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Song You Need to Know: Super Massive, ‘I Like It’

“I suppose it’s the closest thing to Machine Gun Fellatio that we’ve done,” explains Glenn Abbott. “It probably would’ve been a bit more X-rated.”

A few months on from the release of the track, beloved Gold Coast outfit Super Massive have shared the official video clip to their latest single, “I Like It”.

Premiered on Tone Deaf back in November, “I Like It” serves as a deliciously-infectious funk-jam from the group, which is composed around the core duo of ex-Machine Gun Fellatio drummer Glenn Abbott and singer-songwriter Malina Hamilton-Smith.

“It was probably the most light-hearted thing we’ve done,” Abbott tells Rolling Stone. “At the time, we just wanted something that was just going to be… I suppose it’s the kind of thing you could imagine playing at a festival.

“I think at the time I was writing, I thought how you see people trying to remember lyrics, and it’s so easy to go with something like ‘I Like It’. There is, I suppose, a bit of simplicity to it, and it is supposed to be light-hearted fun, which we tried to convey in the video as well.”

A track that had been in the works for a few years, the seeds of “I Like It” were sewn quite some time ago, though it hadn’t originally begun life as the funky creation that it is today.

Screenshot from the video of 'I Like It' by Super Massive

Glenn Abbott as Dr Massive in the video for “I Like It”. (Courtesy of Super Massive)

“Most of the stuff that we’d done in the past, we’d been trying to go for more of a modern sound or a modern production,” Abbott notes. “The guy who was playing bass with me, he was a real ’70s funk player, and I had been working on the track, I played it for him and I said, ‘Look, I’ve got this track as well…’ He said, ‘Yeah, that’s cool,’ and he did a variation of the bass line, making it a little bit more syncopated, and by doing that it really went into ’70s funk.”

“We actually had demoed it quite a while ago, and it was one of those funny things where we had demoed and recorded it, and then our son was born, and everything sort of went on hold for a couple of years because we’d just been sitting on it thinking, ‘Once we’re at a stage where we can get the train back on the tracks, we’ll release it then,'” he adds. “And that opportunity has sort of popped up now.

“It was funny though because in that time, you see how Daft Punk had released ‘Get Lucky’, and all this sort of disco stuff, and for a moment you sort of go, ‘Oh God, disco’s popular again; it’s cool again.’ But it didn’t really suit us at the time to release it. We weren’t playing, we had our son, we were moving house and all that sort of business. It’s funny how trends go.”

“People were going, ‘Oh, that song, that song! You said it was maybe going to be your next single – it’s so catchy, it should definitely be your next single!'”

With the track still unreleased at the start of last year, “I Like It” had in fact been given a preview during the group’s live shows, with fan response seeming to confirm that Super Massive were heading in the right direction.

“When the whole COVID thing was happening, we were offered some shows,” Abbott recalls. “It’s funny, because the whole COVID thing has made audiences a lot different. Usually they’d come to a gig and people might be jumping around and sort of enjoying themselves. They might not necessarily pay close attention to the actual songs, because they’re busy enjoying the night with their friends. But I think people were listening to the track a lot closer.

“So when we had done these shows in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and that, when we’d finished, people were going, ‘Oh, that song, that song! You said it was maybe going to be your next single – it’s so catchy, it should definitely be your next single!’ We’d got that reaction from quite a few people and they’d made special mention of it, so it was a pretty easy decision to decide to release it as the next single.”

Screenshot from the video of 'I Like It' by Super Massive

Malina Hamilton-Smith and Tyr Kovacic in the video for “I Like It”. (Courtesy of Super Massive)

While the track has been out for a few months, Super Massive have now given it a suitable visual accompaniment. Featuring Abbott as Dr Massive, a “psychiatrist specialising in Don Juanism, nymphomania, disco-philia and other unusual fetishes”, the story gradually unfolds as it becomes clear that the psychiatrist himself has trouble containing feelings towards his client. In true fashion, it showcases Abbott as a born storyteller with a natural flair for comedy.

The clip also features Hamilton-Smith in a dual role as a showgirl with a feather-tickle fetish, and a dangerously jealous nymphomaniac, with the latter’s philandering husband played by guitarist Tyr Kovacic. Meanwhile, a few familiar faces also appear, including Abbott’s former Machine Gun Fellatio bandmate LoveShark, and former Super Massive members, guitarist Marc Malouf and bassist Daniel Bruce.

“A few big bands have been doing that [concept], but I think it had been happening a lot, that real isolated video which makes you go, ‘Yeah, this is definitely a COVID video.'”

However, for a clip that seems to so perfectly encapsulate both the Super Massive experience and the natural flair for the theatrical that both Abbott and Hamilton-Smith have, it wasn’t initially set to appear this way.

“It was funny, [the clip] came about back to front,” Abbott recalls, noting it was originally rooted in something of a traditional COVID format, with the initial idea set to feature folks who had worked on the track sending in clips of themselves dancing to it.

“We filmed most of the video at home during shutdown while the Queensland / New South Wales state border was closed,” adds Hamilton-Smith. “A lot of our Sydney friends had sung on the recording (in the crowd you hear in the chorus) and we had originally wanted to get everyone together for a fun, retro pool party idea.

