Photo by Jon Chamberlain
It’s been almost exactly a year since we ran an In-Time Interview, and that is a crime. We have about a half dozen of these in the OVRLD archives (featuring SPEAK, The Eastern Sea, Quiet Company, Shearwater, and more!) that you should totally peruse if you’re a newer reader. Today, we are proud to present Bobby Jealousy. Recently, OVRLD editor Carter Delloro sat down at his computer in his apartment, while – on the whole other side of town – Seth Gibbs and Sabrina Ellis of Bobby Jealousy shared their computer in their apartment. We each started a copy of Bobby Jealousy’s latest record, The Importance of Being Jealous, and just started talking about the songs. Below is the conversation in full. So cue up your copy of the record, or pull it up on your streaming service of choice, and enjoy!
– Ovrld Crew
Falling on My Face
Carter Delloro: Why did you pick this song to be the album opener?
Sabrina Ellis: Seth just remembered that the order was an accident. This was supposed to open side B. “We Don’t Need to Know” was supposed to open side A, but we swapped side A and B at the last minute.
Carter: Why was that?
Sabrina: We played test mixes for our friends and they didn’t seem interested in “We Don’t Need To Know.”
Carter: This one went over a lot better?
Sabrina: Also not very well, but better. Our friends have short attention spans.
Carter: I can see that reflected, perhaps, in some of your song lengths.
Sabrina: Yes. We also have short attention spans. No one ever said, “Thank you for boring me,” except maybe to Pink Floyd.
A Brand New Day
Carter: So many of the lead vocals on the record are intertwined like this one, what is the songwriting process like? Do you create these lines together or does one bring it to the other?
Sabrina: Every song comes together differently. Seth wrote “Brand New Day,” and had to teach me the difficult harmony. Most of the time it’s more organic than that.
Carter: Do you two live together?
Sabrina: Yep, we’re married. We are sitting on our bed right now. Vomit and blood stained. No sheets.
Carter: So I imagine it’s hard to write by yourselves?
Sabrina: Yes. We’re always interrupting each other. Usually we have to help each other finish lyrics, and usually whatever harmony we improvise at the time of writing is final.
Carter: So there aren’t necessarily Seth songs and Sabrina songs? it’s more sethandsabrina?
Sabrina: The longer we live as a pair, the more our songs become collaborations. The first record had Seth, Sabrina and Stoney songs. The second, many Seth songs, a few sethandsabrina. The next, we both have individual songs and we are writing way too many every day, together.
If I Was Your Man
Carter: That’s awesome; a good problem to have.
Sabrina: Kind of. We have to limit our album to 18 songs and we have about 30 new ones. It’s going to be very poppy. But we’re not talking about that today!
Carter: 🙂 So, what inspired the playing with gender norms and expectations in this song?
Sabrina: No one ever writes love songs for ugly girls. I wanted to be the one to do that. And I needed Seth’s help.
Carter: How so?
Sabrina: Seth helped write that sweet hook.
Carter: It is a great hook. So many of your songs (like this one) shift gears quite dramatically in the middle of them. Why do you do that? Do you just have great hooks pouring out of you at all hours?
Sabrina: Haha, thanks.
Carter: It seems like it’s less compliment and more fact after chatting with you here.
Children of God
Seth Gibbs: With such short songs, it’s just tempting to throw as much excitement into each as possible. We never spend a long time writing. While we’re very organized with words, our composition style could be considered stream of conciousness.
Carter: So whatever feels right at the time goes in.
Seth: Exactly. We listen to a lot of classical music. Those songs are like, 30-40 minutes long. They need to be shorter.
Carter: Where did the idea for this song come from? It’s just so different from what I’ve come to expect from indie rock bands in terms of lyrical themes.
Seth: On our first tour, I was sitting on a doorstep in Oklahoma at six in the morning. This family was wandering around the neighborhood screaming at each other. It was a really rough tour as well. Just sort of felt a crippling sadness. Everybody was still passed out drunk and I had a ukulele, so I sat and wrote it.
Carter: So you’re not particularly religious?
Seth: Just in the wrong way.
Carter: This has a really strong country feel, as opposed to your usual pop-rock sound. On other parts of the album, you explore other sounds (ballads, more dramatic arrangements) that deviate from the pop-rock template laid out on your first record. Was this a conscious move? Or did you just naturally start writing more varied material?
