F-ckin’ chillin’ out with Chopin

Gob’s Tom Thacker looks back on two decades in Canadian punk

Tom Thacker, frontman for legendary Canadian punk quartet Gob, has creatively grown since the group rose to fame in the mid ‘90s. The band, which plays Winnipeg’s favourite Osborne Village institution Ozzy’s on Oct. 31, did not always view its music as artistically important.

“We started out feeling like, ‘Most music is fucking bullshit,’” Thacker says. “We just felt like, ‘Fuck everyone’. We thought all artists took themselves too seriously.”

The Juno-nominated band includes Thacker on vocals and guitar, Theo Goutzinakis on guitar, Steven Fairweather on bass and Gabe Mantle on percussion. On their newest album, Apt. 13, Thacker set out to capture a more upbeat tone.

“I made a semi-conscious decision to make Apt. 13 more fun,” Thacker says. “I wanted it to be lighter, a little closer to where we started. We’re not too serious on stage. When we go play a show, it’s a fun time. Our last record, Muertos Vivos, was dark and dreary. I wanted to step away from that.”

When reflecting on the band’s early releases, Thacker does not mince words.

“We were so anti-establishment back then, we started to not care about the music,” he says. “Like the prank phone calls on [the 1997 album] Ass Seen On TV are amazing. But the music on that album is the weakest we’ve ever made. We had to wake up. We’re musicians after all. Let’s take our music seriously. Our next record, How Far Shallow Takes You, is completely serious.”

Thacker divides his time between Gob and playing guitar for fellow Canadian punk act Sum 41. His Gob bandmates are fine with the arrangement, though Thacker admits that “I don’t think their initial reaction was an amazing one.

“I think everybody understood. Everybody else has jobs. I think everybody can see that it also benefits Gob as well, except when I have to go on tour. In Gob, there’s a lot more responsibility for me as a writer and a performer. Working with Sum 41, Deryck [Whibley] writes almost everything. I do sing a lot with them but there’s less pressure on me.”

Thacker finds contemporary musical influence in unexpected places.

“I love listening to punk rock but that’s what we make,” he says. “We can’t just listen to it all the time because then, you are gonna sound like all the other bands. We try to have our own sound. That’s hard to do when there’s thousands of bands out there. But I listen to a lot of synth-pop stuff. LCD Soundsystem, Kanye West. And if I’m fuckin’ chillin’ out, I’ll listen to Chopin.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 29, 2014)

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