When Orono Noguchi first joined Superorganism, some people thought she was too good to be true.
People weren’t just shocked that so much indie-rock style poured out of a then 17-year-old from a Maine boarding school. Based on the band’s debut single, “Something for Your M.I.N.D.,” an infectious anthem built on Noguchi’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics and a blooping, hip-hop-influenced synth groove, people thought she was a fictional character, the product of music-industry mythmaking. Yes. People thought she was so great that she couldn’t exist.
“People are silly on the internet,” says Noguchi, calling from a tour stop in Portland, Oregon, before the band hits the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday, April 5. “So I was like, ‘OK, that’s pretty cool.’ I didn’t really deal with it because I thought it was silly.”
In a way, she understands how it could happen. “When you look up my name, it actually is a town in Maine,” she says. “But the story behind it is, my parents met at the University of Maine, which is located in that town called Orono, so that’s why my name is Orono.”
The harder-to-explain part is how Noguchi has so effortlessly stepped into the role of frontwoman for Superorganism — the multicultural musical collective based in London that grew out of the New Zealand band The Eversons — even though she had never performed in front of a crowd before she first took the stage with the band at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany, in September.
“I was very nervous and it was pretty overwhelming, but I got over it pretty quickly,” she says. “Two songs in, I was fine. And I’ve just been doing it every night since then, I guess.”
Following the release of its eponymous debut “Superorganism” (Domino) in March, the band, buoyed by the fizzy, but knowing single “Everybody Wants to Be Famous,” is in the middle of its first American tour and Noguchi, now 18, finds herself trying to get used to life on the road and in front of big crowds of people.
At the moment, she says her stage presence is coming from childhood influences. “I had this DVD that Weezer released, ‘Video Capture Device,’ and I grew up watching Rivers [Cuomo, Weezer frontman] perform and thought, ‘That’s so cool,’ ” Noguchi says. “And I watched ‘School of Rock’ a lot, so I think I just took in Jack Black’s stage presence.”
She’s also finding new influences, like when Superorganism covered the Pavement classic “Cut Your Hair.” “That was a lot of fun,” Noguchi says. “I wish we could do it a couple more times. I was playing guitar on that one and that was really fun for me. Growing up watching Rivers and Jack Black, I always wanted to rock out with an electric guitar onstage.”
However, Noguchi is also going to be a rocker on her own terms.
After all, a year ago she was in high school, worrying about graduating and thinking about going to college. “That’s still my main concern at the moment,” says Noguchi, who would like to study English literature at the University of Chicago. “I really want to go to school and I’m worried that I’ll get caught up in touring and promoting this album. People, including myself, tell me, ‘College can wait.’ It’s also true that college is an experience. It’s going to be awkward if I’m going to college in my 30s and be like, ‘Hello, fellow young people.’ I kind of want to find the right time to go and chill out and just study.”
Currently, Noguchi is reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” as the tour begins. “My mom got it for me a couple years ago and I never read it,” she says. “I’m a huge fan of transcendentalism and that period of American literature. Emerson has been speaking to me in this about self-reliance.”
And she is taking the lessons to heart. When asked about the warm response that “Superorganism” and the band’s appearances at the South by Southwest Music Festival have received in recent weeks, Noguchi offers a very Emerson-like response.
“No matter what people are going to say about it, what matters is being proud of what you did,” she says. “We were really proud of what we did, but we’re glad that everyone else likes it too.”
Noguchi says she’s not going to try to break it down any more than that. “I feel like if I analyze it all the time, it’s going to really stress me out,” she says. “I do believe that because so much of pop culture and what’s going on in the world in general today is so morose and depressing in general, it’s kind of refreshing to see a band that’s all about fun.”
She quickly refines that idea, though, adding, “It’s not like a yoga instructor telling you, ‘Everything’s OK. Stay happy all the time’,” she says. “It’s not that kind of [expletive] happiness. It’s more like an optimism. And, in my opinion, every single day that you don’t go and kill yourself is a form of optimism. I think we reflect that sentiment and that’s what resonates with a lot of people.”
While supergroups like Prophets of Rage have attention built in, artistic collectives like Superorganism have always built followings of their own. Here’s a look at some of the best:
BIO The hip-hop group has created its own world in Staten Island, making music in varying configurations since 1992.
CORE MEMBERS RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah
BIGGEST HIT Method Man’s “I’ll Be There for You / You’re All I Need to Get By” (No. 3, 1995)
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
BIO The indie-rock collective formed in Toronto by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning in 1999 has been as big as 19 members and as small as six in its history.
CORE MEMBERS Drew, Canning, Andrew Whiteman, Sam Goldberg, Charles Spearin, Justin Peroff, Leslie Feist, Stars’ Amy Millan, Metric’s Emily Haines
BIGGEST HIT Feist’s “1234” (No. 8, 2007)
BIO Formally known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the crew creates hip-hop culture in music, fashion and other disciplines.
CORE MEMBERS Tyler, the Creator; Frank Ocean; Earl Sweatshirt; Hodgy; Jasper Dolphin
BIGGEST HIT Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ ’Bout You” (No. 32, 2012) — GLENN GAMBOA
WHEN | WHERE 9 p.m. Thursday, April 5, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn
INFO $15; 888-929-7849, axs.com
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