Thursday, January 6, 2011

Show Preview - Oberhofer - Interview - 1/13/11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Twenty-ten was a good year for Brad Oberhofer, the eponymous frontman of Oberhofer. He released an EP o0Oo0Oo and several singles which attracted considerable attention in the online world and, increasingly, in the live (show) world as well. His bedroom/basement produced music is full of layered melodies, hooks, distortions, and lots of energy for his sometimes-dark lyrics. Now touring with a band, we caught up with Brad for an interview in preparation for his visit to the city of champions next week.

Oberhofer will play at Brillobox on Thursday, January 13th along with Cloud Nothings and Guest Legs Like Tree Trunks.

You are touring with Cloud Nothings (from Cleveland) for several weeks (including your stop in Pittsburgh) and then you pick up with Tapes 'n Tapes for several more weeks of touring. How did you connect with these bands, and is this your first extended tour?

We're bros with Cloud Nothings, our drummer knows them from Ohio. Tapes 'n Tapes really just asked us to do it—I don't even know all the details. We just did a tour with Twin Sister and Morning Benders for about two weeks, and that was the longest that I had ever toured. This Tapes 'n Tapes tour is about 4 ½ weeks, which is longer than I've ever been out on the road and we won't be stopping back in New York at any point.

o0O0o0O0o by Oberhofer

What do you expect this tour to be like?

Honestly, the only thing I ever expect is to just have tons of fun. I think it's going to be really great for us, especially because we've never been to most of the places we're playing. And I've never seen the South. I like to go jogging in every town that I go too, so that I can see a lot of new things.

Me too! OK, a little more abstractly—what is your music to you? Is it a personal endeavor, are you trying to accomplish something with music? Do you think about it in terms of reception and your audience—what does it mean to you?

It's just really personal, honestly. It just sort of happens that people can connect with it right now. I think that the problem with so many bands, and the reason so many bands sound really generic, is because there's a lot of contrivance in their music and they're trying to achieve something with their music. I think if people were just genuinely themselves in the music they write, and really did what their heart was telling them, instead of trying to rationalize their music in any sort of way, then there would be a greater variety of genres and styles. Tons of different bands and a cooler community, with less of a competitive nature between bands.

I definitely get that personal vibe from your music, and I understand that all of your songs thus far (except the Neon Indian cover) have been performed and recorded by you alone. Now that you are playing live with a band, do you intend to keep your writing and recording as a personal process, or do you think you might change this to write and record together with the band?

I've recently taken some songs to the band, and I've really liked what's happened. There is something personal that can happen in a group of four as well—four people that are connecting to make a piece of music that's meaningful to them as a group of people. If we find that working together forms songs that are a nice cohesive whole, then we will incorporate things like that on future recordings. Or it may be that I bring songs that are already written to the table, and they write parts. No matter what, the people in the band are incredibly important to me, because they write amazing parts and the live show would be nothing without them.

Don'tneedya by Oberhofer

I want to ask you about blogging. I've read that you were active in getting your own songs sent out there to music blogs (i.e., those which post mp3s). How do you see the role of blogs in today's musical landscape? Are blogs an unmitigated positive?

Well, this is a dangerous question because so many of my friends write for cool blogs, and I read blogs all the time. But more and more I'm seeing that it's easier for blogs to gain recognition. There are so many popular or semi-popular blogs out that, and I think there is going to be a rebellion against blogs and the goal of musicians will be to transcend the blogs.

Why the backlash? Because they're too powerful as taste-makers?

Yeah, too powerful as taste-makers. But at the same time, they were completely helpful to me in getting my music out there. It's kind of a double-edged sword. I see blogs as being a temporary stepping stone for musicians, and I think that maybe they'll be prominent for another ten years, and hopefully musicians will connect with people independent of any sort of media.

You're a young musician, and I'm interested in your song titles like "AWY FRM U"—all caps without vowels. "Don'tneedya" smooshed together. "Smylez." "o0Oo0Oo." There seems to be a contemporary blogging, texting-type reference there. Do you have anything in mind when you write your titles like that?

Yeah, I mean...I don't really have anything in mind to be honest. That's just how I write them. I personally don't like putting serious titles to my songs for the most part, because the songs are really meaningful to me, but I don't take seriously what the title is. To me, although the title is what people see, it's not really part of the substance of the artwork.

Smylez by Oberhofer

I think that's a great answer. Do you have any plans for upcoming recordings?

Yeah, we have a 7" coming out on January 11th. I might put out a six-song thing for the summer, maybe a full-length. We have a whole lot of songs written, and they're all very different, so we'll see how it goes.

Great! Thanks Brad. We're excited to have you here in Pittsburgh next week.

Thanks. Take care.

--Daniel Hammer