Obits are coming to the Elevens on Thursday night. Earlier this winter, I was given the opportunity to interview Sohrab Habibion, the band’s guitarist and sometimes singer. Obits put out an album, Moody Standard and Poor on March 29th. I liked it.
How did Obits come about?
We all knew one other person in the group, I knew [lead singer/guitarist] Rick, Rick knew [drummer] Scott, and I knew [bassist] Greg. Greg and I were working together in a design studio- –it just gelled really well musically and personality-wise.
What should people expect with the new Obits album?
The songs are shorter, little more concise, I think it sounds different, sounds like you’re live in the room with the band- musically it’s different but it’s not like a radio record or anything.
The only precedent I have to your playing style is Edsel- obviously Obits is a different band- how have you evolved as a guitarist?
I would say that there are certain things I play that are not that dissimilar from little parts in terms of approaching how to come up with parts, I think the backbone of it is different. When Edsel was a band, we had a lot of self-imposed rules about what we were trying to do, we didn’t want to play barre chords, there were a lot of things we wanted to avoid: being generically rock n roll. At the time, it was what we were interested in, for me those things now are not that relevant. I prefer to doing something in the context where there are less rules, more open to just write good songs and music we’d want to listen ourselves. Not that Edsel wasn’t that, it’s that the things that would’ve sounded corny to me in 1993 are totally fine and pleasing now.
I love your singing on Obits songs, are you singing more on the new record?
Yeah, I sing two songs on the new record, it just worked out that way honestly. We had been working with a large group of songs- at one point we had 40 songs, and were whittling them down, seeing which ones merited enough attention. It just so happened that two of mine were closer to being completed. Anything goes, there are also two instrumentals on this record. It just kind of turned out that way.
You and Rick have a very traditional relationship in terms of being rhythm and lead, but it still sounds fresh to me- talk to me about that?
To be honest, it’s really fun, because I think we have our own distinct sound and style, it’s really fun write stuff to be complementary to other’s talents and styles- to figure out what times do we play exactly the same thing. One of the things we try to focus on is to keep it as simple as it needs to be, not to clutter things up. One of the other things that I think is really fun for us is Scott and Gregg, as a rhythm section, leave a lot of open space. It’s very satisfying.
How do you guys write?
We write half jamming, or someone will bring in an idea. It really depends, we sort of go through these peiods were we really write a lot by jamming or play something that’s put together by Rick or me, and again just try to whittle it down to its core components. We have had 20 different iterations of the song when we go to record…part of that is trying to figure out how tightly to write a song so it really works, and where we can introduce ideas that are more experimental than when we were just jamming on the idea. Trying to figure out where you can leave room for things to happen.
The New Obits record, Moody, Standard and Poor dropped at record stores March 29th. They’re coming to the Elevens on April 7th, but I’m sure you already know that.