Gob's Tom Thacker
Published Feb 11, 2009It has been so long. So long, in fact, that most fans don't even recognize that reference from Gob's 2003 release The World According to Gob. OK, well, some may. And it has been just over a year since the Vancouver quartet released Muerto Vivos, so they certainly haven't vanished from recent history. But, after 15 years of punk rock fun it sort of feels like they have... right? Well, lead singer Tom Thacker is ensuring that thought doesn't become a reality. Touring Canada during the dead of winter, he took some time to talk with Exclaim! about their current tour, cavity searches and his love for the accordion.
You're wrapping up your Canadian tour shortly, how's has it gone?
It's been great. Only a few of us got cavity searched at the border [laughs]!
Well, one of the guys from the Johnstones rode with us. All he talked about the whole time was, "Yeah, cavity search," and he got it. And then one unnamed member of our band got it as well - but he wanted it. He was real giddy about it.
How have the shows been?
The shows have been fucking great. They've been selling out - we've sold out on the tour I guess [laughs]. It helps the tour is during the winter, because there aren't many bands crazy enough to tour now - but we are. Everyone wants to have fun in the winter as much as in the summer.
Any interesting stories from the road this time around?
Well one night we were walking around having a few drinks, and I decided to give one of the guys from the Johnstones asshole lessons. I saw Theo walking up ahead, so I told him "Lesson one: Go jump on his back." So he went and did it, and knocked Theo's iPhone to the ground. Theo turned around with a look - the look like he's ready to destroy - grabbed him and threw him down the hall [laughs]. It was like a ten-foot throw and then he slid another ten feet. Theo turns into a real monster!
Your last album Muertos Vivos has been out for over a year now. What sort of response are you guys getting now?
I think people are totally stoked on it. We were really happy about it. We play a lot of it live, about eight songs, and we mix it in with a lot of old songs - we try to have a well-rounded set. It gets a really good response. Songs like "Wake Up," which is more of a dance-like song with the drum machines, have been getting a great response. There was this guy who came out and was a total "Soda" fan back in the day - über punk guy - and he was so stoked about "Wake Up." That's cool - it's not just new fans that are super in to it, older fans are getting in to it as well.
Because the album has a different feel to it - much darker than previous releases - did it alienate some of your older fans?
I don't think it really alienated the punk fans necessarily. Certain punk rock is dark - stuff like the Misfits is dark. But there's a lot of political stuff in it too, so I think it fits right in. Some of it is our heaviest stuff we've done, and some of it is very different. We try to make a different record every time. And we did exactly what we wanted on the record. We self-produced it and approved everything that went through.
It was four years between releases and a lot of people called it a comeback, but the band rejected that statement. Why is that?
We said it so many times, "Don't call it a come back." It was four years between albums, but we toured the last record for about a year and a half after it came out. And then we changed management, changed labels and changed our bass player. All of that takes time. We started to work on the record, but we didn't do it all in one go. I was living in New York and we were producing the whole thing. So we'd record a few songs and then go away from it.
Why did the band decide to break up the recording sessions?
Well, when you're producing your own record you're the motivator, you're the quality control manager - you're looking at it from every different angle. But then at the same time you're the artist and you may do one take and say that's all I want to do. But as the producer you come in and say you can do it better than that. We were wearing all these different hats, so it's good to get away from it. You can get burnt out from it.
Are the band looking to find a producer for your next album?
I do like to have a producer there to be a mediator. But once we started working on our record, it not only gave us confidence, but it gave us an awareness that we know what we want to do on our songs, so we should do that. And we always did - we always had a hand in production - but it was never left up to us to choose every sound. Now instead of someone asking what we thought about something, we were asking ourselves, "What do I think about this?" And we'll probably do it next time. There are a lot of producers out there that I like, but I think for us it's best that we do it. We're control freaks.
When can we expect the next album?
This is our last long tour for a while. We're planning on putting out another single, but we really want to sit down and start writing for the next album. I'm writing all the time. I may wake up, go for a walk and write something. Anytime I'm idle I'll write, or pick up a new instrument to learn. I always need a challenge.
Are you currently learning a new instrument?
Right now I'm learning the accordion.
Will there be accordion on the next album?
Possibly. I've started to write with it, as I'm getting better. But it's a really hard instrument. I actually don't play anything until I'm pretty good at it. We'll see though - I love the sound of it. So possibly, there may be some accordion on the next Gob record.
You've been doing Gob for 15 years now. Are you surprised it has lasted this long?
Definitely. I think that when we first started out we never really had any thoughts of anything. I just wanted to get the hell out of suburban Vancouver and see the world. And then things just got busier and busier and I don't think we've really thought about it. But looking back, yeah. I mean, now we've come to an age where everyone can release a record basically. But not everyone can do what we've done. It's definitely surprising. There are a lot of bands out there, and we're one that has stuck around doing this - we've done a lot of shit. We've toured the world basically, played every type of venue and had these experiences that a lot of bands want to have.
Has it turned out to be what you expected when you just wanted to get out of Vancouver?
I try not to have expectations. I try to think about just the music. We've had quite a bit of commercial success, but I don't really want to base my opinion of how good of a band is based on that. That can really kill you as an artist I think. I just want to make records that I think are great and perform to people who want to listen to it. As far as expectations, I expect to make a fucking good record every time.