumb to cynicism. Yet we can’t give in to that beguiling feeling of nihilism. We can’t just throw our hands up in the air and scream, “I’m done!” We have to remember, and I genuinely hope that this song can help us all remember, that even with all the pressures and worries of life, the bad times are only temporary. Much in the same way that the collaboration of TWRP and Planet Booty can create something synergistic and greater than the individual, all of us as people, as members of the human race, can come together to create a future that is better than what we’re able to create on our own. It’s OK for us to need each other to do that. Especially now, more than ever.

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