Jarrod Gorbel | Lightening Up
From The Honorary Title’s Doghouse Records debut, Anything Else but the Truth, I was hooked. The music was kind of emo, kind of singer-songwriter, kind of rock…good, but it was the voice that made me a believer. Jarrod Gorbel had this plaintive, yearning yet otherwise nearly emotionless voice, rich and full, delivering lines both insightful and humorous, and yet he made it all mean something. I’ve played that album more times than I can count, along with its successor, Scream and Light Up the Sky.
But somewhere along the way, Gorbel strayed from his emo-rock roots. He wanted to delve deeper into his personality, and after trying to pen the third Honorary Title CD, he found the best way to do that was via a more folksy sound. Thus he abandoned THT—at least for now—in favor of releasing music under his own name.
I spoke with Gorbel recently about the decision to drop his well-known band name and where his career was headed.
What made you decide to abandon The Honorary Title name?
It just kind of happened; it wasn’t a plan. Basically, I went to record a new record—a new EP, and a full-length record that’s going to come out in the fall. When I went to record the full-length record, I went under the intention that it was going to be an Honorary Title thing the whole time. I didn’t think that mattered, ’cause the Honorary Title started as just me and I was the songwriter. But halfway through the process it was just something I decided to do. Maybe it felt a little more personal. I just wanted for the next level to have a symbolic style.
I’ve been touring for a little while, and I’ve still been playing Honorary Title songs—at least ones that I hold onto still. I would say that they’re kind of my shelter; most of the ones that are written by me I play on my own. So it’s not like The Honorary Title’s dead; it’s merely a rebirth.
Are fans embracing it?
The fans that I know when I tour seem to react positively and like it just as much.
How would you say the new tour and energy differs from Honorary Title tours?
It’s more folky and it’s more personal; you kind of just get more of my personality at the show. It’s not just songs, records; it’s more of a dialogue. There used to a full band having a giant production. Now, there’s no pressure. I can play whatever I want, whenever I want. I can throw in some covers if I want. I can decide when I want to start. It reminds me of before I got the whole band together. It’s a more comfortable way for me to play, for sure.
In terms of songwriting, I’m assuming that with Honorary Title there were collaborations on songwriting. Are you still doing that?
With Honorary Title, there would be some collaboration but it would be more on what you expect, the rock/pop songs—something that was more drum- or guitar-driven; that’d definitely be influenced more by the band. I brought in different musicians and kind of just let them do their thing.
When you were growing up, did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
Yeah, pretty much, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I played piano and guitar and started singing, pretty much the only thing that I could do. I graduated and was like, “It’s time to play music.” I got [the college education] out of the way.
Is there any other area of the business where you could envision yourself?
Just songwriting. I could see myself writing for other artists or younger artists, or collaborating with other people. I started doing that kind of stuff just as experimentation.
It seems like it would be hard to write for someone else.
It’s hard, and it’s not, because then you’re not so caught up. When you’re with somebody else, you’re not thinking the song’s so precious, panicking, and getting hung up on every little detail. You just do it.
Beyond touring, what do you see 2011 holding for you?
I hope it opens up a new audience, beyond people that know Honorary Title. I guess that’s it. Just to play a lot more. Play for newer and different people. Newer places. I hope to tour internationally and I hope to write with more people and to keep busy. | Laura Hamlett
To Write Love on Her Arms presents Jarrod Gorbel and Atlantic/Pacific at Cicero’s on Wednesday, February 23, at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10. Buy advance tickets here.
This article was first published in PLAYBACK:stl.