“But we couldn’t do that, so instead we invited everyone to film themselves singing and dancing along to the song and send the footage to us, like a lot of bands have had to do during lockdown. We asked them to make it fun, sexy and light-hearted.”

“A few big bands have been doing that [concept], but I think it had been happening a lot,” confirms Abbott, “that real isolated video which makes you go, ‘Yeah, this is definitely a COVID video.'”

Screenshot from the video of 'I Like It' by Super Massive

Tyr Kovacic as Phil Landerer in the video for “I Like It”. (Courtesy of Super Massive)

“We got some footage back from some people, and when we were about to tie it together, we said, ‘Well, we’ve got to film ourselves up here,'” Abbott explains. “And Tyr, he was sitting on the lounge, I was sitting on the chair, and one of us said ‘the whole thing with being on the couch and the chair feels like a visit to the psychiatrist’.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, it does a bit!’ And that’s when, after we had all the footage, that’s when we decided to backtrack and make it like a trip to the psychiatrist, or at least a dysfunctional psychiatrist where the psychiatrist is facing some sort of angst or need.”

“It sort of felt like the video was a bit more connected than just having people interstate filming themselves just dancing along.”

Of course, with so many people having already shared footage of themselves with intent on being included in the video as per its original concept, Super Massive weren’t content to let it go to waste, allowing the footage to be added in via some creative storytelling.

“Ultimately the footage we got from the guys, we turned it into something like I was doing a Skype meeting,” Abbott notes. “So we said, ‘That can be the COVID thing’, sort of calling in your appointment on the computer.

“We tried doing the retro thing as much as we could, but let’s face it, there were no laptops around in that era of the ’70s and ’80s, so we sort of used that license to get around things like that. So it sort of felt like the video was a bit more connected than just having people interstate filming themselves just dancing along.”

Screenshot from the video of 'I Like It' by Super Massive

Flossie and Dr Massive in the video for “I Like It”. (Courtesy of Super Massive)

With the end result featuring inspiration from the comedic stylings of Sir Les Patterson, and John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty, along with more modern influences such as Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgandy, and Flight of The Conchords, the clip itself also features elements which wouldn’t have been out of place during Abbott’s time in Machine Gun Fellatio.

Famed for their live performances and music videos which often featured highly provocative behaviour and an (occasionally confronting) dose of nudity, Abbott himself notes that the clip for “I Like It” is quite possibly “the closest thing Super Massive has done to something Machine Gun Fellatio might have done”.

But in much the same way as the storyline for the video presented itself along the way, this was never quite the original intention with the clip for “I Like It”, or even Super Massive in general.

“As soon as you finish in a band that had a fair bit of commercial success and you step out of that limelight, mate, it’s pretty cold outside.”

“It’s funny, when all the Machine Gun stuff had finished up – and I suppose it was with each individual in the band – I think everyone in the band, whether it be Pinky [Beecroft], 3k [Short], or LoveShark, or whoever, they kind of wanted to get back their own identity a bit and not rely on their old persona in Machine Gun a bit,” Abbott recalls.

“And I think I was the same, I kind of wanted to break away from that. And I think you kind of need that after being in a band that big, because as soon as you finish in a band that had a fair bit of commercial success and you step out of that limelight, mate, it’s pretty cold outside. You go back to being in an ordinary start-up band like everyone else and you’re battling to get gigs. And you always get the same comments: ‘What are you doing this for? You should get your old band back together!’

“Some people will support you and come to see your shows, but I don’t know if they’re expecting the same sort of show that Machine Gun would put on. But obviously there was a much bigger budget for that band compared to when you start up a new band.

“Any other work I’d done straight after that, I kind of distanced myself from Machine Gun a bit. Probably thinking to myself, ‘I don’t really want to be seen as the guy trying to do Machine Gun Fellatio part 2.’ It didn’t have the same budget as Machine Gun Fellatio, so it probably would’ve been like a poor man’s version.”

Looking back at his time in the band, whose 2002 album Paging Mr. Strike peaked at #6 on the ARIA charts, Abbott notes that some of the film clips made back in the days of Machine Gun Fellatio would cost around $30,000 – not exactly the sort of price that a band like Super Massive would be able, or willing, to front.

“So we had to make do, changing it, making a bit different, and saying, ‘Alright, it’s a new era now, the old band’s finished, blah blah blah,'” he adds. “But with this song though – and just lyrically with ‘I like it, I like it a lot‘, there’s so much innuendo. I suppose it’s the closest thing to Machine Gun Fellatio that we’ve done – they might have done something really similar to that, who knows? It probably would’ve been a bit more X-rated.

“I suppose it’s the closest thing to Machine Gun Fellatio that we’ve done – they might have done something really similar to that, who knows? It probably would’ve been a bit more X-rated.”

“But probably the only similarity is that I just think the song lent itself to that [concept]. It’s fun, it’s slinky, and lyrically – “I like it” – it lends itself to the idea of someone being promiscuous and being caught out. So I don’t think you could make too serious a video about that.

“You sort of have to be fun about it. The only down side of it all is that we would’ve liked to have had more people on it, but just due to the whole COVID thing, it just wasn’t possible.”

Super Massive’s “I Like It” is out now, with its official video clip available to view via YouTube.