Interview: Jarrod Gorbel from The Honorary Title

Jarrod Gorbel — lead vocals and guitar, Aaron Kamstra — bass and keyboards, Jon Wiley — guitar, and Adam Boyd on drums, make up The Honorary Title. Based in Brooklyn, the band started in 2003 with Gorbel and Kamstra playing gigs on the New York City club circuit. In 2004 the group released their full-length debut Anything Else but the Truth. On the heels of this critically-acclaimed, Shortlist-nominated album, the group recruited Wiley and Boyd, and The Honorary Title began to tour nationally with such diverse groups as Switchfoot, Taking Back Sunday and AC Newman.

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jarrod Gorbel for a one-on-one interview about the band, their new album, what inspires them, and what’s next for the group.

How would you describe the growth of the band and the sound of the band from the previous albums to this album?

Jarrod: Well basically the first record was more folky- intimate stripped down lo-fi indie rock kinda sound. The songs weren’t that changed from the way they started. Whereas the second record the songs were produced as a band and kind of uh… just obvious more layers, more guitar, more keyboards. It was a natural evolution of the songs and everything. It was more mature.

Right. Now was there an album that you heard, um, growing up that really like changed your life, and convinced you that music was your future?

Jarrod : Probably when I was really young and I heard Motley Crue ‘Smoking in the Boys Room’, and I saw that band and I like that video Home Sweet Home and it was kinda cheesy stuff like that I was like ew! You know, I thought that it seemed very intriguing and larger than life and kinda theatrical in a sense and it seemed amazing and just so close to what I’m doing right now.

What were your inspirations for the new album?

Jarrod: The standard kind of things, ah, um, heartbreak, depression, um, sexual situations, ah, drugs, um, families that are dysfunctional, that kind of stuff.

Now I read online that your intention of the new album was to communicate dark emotions and at the same time to not try to take yourselves too seriously. Is there like a one certain song on the album that you think captures that the best?

Jarrod: I think a lot of songs, you know, are very serious, 100% serious, but there are songs like, Along the Way and Apologize which are lyrically based, you know, they’re about a relationship or some deep loving relationship. Love. Love is so beautiful and pretty. Basically, Apologize is basically really sarcastic, kind of when you’ve reached that point where you’re so sick of your significant other, they’re driving you insane and Along the Way is about really loving the person you’re with but kind of not being ready to settle down and give them all of yourself. In other words, kind of infidelity, stuff like that.

Now the artwork with the new album is really cool so I have to ask, what made you guys go with that, is there any relation, um, to any of the music with that?

Jarrod: The artwork I mean is a separate entity, but I know I just really like the artist’s style – his name is Ken Havoc. It’s not like that piece of art was created to match a song or anything specifically, but I mean it’s open to interpretation and it definitely can match some of the lyrics. But, that’s why I like his artwork because it’s really dark and twisted and it really can mean anything, anything you want, anything you can possibly imagine.

Now is there a piece of recording equipment that you view as the cornerstone of your sound, or like a specific piece of recording equipment that you couldn’t live without?

Jarrod: I recorded the new record on a guitar that I played most through the record and it was like a 1960s Gibson EC30 and I think it really helped with setting the tone of the guitars through the record and that was one thing. Other than that I’m not so much like a gearhead. I’m not that obsessed with certain things.

Can you tell me a little bit about the songwriting process for you on the new album, and is it like a collective process or do you start with chord progressions and go from there, how does that work?

Jarrod: Starts with lyrics. I have a ton of lyrics and I kind of just keep them on file and I’ll be writing them constantly, while on tour, while at home, in the bar, in the bathroom, in the shower, wherever the hell I am. And I just kind of keep them aside. Um, musically, I’ll come up with guitar parts and melodies and rhythms kind of by myself in a room but also the band will get together and kind of flesh out music as well. Somebody will start playing something and we’ll play off of each other, kind of the standard band thing. It’s never the same you know. The guitar part might be written first and it might come about completely spontaneously, you know, some songs come out really quick and easy, within an hour. Some might take months to rearrange.

I know you all are just getting started on a tour to promote the new album. What do you guys do in your down time?

Jarrod: What do we do on our down side?

Yeah, like, when you’re on tour, do you like sightseeing around where you are or do you even have down time?

Jarrod: No, we do… um, basically I’m bored out of my mind. (laughter) We do nothing excited, we go to the movies, go to the food court at the mall, or we sit on our computers and we watch TV. I like to, if we’re in town I like to find record stores and vintage clothing stores and stuff like that you know, comic book stores and stuff like that.

Now do you guys have like one certain TV show that you follow, that you watch while you’re on tour or is it just kind of random?

Jarrod: No, it’s hard to because you never know if you’re going to actually make it on time and everybody brings DVDs, you know, like Curb Your Enthusiasm or cool shows like that. I’ve been really wanting to watch that Bret Michaels show, just haven’t been able to. I’m not even being sarcastic, I love that show. But, ah, yeah I can’t. It’s more about DVDs on tour or we just watch the stuff on the computer.

What’s next on the horizon for you guys?

Jarrod: Bigger, better and more exciting things than getting hit by a car. A lot of touring and making videos and traveling, you know.

Interview By: Emma Loggins

The Honorary Title Official Site

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