Jarrod Gorbel is having a hard three days. For reasons that will soon become clear, the leading vocalist of SoCal anthemic pop duo Night Terrors of 1927 (which includes Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennett), has been waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
The Bay Bridged spoke to both Sennett and Gorbel at Outside Lands last week about their new band, the ends of their previous groups (Gorbel also went through an unceremonious end to his, The Honorary Title), popular early ‘90s children’s television shows and their new sound.
The pair met a few years ago, when Sennett produced Gorbel’s solo record. After Gorbel moved to Los Angeles, the two met up to record some songs for fun. Not only were they not intending to form a band, but that was the last thing both wanted. After releasing their Guilty Pleas EP last fall, and with a record on the way, there’s no denying their band status.
The Bay Bridged: You guys don’t sound like a breezy SoCal band; you sound like you could be from Brooklyn.
Gorbel: I’m from New York originally – Long Island. I lived in Brooklyn. Maybe that’s it. I guess it’s an East Coast guy and a West Coast guy.
TBB: In what ways did you want Night Terrors to be different from Rilo Kiley and the Honorary Title?
Sennett: At least in my case, when you’re younger, you tend to operate a little more from the hip. You tend to shoot a little more on adrenaline and enthusiasm. … There are less discussions about what you’re going to do; you just do it. I think in this band, there was a real effort to draw a map and talk about our decisions. Jarrod has Austrian lineage, and they say Austrians are the most deliberate people in the world. We’re very deliberate, very thought out. We really try to craft it and try to look at every detail, every track, every note that’s played. I think it was very exciting to only have two people, in a way, because you can really focus and control and magnify every single track, moment, word, lyric, melody.
TBB: That tells me that the band name also has a specific goal or meaning. I Googled events that happened in 1927, but I couldn’t find anything specific. What does the name refer to?
Sennett : We did this project in secrecy … (and didn’t tell our managers what we were doing). It was a guilty pleasure thing. We said, “We’re not starting a new band, don’t worry. We’re just having some fun.” And finally when we showed it to them, they were like, “Whoa, this is a band.” There was that sensibility that it’s sort of terrifying because you’re putting yourself out there again. We both thought we put bands behind us. Those words (in the band name) just made sense together. There really isn’t a secret, hidden, cipher in that. It’s just stuff we thought sounded cool. We’d tried to make up a fake meaning, and then we didn’t want to lie.
TBB: You mentioned a bad break-up with your previous bands. How difficult was it to move on from that? Did you get any thoughts creeping into your heads, like, “I don’t want this to happen again?”
Sennett: Yeah, I think it took a second. It takes (time) to establish trust with anybody. Being in a band is like being in a relationship. It’s like marrying somebody, but your baby is the art and the music and the songs. … We used to watch each other – everything we did. If I was producing, (Jarrod) would be there the whole time. Now we’ve gotten to a place where we really trust each other, and it’s neat. In the band, there is a tendency to confuse your self with your band. … In this case, we sort of talk about the band as though it’s a third entity; as if it’s its own thing. It’s not so precious.
TBB: Tell me about your touring band. You’ve got people who have played with the Jonas Brothers and the Smashing Pumpkins. Friends of yours?
Gorbel : Yeah, friends and friends of friends. We’ve actually had many drummers, but Jack Lawless (Jonases), who we’re playing with right now, has been with us the longest. We’ve had 374 bass players. Nicole Fiorentino (Pumpkins) … has been in a bunch of things. Lauren (White) was in a band, too. She’s playing keyboards. A bunch of friends came together. A lot of this was created in the studio, and it turned into a live, organic thing. We’ve got a good hodgepodge, an eclectic mix of characters.
TBB: Blake, you had roles on two great shows that I watched religiously as a kid: Boy Meets World and Salute Your Shorts. Remind me what roles you played.
Sennett: I played, uh… If you don’t remember the role, man, then how much did you love the show? I don’t know if you were such a devotee after all.
Sennett: I don’t remember. (Boy Meets World) was a fun show. There were good times. I’m not sure it was the highest level of art, but it was really fun and good people and good times.
TBB: Do you have any plans to earn a walk-on role on Girl Meets World?
Sennett: Not really. It’s not my scene.
Gorbel: I do.
Sennett: Jarrod is, though. To those out there: www.jarrodgorbel-dot-com. He’s looking for acting roles on sitcoms.
TBB: In your music, you use samples and hip hop beats. Why’d you go that route?
Sennett: The first record I ever bought was Run DMC. When I was in Rilo Kiley, we worked with Mike Elizondo, who was one of Dre’s main producers. I loved that world and probably will always love that world. Jarrod, his Run DMC was Motley Crue. So he sort of has this soaring vocal thing, and I sort of have this rap thing. We put those two things together, and it becomes Night Terrors of 1927.
TBB: Is there anything you wish I would have asked you but didn’t?
Gorbel: Oh my God, you want us to do your job for you!
Sennett: Let’s think of a good question.
Gorbel: Ask me about my feelings. “How do I feel?”
TBB: How do you feel?
Gorbel: I poked my eye. I poked it hard.
Sennett: That’s why he’s wearing sunglasses.” [Gorbel removes sunglasses, revealing Jeff Goldblum’s mutated face from The Fly.]
Gorbel: It’s healing. It really puffed up to this crazy, crazy –
Sennett: He pokes his eye. His eye was insane. Then he fell tits over ass, and he tried to get into the little car to come here and slammed his head. Poor Jarrod. He’s doing the best he can.
Gorbel: I’m so accident-prone this week. I’m, like, on 57 antibiotics to make my eyeball safe from the infection. I can’t eat anything. I’m delusional. I tried to lift the big bass cabinet, trying to be, like, all, [manly voice], “Yeah, yeah, I got this.” I fell, all curled up like a little water bug; crushed.
TBB: Not only are you doing my job for me, but you’re giving me my lead.
Sennett: Jarrod Gorbel is having a hard three days. That’s the lead.
Follow writer Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter and RomiTheWriter.Tumblr.com.