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Life After Oblivian;
An Interview with
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Life After Oblivian

An Interview With Memphis' Own Oblivians
By M. Mercury, Staff Reporter

ecently, upon hearing that Memphis' Oblivians had called it quits, I thought it appropriate, having known the band members for some time, to ask Eric, Jack and Greg some questions about their stint as a band and their final record "The Oblivians ...Play 9 With Mr. Quintron." I had been intrigued by the record's gospel overtones and wanted to know first hand what had been the inspiration for the recordings. While perhaps a departure from their first two full length albums, ...Play 9 is none the less in keeping with the simplicity and ferociousness of the Oblivians rock attack. Recorded in one day at Cotton Row Studio in Memphis with Steve Moller at the board, the Oblivians, aided by the mysterious Mr. Quintron, testify with fury. Sounding more like the Cramps than the Righteous Brothers, ...Play 9 is teeming with primitive, hypnotic beats, charismatic vocals, raunchy guitars and spooky organ. One might not be sure as to which spirit has possessed the boys but one things for sure ... the Oblivians want to take your hand and lead you in ecstatic reverie through the dark night of the soul.

LCE: Tell me about the recording of ...Play 9 ?

Record Cover Jack: We had toured a lot for a band like us the last few years and we didn't have any driver or crew so it was pretty hard. It just seemed like we did that more than work on new material. But Greg can come up with stuff all the time and whatever he's into at the time he can write songs in that style. So at the end of '96 he was into Gospel and had found some cool old records like The Five Blind Boys, The Dixie Hummingbirds, etc. I remember when we played at the Blues Explosion after show party he pulled out a couple numbers after we'd done our regular set and we just kind of followed along. Everybody got excited cause it sounded so good. I kept asking him about the songs and he wouldn't give me a straight answer, just "oh thats just something I heard" or whatever. At first I don't think he wanted to record them cause he thought it would be like a novelty thing but I said you don't have to say it's Gospel. At this point it wasn't serious we were just kinda joking about it and I suggested Quintron and Eric was like yeah that would be cool and Greg said "if Quintron would do it I would record those songs." So that night when I got back home I called Quintron and he said he'd been listening to the same type stuff and would love to do it. The next day I told Greg and from there it just happened.

Eric: Just to make things a little different we decided to use an organ player and Mr. Quintron was the only one that was loose enough not to sound like a real organ player. We had played with him a few times at shows before but we didn't really know if he knew chord changes or not, if he was just completely free form or what. We tried to get him a tape of the songs so he could kind of be prepared but it came back, somehow we didn't get the right address. So after we picked him up at the bus station we went over to my house and the first song we played him , a "Live the Life" 78 Greg had, he said "Oh man, I've always wanted to do this song," so we kind of felt we were on the same wavelength. He (Quintron) was on a bus for eight hours then in a studio for eight hours and then we took him to the bus the same day, so he had a tough 24 hours.

Jack: We took him to Piggly Wiggly, he bought a detective paperback and then we put him back on the bus at 2 a.m.

LCE: Whirlwind.

The Oblivians Eric: He said he'd never really recorded like that before. We just pretty much played through the songs until we got em down and didn't even go back into the control room to listen. When we finally listened, he (Steve Moller who engineered) had gotten some really good sounds, it really sounds live. And Quintron plays some amazing stuff that really saves the record from being just us goofin' around and Greg did some great singin'... it just turned out great. The combination of unpredictable elements just made it better for everyone.

LCE: How did you arrive at the idea of doing an album of Gospel songs?

Greg: I'd been hanging out at this record store near MSU where Wally (Hall- DJ for WEVL) worked and he told me they had all these cool records in the back room from when they bought out this record store in rural Mississippi years ago. So one day I was asking about them and they let me go back. There were all these records just sitting there in boxes still sealed. So I'm looking through the bins and I realize there are all these great Gospel records that you never see and they were like two or three dollars each so I bought scores of them went home and started listening to them and really got into it for several months. I thought this is everything rock n' roll is, even better cause you've got the spiritual side and it just rocks - you just couldn't ask for anything more in music.

LCE: Well to me Gospel is a lot like the blues in imagery that can be really desperate, the only difference being instead of reaching for the gun or the bottle they reach out for Jesus.

Eric: And because they don't really have a pop song structure they just keep building and it gets really insane the power of it...

Greg: Some of the songs are just haunting. You listen to them and just get the chills. It's not like Goth rock or stuff that tries to be scary and is really a joke. If you listen to certain gospel songs in the right frame of mind it would scare you enough to go to church. To me that's amazing, that means you've really succeeded - you've set out to make a record to catch someone's ear and if you can be that enthusiastic about it enough that someone would say "I've got to get my life together... I'm Just as bad as the guy in this song" thats pretty amazing you know there's not many people that can do that.

LCE: Well, is there any parallel between the ...Play 9 record and The Compulsive Gamblers (Greg and Jack's former band) "Church Goin'" Ep?
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