Oberhofer come back to London and tell us their future plans
Despite an impressive online following, this Brooklyn-based foursome had only played live in Britain twice over the last two years. Aside from the abundance of YouTube recordings, they appeared to be one of the most talked about bands on MySpace.
On first impressions, it may be difficult to define their music. While critics have drawn comparisons with a proliferation of indie groups such as Vampire Weekend, The Animal Collective and Two Door Cinema Club, Oberhofer have an additional quality – something more poppy and user-friendly that sets them apart from the other bands on the scene. Interestingly, the band’s description of their sound, “coincidental pop”, posted on their Facebook page, is the most fitting.
Anyone who finds this two-word summary perplexing won’t take long to realise that it summarises the Oberhofer experience in a nutshell. Especially when confronted with the boyish charm of 21-year-old frontman, Brad Oberhofer. During the pre-concert interview he was excitable and talkative, but at the same time, confident and self-assured. He shared his impressions of London and was happy to go off on various tangents – with subjects ranging from British fast food to London’s cycle paths. Undoubtedly eccentric, he also came across as a very intelligent guy.
The alternative/mainstream dichotomy became ever more apparent in Oberhofer’s live performance. While the Cargo venue was packed with London hipsters – a crowd that wouldn’t look out of place in an art school club night, Brad’s clean-cut stage persona conveyed an unnerving similarity to that of the lead singer from the Jonas Brothers. The songs, Gotta Go, Away From You and I Could Go were romantic, up-beat and catchy and he performed them with a zealous enthusiasm that would make Chris Martin look like Leonard Cohen.
Overall, he had a potentially challenging crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Perhaps this was because everything is done with a hint of irony. He appeared to be very aware of his pop star charisma, and played upon this continuously.
This band is destined for big things. With charm, musical talent and songwriting skills to boot, their far-reaching popularity is certainly more than just a coincidence.
Frontman Brad Oberhofer replied to our questions just before going onstage.
I’d like to know a bit more about your background. How did you guys come together as a band?
It started out just me, recording stuff in my parent’s house in Tacoma, and when I went to university in New York, I continued to record stuff in my dorm room. The impetus for sending out music to various people came when my parent’s house went on fire. At the time I was living in a rubbish apartment in Brooklyn. It wasn’t a good situation to be in. So, it felt like the right time to really make a go of it. Luckily people were really into my music. They helped me organise a show in Brooklyn and put together a band. So far, there have been a few different line-ups, but the one right now feels amazing. We’re all sort of like brothers.
Would you say that the environment around you, for example, your hometown Tacoma, has had an influence on your band’s sound?
I really don’t think so. It’s definitely had an influence on the content and the melodies, but simultaneously, I don’t think it had any more or less of an impact than anything else did.
Who are your major musical influences?
I think that every musical influence is of equal importance to everything else. I don’t think you can control what your brain picks up.
So what kinds of things inspire you?
In Brooklyn, I have a piano beside my window. I play it almost every morning while looking at the world outside. I ride my bike a lot. I also go running almost every day.
What are your impressions of London?
I would like to live here for a while. I like the history and how culturally rich London is. America is young. While I like living there, I long for some sort of cultural or historical root. London has so many years of history. It’s culturally diverse, yes, but the history is still there. It’s in the buildings, the underground, the trees.
What other things do you get up to when you’re not working on your music?
I have a ton of instruments in my room. I like to have nothing scheduled so I can just practise them. I could do that forever. In fact, I could sit in my room for 20 years, as long as I had a food supply and a treadmill.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, we’re going on tour for a long time. We’re touring America and Europe. I’m ready for it. In fact, I’m looking forward to gaining a lot of understanding of European countries in general. We’re also going to get a lot more time to do stuff. Hopefully we’ll play a load of festivals too. Those are the plans. Other than that I don’t like to make plans.
Photos: Linas Justice