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Goddamn Electric Bill - Interview

We have been listening to Topics For Gossip for the last two months and it still blows us away! We talked with Jason Torbert about how it all came to be.

Hello how are you doing?

I'm doing well. Thanks!

Could you please shortly introduce yourselves for our readers as this is your first interview for us (hopefully one of the many to come)?

My name is Jason Torbert and I am the evil mastermind behind the band, Goddamn Electric Bill from sunny San Diego, California.

We're rather curious about the name of the band? What is the story behind it? A smart marketing technique perhaps, because we noticed that quite often we exclaim the name of the band whenever the electric bill arrives (especially in this time of the crisis)?

I was in another band back in 1995 and was making music on my own, in a non-serious way - more of a way to relax. The drummer and I were coming up with different band names that involved things people yell about. "Goddamn Electric Bill" was the winner. It's funny because the name occasionally gets me some hate mail, but turned out to be an amazing marketing technique. Most people are so intrigued by the name that they have to listen. So, hopefully that keeps happening!
[ GDEB ]


So was the name the curse or the blessing in the end? Personally speaking, I didn't expect such truly beautiful music behind such a name. I was expecting more of a punk trash band.

Thank you! And, you're not the only one. I love that and try to take full advantage of the confusion. Check out the "Swallowed by the Machines" album - with the T-Rex on the cover. So Metal.

How would you describe your sound? We've seen it described as folktronica but does it really do your sound the justice?

Goddamn Electric Bill is definitely a mixture of both the instrumental acoustic and electronica worlds, so it is really hard to place in either category. I have some songs that are really electronic and then I have a lot of songs that are completely acoustic/organic. But, if I had to pick one category, I'd say the songs are Soundtrack/Score music.

Your second album recently came out. Has it been traditionally difficult and what were the main influences this time around?

CDs are good for four things nowadays: drink coasters, closet clutter, recorded music for (most) adults above the age of 30, and promo CDs. But, it is hard to complain. Digital sales are good without having to ship anything. For some reason, this album is really mellow and organic. I had a rough 2 years while creating this album (father died and then I had, quite possibly, the worst job ever) and these things really played a large role in what I was feeling while recording.

How do your songs get created? Do you start with guitars or do you go straight to the computer.

Usually I'm inspired by something, whether its a guitar pattern I just came up with or a film I just watched. Then I record one track and just build off of it. Not one of my songs is created any other way. In fact, I like to refer to my songs as journal entries because they are made/recorded immediately - never practiced and reworked and then recorded.
[ GDEB ]


You have always been very active through your Myspace. You've also been giving out music for free to your fans. So what is your opinion on things like that? Also, what is your opinion on all the release schemes going around these days? Do you think the future of music is online or that these are just clever marketing plots that work in a certain moment?

I plan on continuing to give out free stuff because I'm truly in this to have fun and I love that people enjoy what I do! I used to play in touring bands in hopes that I could make a living. Well, it didn't work out. Now I work part time and make music on the side. Ever single dollar I make in Goddamn Electric Bill goes right back into Goddamn Electric Bill. So, I like to give back to the "fans" with free songs, stickers, pins, etc.

Are there plans for the proper European tour surrounding the album release?

I wish. The band is still only me and some of these songs give me a headache trying to figure out how to play live. Maybe someday.

Was it hard making it as an artist in the USA? There days music scene seems to be so overcrowded that its sometimes great bands go overlooked.

There are an amazing number of bands now due to electronic recording. When I started making music by myself it was on a Tascam 4-Track. Now you can have a digital multitrack studio on your new Macbook. Unreal. But, although the competition is there, it's great that there is so much to be inspired and challenged by.
[ GDEB ]


Your songs seem to have many layers contained within. How does it all work out live? Do you play stripped down versions or?

Still trying to figure that one out!

Finally, what do you read and listen to lately?

I've been on a children's book kick lately. Right now I'm reading the Golden Compass trilogy. As far as music, I've been listening to a lot of The White Birch, ecce's new EP, Roger O'Donnell's new CD, Erin Lang's new EP and IMMOOR.

Thanks for having us!

Thank you!

kris // 11/03/2009


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