Too many people tend to place their musical idols on pedestals, expecting them to say or do something profound every single day. They expect them to say everything in just the proper way as to not offend anyone, or make any waves.
Such was not the case when I spoke with Marty McCoy of Bobaflex, ahead of their album release show on Friday, August 25 at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. Our conversation was wide-ranging, touching on the history of the band, the new album and his views on doing what makes him and his bandmates happy.
The origins of the band can be trace back to 1998 in Mason, WV, as that is generally accepted as to when the band first came into being.
“Yeah, kind of,” said McCoy (by phone). “I don’t really call it a band, as it was more of a goof-off thing where we were playing to meet girls in college. I wasn’t even in college yet, but my brother (Shaun) was (at Marshall University) and I would drive up there and sneak into the bars. We thought if we could start a band, we could meet girls. And, it worked!
“About 2003-04 we decided that working regular jobs was not fun. All I had ever wanted to do was be in a band. So, I convinced my brother to pay this joint and do this thing for real. After a while, my brother and I got real serious about it. We were just having fun on the weekends, and we were like ‘No, that’s not what we want to do. We want to be serious and be a real band.’ That’s when it got serious.”
For the last fifteen years, they’ve steadily played well-over 100 (many times over 150) dates on the road while they tour. But as McCoy admits, touring is not for everyone.
“It’s a fun world, but it’s not for everybody. I’ve seen people come out and absolutely fall in love with it. And, I’ve seen people come out on the road and within a week want to go home. It’s for a different kind of person.”
With the music scene in Columbus and Ohio still seemingly relatively unknown outside of the state, McCoy has known for many years that the city is a special place, which he now calls home.
“Ohio has a really good music scene. Being from West Virginia, I remember the first time I came to Columbus… it was the Alrosa Villa. I walked in, there was a huge crowd, p.a. system and lights. There was an all-girl punk band that went on first, then an industrial goth band went on, then a metal band and I was like ‘This is where it’s at!’ I’d never seen anything like that.
“I fell in love with Columbus and moved here. There’s this huge scene, a nice big city and there’s everything you could ever want. Now, there’s a lot of bands coming out of Ohio that are starting to take over the rock world. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Their new album, “Eloquent Demons” has a much more mature sound than any of their previous efforts, being a testament to where they’re at in 2017. It’s available everywhere on August 25.
Ed – read our review of “Eloquent Demons” HERE
“I keep hearing that. People are telling us that this is another level for the band. For me, we’ve been on the road for about five years straight. I think we’re really at, as far as writing and knowing each other… it was a really easy album to write. Our manager, Doug (Weber), he’s from New Jersey and a wonderful guy. He calls up one day (last year), after we had done something like 160 shows, and said he setup an album release show for August 25, 2017. So, ‘Get in the studio and write a record.’ We work really well under pressure, so it’s like go, go, go.
“I think it’s all the parts of the band working perfectly together and everybody’s on the same page. There’s less guitar, there’s less layering. It’s just like ‘here’s the band.’ It’s not anything crazy going on, it’s just the band rocking out together.”
What really stands out on this album are the harmonies of the band, which are reminiscent of The Eagles, Queen, etc.
“That’s one of the things that we always did differently when we were coming up as a band. In the early 2000’s, nobody sang together. It was always somebody screaming, or one guy screaming and one guy singing the light parts. I grew up on The Eagles and Pink Floyd and KISS, where guys could sing… even The Cars. Most people don’t know they had multiple singers in that band. That’s what I grew up on. My dad was a bluegrass player and everybody switched instruments and sang. My dad always said, ‘If you can’t sing, why are you in the band?’
“So, I always thought (multiple singers) was normal. I just thought that was the way it’s supposed to go. So, it gives our album different layers and texture, not sounding the same all the way through. I’ve always been a huge fan of that. It was a double-edged sword coming up, with record labels saying ‘This is really interesting, but we don’t want anything to do with it. The album doesn’t sound cohesive.’ They wanted us to sound the same from the beginning to the end.
This is an all-too-true happenstance in the music industry, with people thinking a band cannot stray too far from a ‘hit’ sound on any of their songs. This tends to make for predictable and, dare I say ‘boring’ music.
“But, we’ve now come into our own,” McCoy continued. “On the last couple of albums, we took a deep breath and said, ‘We don’t care what anybody thinks. We’ve been doing this long enough that we want to do what makes us happy. And, people like it. It’s evolved into what it is today. I’m really happy because I’m in my favorite band.”
I opined that this must feel as though a weight is being lifted off the band’s shoulders…
“Absolutely! I remember being on TVT Records and they would say, ‘This song is four minutes long. Radio will never play it.’ So, I’ve got to the attitude now that radio’s not going to play it anyway. It’s Bobaflex. They don’t care or they hate us. Let’s go ahead and do what we want. We took that attitude about seven years ago and it’s been the best attitude we’ve ever had.
“Everything now sounds the same. Everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon where the guitar has to sound like a keyboard and it all sounds the same to me. It’s like, have you heard the new single from blah, blah, blah? Yeah, it sounds like the last single from blah, blah, blah.”
But, what are his thoughts on people liking their new album?
“If you like it, that’s outstanding and I’m really happy. If you don’t like it, stick it up your ass and go on somewhere else. That’s how I’ve always felt about it.
“It’s a crumbling industry. The people at the record labels don’t know anymore. They have no idea what’s going to sell and no idea what’s cool anymore. The kids can discover this all on their own. The trendsetters are the people within the music industry that think they are trendsetters. They have about as much of a clue as anyone else about what’s going to be big and cool. They don’t know.”
The standout track, not surprisingly, is Off With Your Head one of the quieter tracks on the album. I was curious as to what was on his mind with this song.
“It’s about this whole instant gratification thing, ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ I don’t want to sound like a prick, but it’s like… come on, man! Remember when people talked to each other and went to concerts? I’m old enough where I use social media and I ‘get’ social media, but to sit around and take a bunch of pictures of yourself constantly, everybody’s fake, it’s just… get off my lawn! (laughter)”
The first single from the album was Hey You, with the video paying homage to Pink Floyd’s “Live in Pompeii” performance. Beautiful in its simplicity, they make it their own with their unique sound and ‘take’ on this classic song.
“It was me and Tommy (Johnson, drummer). We’re both huge Pink Floyd fans. But, we didn’t do it exactly the same. Our stance was what if Pink Floyd was our age right now, we think this was how they would do it. The guitars are little beefier and the drums are little bigger sounding. I just wanted to pretend like I was in Pink Floyd right now. And, it was worth every penny.
“A lot of people didn’t ‘get’ the nod to Pompeii. So, in the new video for Long Time Coming, there’s this scene where we sing five-part harmony and we do the Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ thing. So, we started thinking about doing little throwbacks to our heroes. Let’s not rip them off or sound like them. We just wanted to throw little Easter eggs in there, so that people that know would understand what our influences are.”
It was refreshing to hear the unfiltered thoughts on many things from McCoy ahead of the band’s album release show in Columbus on Friday, August 25. As the saying goes, don’t go changing.
Bobaflex – Hey You