The year 2014 was filled with transition, opportunities and growth. That was why I felt it was perfect that I had the opportunity to ring in the New Year with the Canadian punk band, GOB.
(New Years Eve Photos At Better Than Freds by Cara Jones)
I heard the first single, Radio Hell, from their new album Apt. 13, this summer while driving down the street listening to a local rock station. I was so excited and relieved to hear the band back on the airwaves after a seven year break because the truth was, I did feel like I was living in radio hell.
I swear, if I heard the song Summer by Calvin Harris, or Rude by Magic one more time I was ready to rip the radio from car. The hard rock beat and rhythmic chorus of Tom Thacker’s vocals, supported by guitar player, vocalist and fellow founding GOB member Theo Goutzinakis, the drumming heartbeat of the band, Gabe Mantle, and soulful bassist Steven Fairweather, was without exaggeration, a breath of fresh air.
I was introduced to GOB while in high school and their song and video, “Soda” became one of the first viral videos of its time on Much Music.
“This was my first video. It was made around the mid 90’s. I shot it on 16mm film then edited it to Beta Sp. To our surprise Much Music loved it and put it on steady rotation. It was fun to make but very stressful. We tried to capture a punky sort of summer feel and I think we did it!” – Peter Papas
The band’s high energy and playful dynamic had fans loving their sound worldwide. Over the course of their career, which dates back to 1993 and includes a catalog of seven LPs, the members of Gob – vocalist/guitarist Tom Thacker, vocalist guitarist Theo Goutzinakis, drummer Gabe Mantle, and bassist Steven Fairweather – have established themselves as Canadian pop punk pioneers. They’ve amassed JUNO nominations, made massively popular music videos for singles like “I Hear You Calling” and “Give Up The Grudge,” and kept legions of loyal fans packed into front-stage pits at countless venues – from dive bars to major festival stages the world over. (GOB BIO)
During their break from touring the band kept busy with other projects including lead singer Tom Thacker’s involvement with the punk band, Sum 41, where he replaced guitarist Dave Baksh 2006, and was elevated to full-time member in 2009.
I caught up with members Steven Fairweather and Theo Goutzinakis, not only to capture their bond in family portraiture, but also to talk to them about their new album, Apt. 13, the process of independently creating the album, and to reflect on some of the things they have learned over the years.
(Family Portraits of Steven and Theo by Cara Jones)
Gob has recently released the album Apt. 13 after a seven year break. How does it feel to be back together touring, and what are you guys hoping to achieve in the New Year?
Steven: Um, Weight loss!
It has been kind of sporadic these past couple of years with Tom’s involvement with Sum 41, so we really want to keep the momentum with the first single recently being released and the second single to be released soon (Walking Alone). We want to just keep hitting the road and go to places we haven’t been yet, or places we haven’t been to in a while. We haven’t been to the States in like…
Theo: God, like ten years?
Steven: So get back to the States and over to Europe, that is our hope I think.
Do you guys find there are a lot of your old fans coming out to see the shows and a lot of new fans mixing in the crowd?
Theo: Yes, we are definitely seeing a mixed grade of people coming out to the shows. It’s awesome! We are meeting a lot of great new people as well.
Steven: If you think about it, Soda came out almost 20 years ago, so if you were having a kid then they are now of age to come to our shows. There has been a couple times that we have met second generation GOB fans which is awesome…but at the same time sad, because you then feel super old.
(Theo and Steven Laugh.)
I had read how Tom and yourself, Theo, had created that video for Soda and just sent it into Much Music.
Theo: Yeah my cousin made that video with a wind up 16 mm camera for like $1600. Our whole goal was the just make a fun video to show our sense of humour. We wanted to build a ramp so that we could jump our bikes into the lake.
Steven: Did they want the video to be something else and you said, “No, No!”
Theo: The record label wanted to do “You’re too Cool” for a single but we said we wanted to do Soda because it was more of a punk rock song. We didn’t think it was going to be played on Much Music– we just wanted to do a fun video, and my cousin had all these ideas. It came out to be one of our best videos.
When I thought about how you made the video Soda and compared it to how you made this Album on your own, you had the artistic freedom. Did it feel similar to back in those days by doing it the way you wanted to do it?
Theo: This album was different because we were actually doing it on our own, but we also ran the mic cords, setting up, recording it ourselves. Normally in a studio they would have someone doing this for you but we were doing absolutely everything, trying on different amps, different microphones recording, and getting rid of stuff we didn’t like. We took our time, right down to the whole producing, engineering and then mixing it too. Everything on our own. That was the first time that’s ever happened.
Steven: We started it off by recording in a house where we were all living together. Me, Theo and Tom were living together and we had little studio rooms set up. There wasn’t money rolling with the clock where we had to rush to do anything so Theo could take his time, set everything up and try different sounds. We would wake up and go for walks on the beach together, it was kind of romantic actually. (haha).
Steven: We would get a tea and go back to the house and start working. That was our day for quite some times. It was really cool!
Theo: You look really good today by the way (Theo says to Steven)
Steven: Why thank you, I had a shower!
You look kind of like that vampire from True Blood. Yeah, totally you look like Eric Northman!
Steven: I have never gotten that before, I need to get that in writing!
Don’t worry I will include it in my blog..Haha!
I am a bit of a Youth advocate and I work with youth a lot who are young artists and I try to help them with incorporating business and art. As a band that has been together for twenty years, if you could go back and talk to your younger selves what advice would you give in regards to the business of music?
Theo: I would definitely go back and kick my own ass!
Theo: There are things that you wouldn’t want to change because you have gotten to where you are beccause of how it turned out. At the beginning you don’t really know the ins-and-outs of record labels.
Steven: Well you saw the death of the record label.
Theo: Yeah, but we were still on labels.
Steven: What would be your top two lessons you would teach young Theo? Deloran style, man!
Steven: I would think it would be to just stick with it! The one thing that seems to break up bands more than anything is time and it’s hard to deal with other people, just don’t give up easily.
In the past seven years a lot of personal growth can happen. You have still been working together and doing a lot of different things but do you find as individuals, personally, coming together as a group, has that changed as you have changed?
Steven: There has been a lot of change in our lives but GOB has remained that one constant thing. With loss and stuff like that, GOB has stayed constant as we have lost people, but also gained with friends having babies, seeing friends kids grow up. Your right, it has been a lot of stuff.
Theo: The excitement of going into create this album remains the same.
I was really exited myself to hear your new album this summer on the radio. I personally felt there was a bit of a lull in music on the radio, and I truthfully think you probably took a break at the perfect time.
Theo: It was definitely time for GOB to take the radio back because we have been living in Radio Hell!
If you could describe your album to someone who had never heard your sound before, how would you describe it?
Theo: Really good!
Hahah, and what does that sound like?
Theo: It’s really energetic, I think the songs are well written and catchy. Every GOB album that comes out is a little bit different, so no surprise that this one is a bit different from the last. It’s a mixture of past GOB albums but holds its own.
Steven: I would say it’s pretty rock and roll.
Theo: We are really proud of it too. To create it, think of it, and get together to record it having done all the work ourselves, then to see it come out. It’s so great to see that people can just download it and have our art to enjoy. That’s pretty amazing I think.