You wouldn’t be too hard pressed to come up with a lengthy list of bands to have popped up over the last two decades that borrow from seminal Canadian pop-punk outfit GOB. Coming up with a list of bands that GOB borrows from, on the other hand, is a much tougher task – especially after getting a taste of their latest full-length release, Apt 13.
Over the course of their career (which dates back to 1993 and includes a catalog of seven LPs), the members of GOB – vocalist/guitarist Tom Thacker, vocalist guitarist Theo Goutzinakis, drummer Gabe Mantle, and bassist Steven Fairweather – have established themselves as Canadian pop punk pioneers. They’ve amassed JUNO nominations, made massively popular music videos for singles like “I Hear You Calling” and “Give Up The Grudge,” and kept legions of loyal fans packed into pits in front of the stage at countless venues – from dive bars to major festival stages the world over.
Ripe with GOB’s now-signature energetic, guitar-driven take on punk rock, Apt. 13 finds the band picking up right where they left off with 2007’s Muertos Vivos; however, the new offering leans less towards the straight-up pop influence of earlier albums and instead puts focus on a fuller, more layered rock sound that includes sonic elements of decades past. The result is a product with a depth that begs for repeat spins while keeping it as catchy and anthemic as anything they’ve put out before.
The album is GOB’s first full release in seven years, and while it’s sure to satiate fans who’ve been salivating for something new, Thacker reveals that work actually began on the record back in 2010. “It’s kind of been cursed from the start,” he says with a laugh – a fact that also informed the album’s ominous title. “There were a lot of stops and starts along the way, and I’m not superstitious or anything, but we often had to question,like, ‘What the fuck is holding everything back?’”
The potential answers to the question were many, but ultimately, it was the band not wanting to compromise on a single component of the collection. That led to the decision for Gob to self-produce the record aswell. “We’d made a lot of records and learned a lot over the years,” Thacker explains. “We know exactly how we want our songs to come off, and it keeps the Gobness of it all really unadulterated and pure.”
Indeed, the Gobness is strong with this one. Tracks like“Can’t Get Over You” and “Radio Hell” sound big and upbeat, loaded with thick, full guitars anchored by throwback punk rhythms, driving, pulsating piano licks, and backing vocals that borrow as much from The Beach Boys as they do influential ‘70s punk acts. At their very heart are the hooky choruses with huge vocal harmonies that will have longtime listeners feeling right at home. Conversely, tracks like “Tonight” bring even more vintage influence to the table, with parts that trace back to early R&B while keeping the band’s overall sonic attitude intact.
Rest assured, this is still GOB – guitar-driven, melodic, and full of pure piss and vinegar but with some fresh new elements tossed into the mix. “We made a semi-conscious decision to write more upbeat songs than the last record,” Thacker notes. “We’re all pretty stoked on life in general, and this one is more in tune with that attitude.”
And on that note, with Apt. 13 finally available for the masses and a plan to play as many Canadian and international shows as they possibly can in support of it, the guys in GOB have plenty to be stoked about. What’s more, after seven years of patiently waiting, so do the longtime fans of the pride of Canadian punk rock –often imitated, never duplicated.