Fall Asleep in Your Arms
Seth: Sabrina wanted badly to be a glam band and we spent some time exploring what that could mean. Ultimately, we determined it means touching the private parts of every type of music you can. Glam is dirty. This album was, for us, an experiment in Rock n’ Roll. We want each album to be distinct. We’ve had different bands for each album, incidentally.
We Don’t Need to Know
Carter: Real quick: How did you get that big echo-y sound in the intro of this one? It’s very wall-of-sound.
Seth: Partly synthetically, partly with hand-made reverbs. I like to play around as much as possible in the studio.
Carter: This one deals with the same themes of love and death as your last album. Was it a holdover from those sessions?
Seth: It was written very shortly after. Love and death are two things we seem to be obsessed with eternally.
Baby I’m Down
Sabrina: I cried the first time Seth played “We Don’t Need to Know” for me, in our living room.
Carter: Oh! Why?
Sabrina: It made me think about death. A friend had just lost her father and I was stirred by the suddenness of death and loss. I think the song can be helpful to people, the best way a rock song can, if they’re dealing with loss.
Carter: For sure. All over the record, you have dialogue before, after or during the songs. I was thinking of that especially during “Fall Asleep,” but “Bang Bang,” “25 Years;” there are lots of instances of it. What was the motivation for including those things?
Sabrina: Not motivation. We’ve recorded ourselves forever and it has just become a habit.
Seth: I feel like people get to know us better when they hear us talking and being normal and stupid.
Carter: So it was trying to be accessible on the record? Or, you just didn’t think about it because you record so many songs?
Seth: We were being personal, touching private parts, letting you see ours.
I guess it was intentional not to cut that stuff. May it’s being accessible, maybe self-indulgent.
Sabrina: On “The Agreement,” I almost got an old friend named Capt. Crunch to play the saxophone. We got some very good people in his stead but I miss that fat bastard.
Carter: What inspired this string arrangement?
Seth: We took apart our rock and roll arrangement because it didn’t excite us. It sounded like “Come Sail Away.” We have a few great cellist friends and thought we should rearrange for them and see if it helped the song. We are still hoping someone will license the song so we can pay them.
Carter: That first line has tricked me before, expecting “Come Sail Away.”
Seth: Us too. Editor’s Note: We later figured out that all three of us were referring to “The Right Side” when comparing a Bobby Jealousy song to “Come Sail Away.”
Carter: It’s just amazing to me how you integrate that bridge into the song. it’s so different, but it fits so well!
Sabrina: That’s an example of our collaboration. Seth wrote most of the song, but I helped with the hook and bridge.
Carter: Are you ever going to be able to pull this off live? Is that something you think about while writing songs? Or do you focus on writing for the record?
Sabrina: We play it live all the time. We’ve done it a few times with cello as well. In Brooklyn there was a grand piano on stage, so Jake Knight (keyboard/guitar) played the entire song on that. We definitely don’t think about what we can pull off live. Recording an album is a totally seperate artform.
There’s Nothing You Can Do About It
Carter: So it’s record first, and then worry about live stuff? Or either way, depending on the song?
Sabrina: We move fast. We constantly get accused of playing too many shows, but it has afforded us the opportunity to try out most of our songs live for a while before recording them. We have many live songs that have never made it onto an album, and maybe never will.
Carter: I feel like this is almost a quintessential Bobby Jealousy song: catchy, rockin’ and over before you know what hit you. Where did this song come from?
Sabrina: Seth wrote this song right before meeting me. He was going through something, with his heart and some blonde. He wrote an amazing album, which I listened to every day, sometimes for 6-8 hours straight while I worked at Casino el Camino. So I may have been heavily influenced by this album, called I am Your Brother. He’ll probably release it when we’re old.
You’re Gonna Miss Me
Carter: Does this one come from direct experience? Do you two write mostly from experience?
Sabrina: Not directly, just an amalgam of thoughts and ideas that people may or may not have. Stuff we know, stuff we don’t know, fantasies…
Carter: For sure.
Carter: Is that what this is?
Sabrina: Hell yeah! Brian Patterson played sitar for the first time in his life that evening. We forgot we even owned one.
The Right Side
Carter: I’m glad you flipped the sides of the album, because this is such a perfect album closer.
Carter: What’s the story with this one?
Seth: This song became a dance song shortly after recording it. We decided it should sound more like the Jackson 5. So it may re-appear on our next record.
Sabrina: BUTT SLAPS! Is what you are hearing in the background.
Carter: As percussion?
Carter: Whose butt got the best tone?
Seth: Of course…