February 8, 2011
Rising Indie Star
Hey, remember when you were a 19-year-old pop music composer who had been praised by indie music blogs up and down the internet? Oh wait, that wasn’t you, that was Brad Oberhofer, better known as just Oberhofer, a one-man band who tours with a full band relentlessly and churns out streamlined pop rock songs as easy as breathing. He’ll get signed to a label who knows what it’s doing and blow up even bigger than he is now if there’s any justice in the world, so we called him and asked him how he was feeling at this point about media attention, playing four shows in one day, and his parents’ house burning down.
You’ve been getting a lot of internet media attention the past several months, especially since you played all those shows in New York. Has that changed things for you?
What do you mean?
Well, have you been getting more offers from labels, for instance? Or phone call interviews with people like me?
Definitely. The phone call thing is pretty recent, and there definitely were a few more offers from labels. It’s been a lot of fun and more of an adventure, I guess.
Do you like the attention? Is it making you more confident in your musical careeer?
I think at times it makes me feel more confident, but that’s only when I’m feeling really insecure. I think generally, what makes me feel confident is knowing that I have really good songs. When I don’t get time to work on music and I don’t get time to work on songs, that’s when I start reverting to, you know, looking up articles or actually paying attention to articles. But when I have good songs I don’t feel like I have a need to pay attention to that stuff. It’s actually kind of an interesting cycle. When I am flooded with media inquiries and I don’t get time to write songs, then I do start to feel insecure and that’s when I care about media coverage. When I do get time to write songs, I come up with new things and I feel better about everything in general.
What’s your songwriting process like? I know you record everything by yourself.
It totally varies. Sometimes it’ll be things like I’ll be riding my bike around and I’ll see something really cool and I’ll start singing a melody—I really like to multitask. If I’m ever out on a walk or riding my bike or anything, I like trying to come up with vocal melodies. And sometimes I’ll wake up and feel like playing a song. In the summer I tried to write a melody every day. I’d sit down and just mess around on the piano or guitar… There’s a huge variety of ways in which a song could start.
I wanted to talk to you about the difference between recording your songs and playing them live. Because you and your band played like at set every day during your time in New York, and—
Yeah, more than that. One day we played four [sets], one day we played three. It was right after we played a show every day of the week prior to that.
Wow. Your band must have gotten pretty together playing so much over a short period of time.
We really did, actually. I think that helped us get everything together. We had a short UK tour the week before that which led directly into CMJ and directly after that it led to a two-week tour and that really intense period of touring helps us realize, “Okay, we can actually do this.”
Are you still going to school in New York, or are you just playing music full-time?
Well, I was in school until this last semester ended and right now I’m taking a year of absence. I have intentions to go back, but simultaneously I’d like to see where this goes—I think this will be an equally valuable learning experience, still being moderately young I think travelling is pretty valuable in terms of learning about yourself in relation to the world.
I was looking you up to prepare for this interview and I came across this weird rumor that you moved from Tacoma, Washington because your parents’ house burned down. Is that true?
I was already in New York, but the house did catch on fire, it was pretty crazy. I was living with some junkies on accident because I found an apartment on Craigslist—it was pretty bad—and I got a phone call from my little sister going, “Oh yeah, the house caught on fire, all your stuff is ruined.” I had a recording studio in the basement that I invested every penny that I earned in, and a lot of hand-written orchestral scores and lost lyrics, just lots of stuff that’s irreplaceable, cool ideas that I will never remember. I think that was a way for me to filter out the things I don’t need, because the really great ideas I remember still and things that probably weren’t as great were forgotten. So yeah, that was pretty crazy not being there. I feel terrible for my family. The house is still standing, because it’s made of brick, and it’s been remodeled and my family’s moved back in.
That’s good. Do you have plans for a new album?
I’ve just written over 40 songs at this point that I feel good about.
Whoa, that’s a lot of songs. Are we going to see a bunch of albums come out of you in the next year or so?
You’re going to see one great one.