Wonderland gets to know Brooklyn-based musician Oberhofer a little better as we talk about his sophomore album, Chronovision, and a whole lot more.
It’s been a few years now since Brad Oberhofer first made an impression with his acclaimed debut, Time Capsules II, which was steeped in surf-pop atmosphere and overflowing with multi-layered melodies, and now he’s back with a new album, Chronovision. You’ll probably remember a few of his fiendishly catchy singles like the bizarrely titled “oOoO” and that jangly hit “I Could Go”. Oberhofer’s been mentioned in the same breath as fellow Brooklynites The Drums, but his sounds seems primarily influenced by the kings of surf-inflected music, The Beach Boys.
The lead track from Chronovision is an instant gratification number, “White Horse, Black River” which perfectly showcases the New-Wave influenced psych-pop that Oberhofer has amped up further on this second album; it’s a prime example of the ways in which even his sweetest sounding fuzz-pop can mask the darkest subject matter. Other big tracks include the characteristically catchy “Memory Remains”, an ode to loss and, no surprises, enduring memory.
We caught up with Brad for a chat about his inspirations, haunted houses and striving for perfection.
Hi, it’s been a few years since the release of Time Capsules II, aside from working on the new album, what else have you been up to?
I’ve done more than I can possibly summarise in a brief paragraph. I have done some traveling, lived in a haunted house for a brief period, hit some pretty high highs and some very low highs. My life has taken itself apart and reconstructed itself.
Chronovision is an interesting title – where did it come from?
I once was in an abandoned Masonic Lodge in Tacoma Washington and discovered a series of small rooms with tiny doors with no light fixtures nor windows and blindfolds on the ground. When I close my eyes I often will try to locate a specific memory, fully mentally paint its image, and move on to the nearest memory I can locate. I often end up in the present. I just combined the Latin root, “Chrono” with “vision”
Do you feel your sound has changed since Capsules?
I feel like it has?
What inspired you whilst making this album?
The (optimistic) idea that the things and people you lose in life are always with you.
The recording process sounds like a tough one – 106 demos is a lot! – do you see yourself as a perfectionist when it comes to achieving the sound you want?
Yeah. Definitely not a perfectionist in the sense of keeping things perfectly in tune with a tuner or in time with a metronome, but mostly a perfectionist in achieving a very specific vibe for each song.
You wanted to self-produce on Chronovision, how did you find the experience, you must have learnt a lot about production?
I love producing. I want to produce more albums. I couldn’t tell you what I’ve learned but can say that I have (learned).
You travelled a lot to make this album, can you tell us a little more about that?
I had a lot of fun getting more aquatinted with Los Angeles (recording at Fairfax (previously Sound City) with Kevin Augunas, and living there for a little over a month/ living at a house with a grand piano in it in Atlanta while working with Ben Allen/ spending time with Ben Baptie at Electric Lady in Jimi Hendrix’ old bedroom/ recording with Phil Ek at Avast in Seattle/ Recording with Hunter Lea at Uptone and using some of Hal Blaine’s personal percussion instruments.
As a Brooklyn resident, does New York hold a place in your heart in terms of making music – is it a special source of inspiration for you?
In a lot of ways, it is. I find New York can feel suppressive at times, which forces one to either break free and locate their truest self, or descend into an infinite pit of emptiness.
You’ve been described as ‘Surf-Pop Revival’ but who are your musical heroes?
Maurice Ravel, Leonard Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, John Adams
Lastly, what’s next for Oberhofer?
CHRONOVISION, OCTOBER 9th
Chronovision is released on 9th October on Glassnote Records.
Words: Benji Walters