Brooklyn-based garage rockers Obits were every bit as chuffed to hear they’d be returning to our friendly shores as we were. Picture this: the year is 2012 and a quartet of exceptionally gifted musicians touch-down in Australia impressing even the most savvy rock ’n’ rollers with their stripped-down sound. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were gone, leaving thousands of Obits covets in their wake. I recently caught up with guitarist Sohrab Habibion who explained why they like to love audiences and leave them wanting more.
“We’ve done a bunch of touring but we sort of do it in little chunks. We try not to string too much stuff in a row because we realised that more than two weeks on tour doesn’t work for us. Truth is, I don’t think we’re as good a band after a couple of weeks on the road. I have a kid now and Rick’s [lead vox and guitar] son is getting older, so being away and playing fourteen nights in a row can be gruelling, especially if we’ve had one too many beers on those fourteen nights in a row, you know?” he joked. “And we definitely run the risk of that in Australia.”
“We had so much fun last time and this time we actually get to play – I know I’ll say it wrong – is it Geelong? [G-Town actually sounds quite exotic in his strong Brooklyn accent]. Last time we didn’t get to go there or Canberra, so it’ll be cool to go to a couple of new places. Last time we came to Australia was the first time we’d come as the Obits. Rick had been here with the Hot Snakes and myself and Alexis our drummer toured with Girls Against Boys, but Greg our bass player had never been at all. It was a real treat. Everywhere we went the people were really cool, and honestly the food and the coffee is so good. You guys do the coffee thing really well.”
After discussing his favourite blends, the conversation inevitably turned to his true love and passion: rocking out. “We’re all huge fans of rock and roll and there’s so much good music coming out of Australia and there has been for so long. I was thinking about this recently, and I don’t know if it’s because you guys are cut off the way you are or what it is, but in a really lovely way Australian bands just do their own thing. Not to say you don’t have any connection to the UK or American music scene, but it doesn’t seem indebted to it. It seems really and truly self-realised.”
Among the bands Obits cite as influences are Forte favourites Cosmic Psychos, but the praise doesn’t stop there. “Going back to Vanda and Young – they’re such great songwriters and producers. I love the way those early Easy Beats records sound … and then there’s the whole realm of punk – Radio Birdman and The Scientists. The list just goes on.”
Added to that list are Kids of Zoo and The Peep Tempel, two local bands handpicked by them to open their show at The Barwon Club. “We aim to have a local support at every show we play. The way we look at it, it’s our one night in whatever that city may be and everything that happens on that night affects us like the beer or the food, whether people are friendly or not and if we like the bands we’re playing with. So we try really hard to pick bands that we like. The Peep Tempel and Kids of Zoo are two bands we thought were doing something cool and we’re excited about. I’m looking forward to meeting them and finally seeing them live.”
Obits’ critically acclaimed third album Bed Bugs  is out now through Sub Pop Records.
When&Where: The Barwon Club, Geelong – August 1 & The Revence, Melbourne – August 2
Written by Natalie Rogers