Hurricane Deepakalypse

There’s a difference between a person who likes to travel and a person who doesn’t have a home. Singer-songwriter Deepak Super falls somewhere in between. He’s lived in Ventura County on and off for 24 of his 27 years, long enough to make plenty of lifelong friendships and ingrain his monotonic voice into the local music scene. But this isn’t really his “home.” After crisscrossing the United States multiple times, often staying in unfamiliar cities for prolonged periods with little more than a guitar to his name, Ventura is now just another extended tour stop for him. At least, that’s what he hopes.

“It appeared to me later that I keep going to one place and running away. I’m not accomplishing anything,” he says, sipping tea from what appears to be an empty 40-ounce liquor bottle. “I know I want to do music, but I don’t want to end up in Ventura.”

For the moment, Super, who performs under the nom de folk Deepakalypse (his birth name was given to him by an Indian spiritualist), is living in a shack. Or, rather, the Shack, one of two much-graffitied sheds located on a 13-acre flower farm in the agricultural outskirts of Oxnard. He seems to be pretty well planted here: the walls are decorated with Jimi Hendrix posters, the shelf is stocked with records, the floor is littered with various instruments, and, in the fireplace, there’s an old-fashioned pot-belly stove he bought to keep himself warm during the winter — naturally, there’s no indoor heating at a place called the Shack. On his bed, however, sits an open suitcase, partially filled with copies of Kamikaze Collective, a collection of random old recordings he recently had professionally pressed for the first time. Soon, Super will be leaving the county once again, flying to New Zealand for his sister’s wedding, then to Prague, New York and one of his favorite haunts, New Orleans. Along the way, he plans on selling as many CDs as possible, getting gigs wherever he can and attempting to assume the most well-worn archetype of rock mythology: the nomadic troubadour.

Like most amateur musicians born after 1977, Super started out playing in punk bands. Once simply making a racket lost its appeal, he stripped the noise down to its ideological skeleton. “I wanted to keep the ideas of punk, but play music that won’t scare off people who aren’t from that generation,” he explains. “I was interested in taking the things punk had to say and putting it to music that’s not as assaulting.” That, of course, is folk music. And that’s essentially what he plays: simple arrangements based around ramshackle guitar and lyrics about “society’s habits and the subconscious things we do.” But when asked for influences, the names he produces — like indie rock heavyweights Modest Mouse and the late African firebrand Fela Kuti — are, on the surface at least, far removed from what he does sonically. “Their music is totally different than what I play,” Super says, “but it’s their ideas that I want to convey.”

Around the same time he began performing at open mic nights around town, Super and a friend took a trip up to Canada and back, traveling in the shape of a “capital A,” he says. The two parted ways in New Orleans when Super decided he wanted to stay behind. He moved in with his aunt and quickly immersed himself in the city. He describes what he discovered as “a totally different world” than the one he was used to growing up in in Southern California. “It was like a carnival,” he says. Coming back to Ventura seven months later was “a total clash.” He’d been inspired musically as well, picking up chord progressions and guitar-playing styles that he had difficulty getting to gel with what his friends here were doing. “I couldn’t explain New Orleans to anyone.”

Upon returning, Super’s goal was to raise $2,000 and go straight back to Louisiana. He was splitting his time between Los Angeles and Ventura, working for a company that set up parties at different locations. At a job in Las Vegas, he threw his back out, delaying his plan for two years. He was all set to leave again last year when, four days before he was scheduled to depart, the city he’d spent months exploring on his bike was turned into a waterlogged graveyard. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Super expects his reunion with New Orleans to conjure a range of emotions. “It’s going to be sad and awesome at the same time,” he says.

Although he was disappointed that he didn’t get to leave Ventura permanently two years ago, Super doesn’t regret the time he’s spent here. He’s met and jammed with a lot of people he wouldn’t have otherwise, put together an album and even toured briefly with local cow-punks Jackass. But he’s ready now to hit the road, and eventually find a place to truly call home. He recently spent a few weeks in San Francisco, where he played in the rain in Golden Gate Park. “I think I’d like to land there,” he says.