Being this far ahead of the trends has its drawbacks

OBITS with METZ at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Tuesday (October 25), 8 pm. $13. RT, SS. See listing.

Rick Froberg can’t win. He’s always one step ahead of his audience.

The American underground rock pioneer has been in four bands of consequence: 80s post-hardcore kids Pitchfork, complicated 90s alt-mavericks Drive Like Jehu, jittery garage punks Hot Snakes in the 2000s and now the stripped-down rock combo Obits. And no matter what his current project is, fans clamour for the previous one.

“Everyone wants to hear the band you were in before rather than the one you’re in now, every time,” says Froberg from his home in New York.

“That’s what they’re used to. That’s what they know. When Obits plays, everyone wants to hear Hot Snakes. With Hot Snakes they wanted Drive Like Jehu songs. And when Drive played they wanted Pitchfork songs.”

Although Obits are going strong with their hard-charging second record, Moody, Standard And Poor (Sub Pop), Froberg is willing to placate fans to an extent. A Hot Snakes reunion starts later this year, with dates mostly in Europe.

A thread linking Froberg’s pre-Obits bands is his long-standing musical partnership with San Diego kingpin John Reis, best known for fronting Rocket from the Crypt and now the Night Marchers.

The two guitarist/singers have well-documented chemistry that’s led to some incredibly powerful records, like Drive Like Jehu’s masterful Yank Crime in 1994 and Hot Snakes’ ferocious Suicide Invoice in 2002.

Since Hot Snakes have been dormant for just six years, Froberg laughs off the term “reunion.”

“It’s not that long ago that we stopped playing. It’s a really easy band to fire up again.”

Not the case for DLJ. Now that something of a 90s revival is under way, Froberg says offers to reform the short-lived four-piece are coming in. But he’s quick to pour water on the flames.

“Hot Snakes is a band I like better. I like the direction of the music: stripped-down and simple. It’s good that people are doing [the 90s revival] and get to see this music. The 90s was a great time to be in a band.

“There was a lot going on then, and people had a different outlook. I sound really 60s right now.”

Interview Clips

Rick Froberg of Obits started his music career in the 80s in San Diego with a band called Pitchfork. Now a resident of New York, Froberg reflects on the punk scene there growing up.

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Froberg joking talks about how the popular website owes him money and the time they reviewed his newest band.

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