INTERVIEW: Bobgoblin

How would you classify your music?

Tony: Un-formulaic and deliberately un-apologetic.  The arrangements, chord choices, and complex harmonies align more w/ the Tony Awards than the Grammys.  There is no existing box or category to place us in, and that is why – commercially speaking and as Yoda said – we fail.

Hop: Tony is for the most part right in that our music, while lyrically revealing our politically satirical bent, is more musical theatre than listeners are used to in today’s rock music.  The pat answer would be to say that it’s a combination of old-school-punk lyrical sensibilities, New Wave melodies, 70’s Glam punch and attitude, Surf-inspired harmonies, with a touch of Prog thrown in.  We come from all of that, so that is what it is.  I think it’s straightforward and hard-hitting in its delivery of hooks and melodies, but we always try to fulfill our desire for more complexity in the progressions and rhythms; add my love for monophonic keyboard counter-melodies, and you end up with something that sounds at once more modern than our contemporaries and more retro than the forced kitche retro that gets put out.  All I really know is that when we release new stuff, old fans keep saying, “You guys are still ahead of your time.”  I want to know when everyone is going to catch the fuck up and start listening.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?   [TBD by Hop/Rob]

Hop: Top 5 is like .01% of what inspires our music, but I’ll just say….XTC, Buzzcocks, Killing Joke, Pixies, Bowie.  Guess that’s part of the tip of the iceberg.

What do you want fans to take from your music? 

Tony: They have a choice, bob their heads mindlessly to good times rock n’ roll or carefully examine the composition closely transforming the listener into a more empathetic but inspired being.

Hop: I hope for them to see things unfolding in a cinematic way, but feel things unloading on them like a dumptruck full of boulders.  I want them to be rocked in ways they hadn’t thought of.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

Hop: LOVE LOST FOR BLOOD LUST has been released, and was actually a very long time in the making, mainly because we all live is different places now and have lots of creative things that we do to both survive and fulfill ourselves.  In the very long interim between the last BOBGOBLIN record and this one, we spent time under a different moniker with a slightly different sound.  The name of that band was The Adventures of Jet (AOJ) – exact same members, but just kind of a side project that actually might have been more popular than BOBGOBLIN.  The last BOBGOBLIN record, 12-POINT MASTER PLAN (released when we were with MCA Records), was angular, angst-ridden, up-tempo and more whimsical in a very dark kind of way.  It’s was kind of like Heath Ledger’s joker, but 10 years prior.  I would consider this current record as a combination of the angst, darkness, and socio-political stance of the last BOBGOBLIN record and the more orchestrated musical landscapes and harmonies of the two AOJ records.  Personally, I think it’s the sweet-spot between all of that stuff.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?   [TBD by Hop/Rob]

Hop:  Don’t really “love” anything about it except that it has given us access to some of our influences over the last several decades.  We got ourselves into this because we can’t help but create music, and probably one of our problems in terms of achieving what is typically thought of as success is the fact that we were only ever out to create and perform music, not become rock stars.  Yet, our Glam-meets-testosterone driven style would suggest otherwise.  But that’s also part of our creative process is to create a visual personae out of the sonic one.  Creating music is a skill, and achieving success with it is a bunch of fucking luck.  I don’t have time for luck….but I make time for music.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

Tony:  Nik Turner’s Space Ritual (’94), stadium = impossible to answer as I grew up during the time when untouchable rock gods roamed the Earth (Scorpions, Van Halen, Rush, Metallica, GnR, REO Speedwagon, Molly Hatchet, Dokken, Saxon, Genesis, Saga).  Too bad the bar is so low now, kids be rippin’ themselves off by not demanding actual talent in exchange for their allowance money.   The thing I like most about playing live is wearing tight shorts and being the center of attention in the room.

Hop: There are many great ones, but The Pixies at Deep Ellum Live in Dallas is one I always return to.  Shows are like games to me….to be won and lost, but not in relation to the audience….I’m talking about our own execution.  It’s the most satisfying thing about being a band – especially one in which the level of musical skill really matters – when we’re playing the stuff right as a group.  Our stuff is difficult in that the melodies and hits and crescendos are so important to the vibe of the song, and I take note of how we execute each part and how that execution appeals to me personally.  So what I like most is when we find the zone in each song and give it its due as a group.

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why? 

Tony:  As this record resembles the album before it in which each song would feasibly be another better looking and better marketed band’s breakout hit, catapulting them to one hit wonder status and eternal royalties, it’s hard to say.  I think “Waiting For the Sun” is a radio hit, could fall seamlessly between Drake and Fallout Boy on an annoying pop station spinning the same 9 songs all week.  Though street cred is solidified w/ anthems like Hide From Tomorrow, Fighting Machines, or White Lines.  If any other band hitting today came out w/ those that’s all you’d have been hearing during Super Bowl ads.  But alas, they’re on our record Hop:  I have nothing better to add to that.  Agreed.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business? 

Hop: I think we only got older an better as musicians, but honestly we established the sound we like for ourselves a while back and have only expanded on it production-wise….we haven’t made some great departure over the years, but I do think we’ve gotten better with the dramatic intentions of a song or section.  I think that’s just experience, not any matter of new-found skill or influence from anything new.  How people deal with modern life and political dynamics have changed a bit, and that’s has more to do with any changes we’ve undergone than any musical influence.  We never completely left the music biz – we took time out with kids and establishing households, and with that the music biz left us; we were able to figure out where we were in our lives and manage the time better, and thus were able to get back to doing what we do musically.  However, it’s been hard as fuck to get the gigs we used to and the help we used to, so it’s still a very incremental push to re-establishment, even with one of the most complete collections of tunes out there and a stage show that shows as much effort and passion as anyone can expect to bring to a stage.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Tony: Don’t meet your heroes, they’ll only let you down.  I pledge to live up to that unwritten expectation, too, letting down fans everywhere after we hit big.

Hop:  Hehe.  I’ll stick with that.

So tell us what’s next? 

I guess more of the same. Fucking hit songs no one hears. Death.  And the subsequent raping of our shit by bands that can’t write.  Except that soon there will not be bands.  But seriously….actually no, that was serious.  But technically…..once we’ve milked LOVE LOST for whatever we can (we still have 4 music videos in the can waiting to be edited….because we edit them ourselves and can’t get to it), we’re releasing a collection of songs we wrote a few years ago that are based on Classic Arcade games, which were a big part of our lives in the early 80s.  The songs don’t really say much about the games themselves….they basically just use the name and the vibe as a vehicle for a statement or metaphor.  There will be about 6 of those songs on the record, titled “Thruster,” and we will add unreleased recordings to that to make a full record.  We actually released a video for one of those arcade-themed songs over a year ago….it’s on Youtube as BOBGOBLIN “Sinistar.”  Check it out and rock it!!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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