If you’re thinking the seven-year gap separating Gob’s 2007 LP Muertos Vivos from its sixth studio album, Apt. 13, is a little excessive, you’re right.
The Fraser Valley–founded unit would be the first to point this out, having endured various delays during the making of the album, from stop-start recording schedules to life changes that put its members on opposite coasts.
Four years after the act first hit the Record button, though, the Chinese Democracy of B.C. punk rock has arrived, and Gob is feeling all the better for it.
“It feels like we’ve been working so hard to get to this point,” guitarist-vocalist Theo Goutzinakis tells the Straight, letting out an exaggerated sigh as he describes the relief of finally delivering the 10-song effort (13 if you pick up the deluxe digital edition). Bassist Steven Fairweather chimes in to explain that Gob was without a record deal for a number of years, leading to scattered recording sessions at various facilities before they handed the finished product to Toronto’s New Damage Records.
“We did it from our homes and friends’ studios, which led to it taking longer than it normally would because there was no deadline. We took our time cooking it,” he says.
Taking a break from rehearsals, the pair are found on a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon enjoying coffees on the deck of a Main Street spot alongside drummer Gabe Mantle. Though vocalist-guitarist Tom Thacker is still at home in New York, the conversation with the rest of the quartet plays out like a Comedy Central roast, rolling through countless dirty jokes and playful jabs at each other’s expense. Often taking the brunt is Fairweather, the greenhorn of the group despite his having joined shortly after the release of Muertos Vivos.
“Seven years later and I’m still the new guy, but it’s the longest I’ve ever been in a band, really,” Fairweather says with a chuckle. The rest of the act has been together since the ’90s. “It’s been, like, 20 years now, so it makes sense. What was Metallica’s bass player? They always treated him like the new guy even though he was in the band forever.”
“It’s like that on the record too—the bass is mixed real low,” Mantle jokes of Apt. 13, alluding to the famously abysmal low-end treatment given to Metallica’s Jason Newsted on …And Justice for All. “Every year you do better, we put a couple extra dBs up in the mix,” Goutzinakis guffaws. Laughing through his pain, Fairweather counters: “After that statement, you know why nine bass players have left this band. It’s like Spinal Tap, except they don’t die. They just quit.”
Apt. 13. is just as well oiled as Gob’s comedy chops. Dialling down the detuned metal chug and social upheaval of Muertos Vivos, the follow-up is a vast and varied effort cramming fist-pumping punk, gold-dust-flecked ’70s glam, acoustic campfire anthems, and more into Thacker’s tuneful reflections on love and being in a band. Thacker wrote tracks in New York before presenting them to the group, with Fairweather explaining: “Tom had some well-executed ideas that he brought to the table, the bones of the song. We added the muscle and some skin.”
“Cold” brings out the familiarly fuzzy pop-punk melodies and midtempo bop of older Gob, the track finding Thacker singing about non-stop tour cycles bleeding into his family time. As the songwriter told the Straight earlier this year, the tune came out of the frustration of bouncing between trips with Gob and Sum 41, in which he plays guitar. But with a full cross-Canada tour coming up this fall, the band says the malaise was only temporary.
“That’s part of Tom, but Tom loves touring,” Mantle confirms, noting that the band has plenty of travel plans behind Apt. 13. “He’s itching to get out; we all are. We play that song with our tongues in cheek.”
Amusingly, the first Apt. 13 single issued to radio stations earlier this summer was “Radio Hell”, in which an artist bleeding for their art laments a lack of sincerity in today’s musical landscape atop the brawniest garage-rawk riffs this side of the Hives. “Terpsichore” takes a tube-busting approach to sock-hop pop and Greek mythology, though the titular musical goddess’s determination to break up a band seems against character. Likewise, “Same as It Ever Was” is anything but, with the group embracing chorus-line theatricality, guitar leads you’d expect on Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack, and a cymbal-crashing shuffle from Mantle.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if the song sounds ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, or new-millennium, if it’s a great song to my ears we want to do it,” Goutzinakis says of the band’s move toward a more expansive sound. “That’s kind of the cool thing with us as a band: coming together and trying to make something unique and cool for Gob.”
While two decades have passed since Gob began, the group is still attached to the old songs, even gearing up for a 20th-anniversary celebration of its speedy self-titled EP. The plans are loose, but the nine-song debut will be rerecorded with the current lineup and issued on vinyl. Between the new album, touring, and anniversary plans, Gob’s hiatus days are apparently behind it.
“We’re not going to let ourselves slip back into seven years between records. We’re doing that EP thing and a whole bunch of exciting new things. I can’t divulge everything,” Goutzinakis says, pointing at his pals as he concludes, “It’s stuff that they don’t even know about.”
It takes a split second for Fairweather to shout out his best guess as to what that could mean: “A new bass player—again!”
Gob plays a release party for Apt. 13 on Friday (August 22) at the Imperial, where CD copies of the album will be given away with entry.