The Toast ‘N Jams interview with Obits
Brooklyn based band Obits‘ debut album I Blame You was in heavy rotation on my iPod when it was released 2 years ago, so I was excited to hear that they were coming out with a follow-up in 2011. The record, with its brooding guitar lines, steady beats, and fiery, swaggering vocals, sounded fresh amidst a sea of “chill-wave” bands that were coming out that year. Moody, Standard, and Poor exhibits the same raw rock energy, with equally intelligent lyrical content. The band has members from some of the seminal indie rock groups of 90’s: Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and Edsel, who have influenced scores of modern groups.
I had the opportunity to ask Obits members Rick Froberg, Greg Simpson, and Sohrab Habibion some questions about the new album, Brooklyn, and of course, breakfast.
TnJ: Let’s start with the basics: your album titles. Both “I Blame You” and “Moody, Standard, and Poor” have a rather confrontational vibe to them, but one is aggressive, and one is self-deprecating. Do you feel like the two albums have completely different MOs?
RICK: For my part, there is no intention to confront or even make a point. We’re all two years older – maybe less aggressive? Dunno. We tried keeping the songs short on purpose to offset that in case.
TnJ: The reference to “Moody, Standard, and Poor” is a very time appropriate theme. Without getting too political, are you angry at the economic state of our country right now? And are you optimistic for the future?
RICK: I was hoping to be able to stay in the middle class, but I think I fucked that up a while ago.
TnJ: Your sound really reflects the influence of your previous bands without being derivative. It also is a sound that I think fills a gaping hole in the “rock” scene as of late. What have you been listening to and who is your favorite new band?
TnJ: The theme behind this record seems to be summed up nicely (in my opinion) by the song “Naked to the World.” Sub Pop describes the album as “a series of emotional road trips.” Was there any specific that defines this record as opposed to the debut? And while we’re at it, why “I Blame Myself”? I thought “I Blame You”?
RICK: There’s a theme, but I think it would be bad policy for the singer to point it out. And it’s probably best not to blame you again; some of this must be my fault or it wouldn’t keep happening to me.
TnJ: Does it seem weird to have all of these young “hipster” fans? I was at your show on the Williamsburg Waterfront last summer and it seemed like the average audience age hovered below 30. Do you find this true on tour, or is there a good mix in the crowds across the country?
SOHRAB: I think the audience at that particular show was more reflective of the fact that it was summer, it was free and it was in Williamsburg.
I’m not sure if I have a very good gauge of who our average fan is. We’ve been lucky to have all kinds of folks express some sort of enthusiasm, from high school kids in Charlottesville, Virginia to parents and their teenage children traveling together over the French border to see us in Geneva, Switzerland.
The notion of “hipster” is vague and ever-shifting. We don’t worry about how our band might or might not fit in. We do what we like and try to make sure we are represented publicly in a way that hopefully allows people to make up their own minds about our music.
TnJ: You’re a Brooklyn based band, we’re a Brooklyn based blog. What’s your favorite thing about Brooklyn? What’s your least favorite thing?
GREG: Favorite – Walking through Prospect Park with an espresso from DUB Pies. Least favorite – Bicycle cops.
TnJ: We’re a music AND breakfast appreciation blog. What’s your favorite breakfast item? And do you have a favorite place in Brooklyn to have breakfast and/or brunch?
SCOTT: Pumpernickel bagel, scallion cream cheese, not toasted. That with a glass of fresh orange juice and I’m set. I get my bagel fix at Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill.
Check out Obits’ website and Subpop.com for album info and song previews. The album is officially released on March 29th, and you can expect to see them playing a venue near you starting March 11th!