Story by Sarah Spohn
All hats are off with this one! Ahead of the Reo Town’s Nightmare off Elm Street Halloween party, we’ve got an exclusive, revealing interview with the newest band to haunt the streets of REO Town: Super Secret Cult Band. The Apocalyptic Pop Vignettes takes over the Robin Theatre on Friday, Oct. 25 with two shows at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
We’re not really about keeping secrets here at the Palm Reader — while we might not be able to actually tell your future, we’ll gladly tell you about what under-the-radar stuff is happening locally. We’re happy to inform you of Lansing’s best-kept secrets, and this Super Secret Cult Band is right up there amongst the greats.
Made up of Dylan Rogers, Abigail Hoffman, and Michael McConeghy, Super Secret Cult Band came from a juxtaposing landscape: creating meaningful, upbeat art, amidst a cynical, jaded timeline.
Rogers spoke about his struggle amongst these current dark days. “Abuses of power, misinformation campaigns and dehumanization efforts, often perpetrated by those who would see this country ‘restored’ to shiny, 1850s Americana, have been so disheartening,” hes said. “I started to wonder what the point of making music was, after all.”
After a friend gifted him a copy of the dreaded occult tome, The Necronomicon, Rogers found new guidance to help him through troubled times. McConeghy met Rogers while studying at MSU, and reconnected after moving from Chicago back to Lansing. “It turns out that we have been developing a lot of the same interests — Lovecraftian horror, conspiracy theories, and of course, the end of days,” McConeghy said.
For singer-songwriter Abigail (Abbey) Hoffman, she knew Rogers from singing in the same vaudeville band. She was told there would be robes and three-part harmony; both of which she was on board for.
“I’m a huge fan of vocal harmony, and three-part harmony leaves a lot of room for creativity,” Hoffman said. “During the writing process, which involved a weekly tea ritual, we tried to give each song a unique feel. We were inspired by some of our favorite music like The Ronettes, The Andrews Sisters, The Ink Spots, The Shirelles, The Beach Boys, etc.”
The self-described ‘occult doo wop trio’ focuses on making upbeat songs about a dark, end of the world, doomsday. Despite their Halloween-based event, their music is to be consumed every day of the year, not just October 31.
“The cult isn’t just about Halloween,” Hoffman said, “it’s about celebrating the existential absurdity of the everyday. In this day and age, there’s a lot of material to work with.”
McConeghy noted the coincidence of the band’s first performance being during the season of Samhain, “but, I think the subject matter will resonate all year long,” he said.
“The style is reminiscent of vocal groups of the first half of the 20th century,” Rogers said. “It’s not a loud show, but it is high energy. Even though we’re singing about the end of the world, dark magic and conspiracy theories, we think audiences will have a lot of fun. And that’s the most important thing. The world is going to end any minute now, so we many as well have some fun with it while we can.”
In terms of practicing for the upcoming show, Rogers equated the rehearsal process to a refreshingly straightforward one. “We perform around a single, large diaphragm condenser microphone (think O’Brother Where Art Thou), which makes it really easy to perform anywhere.”
It’s described as ‘seance meets sock hop’ music that also moves band members all over the stage. “You might see a little bit of choreography on stage,” McConeghy said. “Believe it or not, we are not professional dancers. Any movement you see from us is entirely based on our enjoyment of performing the songs in front of audiences.”
The shows are 30-40 minutes long, and enable attendees to pop in throughout their night filled with neighborhood activities throughout the larger event (much of which is free). They’ll learn about the history of the esoteric order, safety tips for responsible seance practice, and even forbidden lore. The show is all-ages, but occult, conspiracy theories and apocalypse themes are present.
“So, if you don’t want to have to talk to your kids about what a ‘blood ritual’ is, they probably shouldn’t come,” Hoffman said.
Advance tickets are $6.66 in advance (you sneaky lil’ devils, you), and $10 at the door. Doors open 15 minutes before showtime.