Article by: Katie Wiley | Photos courtesy of Oberhofer | Posted: 05/04/2012
How do you solve a problem like Brad Oberhofer? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? Without any more references to “The Sound of Music,” it’s difficult to pin him down to any one genre because the Brooklyn-based frontman of Oberhofer---(yes, that’s his last name and his band name)--is too diversely talented to stick to one thing for long. And what can you expect from a musician whose mother is an opera singer? Not only that, Oberhofer is classically trained himself, studying Music Theory at New York University. All of this is made clear with the singer/songwriter’s meticulously-crafted, newly released album, Time Capsules II.
Time Capsules II encompasses traditional rock and pop styles, combined with electronic and world instrumentation, all shoved through a retro or maybe a surf-pop filter. The album features a consistent variation in style along with a particular kind of sadness, but still manages to maintain an upbeat vibe that lulls the broken hearted. It’s safe to say that a few songs off the album have been welcome additions to break-up playlists across the globe, but somehow, underneath the melancholia there is an intensity that shines through.
That same intensity is ever present in Brad Oberhofer himself. Leveling out that passion and intensity, a true genuineness emerges. It is clear that he puts himself entirely into his music, which is why anyone who has seen the indie pop-rock band live would tell you that Brad Oberhofer drifts into a whole other world while he’s on stage performing. Sure, he may be busy on another plane of existence entirely, but whatever plane that may be, it’s quite clear he’s in the right place.
Although this former Tacoma, Wash. native is currently living in New York, he confesses, “I may as well just be living anywhere, honestly. I’m not really there, ever. I’m not really anywhere for very long.” Of course, Oberhofer is speaking in reference to the band’s nearly non-stop tour, jet-setting across the U.S. and now returning to Europe.
Recently playing the famed Coachella music festival was a mad dash. Brad explains, “I only got a chance to see like, three shows. We got there the day before we played and for the week in between, flew to London and then went to Paris, and I got back really late the night before we played.” He also shares his plans for the following night in New York, where he will be playing with Mark Hoppus, one third of the venerable pop-punk band, Blink182.
“Tonight we’re driving into New York and playing at the Mark Hoppus show, then driving directly from the show to the airport and flying to New Orleans to do a session. Then we’re playing a show with Thurston Moore [of Sonic Youth], then we’re flying back and have two days off, then we’re flying to Europe and touring Europe for two and a half weeks, then we are back here and playing Bonnaroo.”
One would think that such a hectic life of travel, music and lack of sleep would keep Brad Oberhofer from any moments of solitude or relaxation, but that isn’t the case.
“We all bring our bikes with us on tour when we’re touring the U.S and we go on bike rides. And we have frisbees so we all play a lot of frisbee. I go running every morning. This morning we had extra time and I went running in Ohio and found my way to this nature reservation. I had my iPhone with me so I could look on the map where I was in the forest and I was just a dot in this sea of trees. I found my way three miles back to our drummer’s house through the forest. It was a pretty epic journey. I crossed a river…it was awesome.” He happily continues, “Those are the kinds of things that are important to do on tour to stay mentally healthy.”
On the topic of what influences him musically, he pauses and then thoughtfully crafts his response:
“People ask that question a lot. You know like, ‘what are your influences’ or if other music is influential. I don’t really believe that when you’re making genuine art that other bands are directly influential, you know? I could say what I enjoy listening to, but I think anything that influences your music is not controllable by you. You could hear a random sound that subconsciously infiltrates your memory banks and that would cause you to write some melody related to that random sound you heard, or you could get some song stuck in your head that was only playing in some car that was driving by and you don’t even know who it was by, but you were really attached to that melody or something. I think if you’re directly influenced by bands, where you’re like ‘Oh man I’m going to do this thing like this band,’ then it’s not really coming from your heart. It’s coming from your brain--which is cool too. Well, I don’t know. I actually don’t know if I can make a distinction between your brain and your heart, but you know what I mean.”
Not only do we know exactly what he means, we can’t help but appreciate his music even more.
Oberhofer - "Away Frm U"