What does it take for a K-pop group’s first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart? For SuperM, it takes a lot of hard work and a hefty dose of jumping and popping.

To understand SuperM’s success on the charts is to understand its members, company history and sound. The supergroup is comprised of seven members from three different SM Entertainment groups: SHINee’s Taemin, EXO’s Kai and Baekhyun, and NCT and its Chinese sub-unit WayV’s Ten, Taeyong, Mark and Lucas. In their respective groups and individual solo careers, the members have sold over 14 million records combined, racked up more than 4 billion views on YouTube with their music videos, and have more than 120 million followers online.

While this is not SM Entertainment’s first attempt at the creation of a supergroup (that title belongs to 2012’s Younique), SuperM is unique as a joint venture between Capitol Records and SM Entertainment. The group’s debut single, “Jopping,” is a quintessential “SM Music Performance” track — a term coined by the company to describe their genre-bending style of rock, hip-hop and R&B that, combined with stellar music videos and masterful choreography, creates an experience that leaves a lasting impression long after the first listen.

It’s this self-defined genre of music that has fans around the globe hooked on SM’s artists, and SuperM’s debut single “Jopping” is no exception: with its pulsating garage backbeat, sleek choreography, Baekhyun’s chills-inducing high note, and sampling of the Avengers theme, “Jopping” is truly a high-octane ride from start to finish. However, sections of the song harken back to past hits, like EXO’s “Wolf,” NCT 127’s “Cherry Bomb,” and TVXQ!’s “Catch Me,” rooting the track in the company’s signature style while still exploring a new chapter in SM history.

With a Billboard No. 1 debut album and a knockout showcase in Los Angeles under their belts, SuperM is currently preparing for their first tour, the aptly titled We Are The Future Tour — serving both as a callback to the 1997 song by first generation SM Entertainment K-Pop group H.O.T and setting SuperM’s goal of musical domination all at once. Kicking off in Fort Worth, Texas, the tour will see SuperM performing in ten different cities spaced over three months, and promises to showcase not only dynamic group performances, but their “individual characteristics” too, according to Ten.

PopCrush caught up with SuperM to discuss the group’s first practice session, their upcoming tour and the group’s dream of becoming the first Asian artist ever to perform at the Super Bowl.

You held your first official performance as SuperM on October 4th! What was it like performing in front of fans at the Capitol Records building?

Taeyong: It was awesome!

Mark: It was really, really fun. It was our first time performing as a team live in front of our fans and it was like a new experience — we all felt the same emotions together. I think that’s what really stood out to me; last night we were all getting nervous. We were all warming up together. It’s these kinds of things [that] make it feel like we’re actually a whole team. We feel kind of powerful.

Taeyong: We were all really, really nervous about this whole performance. We wanted to show so much to our fans because it was the first time we were performing in front of our fans as SuperM. Because of that, a part of me feels like I wish I could’ve shown more, so hopefully ... I can show off more next time.

How long did you know about SuperM before it was announced to the world?

Baekhyun: One year ago, but our younger members didn’t know then.

Mark: I learned about SuperM on NCT 127’s tour, so this year. I learned about it a couple months before preparing.

Taeyong: Yeah, me too.

What was your first reaction when you heard about SuperM?

Group: Wow!

Baekhyun: So powerful!

Mark: I actually wanted to say this once. During our early filming all together, I went to Taemin’s room and I asked him, “What did you feel when you first heard about SuperM?” He actually said, “This is actually something that can only happen now.” I actually totally agreed with him once he said it. It’s something that the world never thought that they needed, but now they’ll know that they needed it once we come out. We’ve been preparing a lot and we’re ready to show why we came and why we are SuperM.

Baekhyun: That’s right.

Take us into your first practice session together as SuperM. What was it like?

Lucas: First time, it was a little bit awkward.

Taemin: Awkward!

Ten: Because we’ve never worked with the seniors in our company before, we didn’t know what was going to happen when we started practicing, right? First, the atmosphere was so tense, but then Baekhyun came in and he just kept making jokes about stuff and the fences just like dropped down. From then, we started to get to know each other for the first time.

Baekhyun: I think for us, we felt more comfortable working with them. Also, I was really curious what it would be like to work with the younger, more recently debuted groups. They were more innocent and cuter than I had thought originally! That kinda made me want to take them under my wing and helped us grow closer.

Lucas: And because the seniors kind of looked after us, we felt very comfortable and that was kind of what brought us all together.

How was “Jopping” selected as the lead single?

Mark: We chose “Jopping” because we believed that it had the potential to contain our performance in terms of our dynamics. The way we are as a team, we’re very diverse; we have a lot of talents all rolled in one. We felt that “Jopping” had the capability of holding all of those talents in one piece. We definitely knew that it was going to be the song that we were gonna release as our debut single, and through it we wanted to show our strong side and how strong we are together.

Taeyong: SMP!

Ten: SM Performance — ”Jopping” is in that category.

Taeyong, you helped write and compose “No Manners.” Where did you get the inspiration for that track?

Taeyong: I got the inspiration from it from the movie Sid & Nancy, which I mention in the lyrics. It’s about a couple that have a bad break up even though they’re so in love with each other. Just going off that, I kind of thought, rather than having the relationship end on such bad terms, like you ending up hating that person, maybe it’s actually better to cut it out... [Stops talking and turns to Baekhyun] How do I put it?

Baekhyun: Let me help you out. If the relationship hits rock bottom, you end up hating each other. Rather than letting each other be the worst ex you ever had, it’s sometimes necessary to break up cold turkey before you start hating each other. I think that’s the message of the song.

You’re embarking on a huge tour beginning in November! What are you looking forward to most about performing in the U.S.?

Taeyong, Taemin and Kai, singing: We are the future! [Writer’s note: This is a reference to the H.O.T song of the same name.]

Kai: Oh my God.

Mark: It’s our first tour as SuperM. We are all lovers of performing and so having a tour itself just excites all of us, but to excite as a whole team together is just a total different feeling and so we’re looking forward to it. We’re still rehearsing it; we haven’t fully finished preparing it, but we’re actually thinking about a lot of things that we can show the fans other than just the album. I feel like the fans would love seeing how we all kind of collaboratively work together and I think that’s the best part that we can show the fans from the tour, so I hope a lot of people come.

This tour will see the group performing at prestigious venues like Madison Square Garden, some members for the first time ever in the U.S. How does that feel?

Ten: For me, I’ve always wanted to come to the U.S. and do a tour, and this time I get a chance to work with my SuperM members.... I still can’t believe it that I’m getting to do this! I want to thank all the members for working hard for this opportunity and thank you to Soo-Man Lee [SM Entertainment founder and executive music producer of SuperM] for giving us this opportunity and Capitol for helping us. This show, it’s not just the team, we get to show our individual characteristics too.

What’s your goal for the future of SuperM?

Taeyong: I wish that people all around the world would get to know us, would like our music, and would get inspired by us.

Taemin: I agree and want to add that fans also inspire us. This give and take with the fans as they support SuperM, SuperM also reciprocates that to the fans and I just want it to continue.

With a Billboard No. 1 debut album, what’s the next goal for SuperM?

Taemin and Ten: Super Bowl!

Taeyong: To become the first Asian artist to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show.

Kai: With Capitol…

Taemin: With Capitol’s support, we can do it!

Lucas: Yeah!

Baekhyun: Let’s go!

2019 K-Pop Concert and Festival Guide