Meet Strobe Talbot as introduced by Benb Gallaher.
The world welcomes Strobe Talbot. With them, they bring four distinct musical personalities that intersect and synthesize uniquely. They are all supremely excited indeed to share their music and their collective story with you.
Strobe Talbot has worked very hard to exist. The group itself is a study in contradictions – members that live thousands of miles apart, extremely disparate musical histories within the group (spanning three months to thirty years), and a music that eschews the members’ traditionally challenging and more-adventurous leanings in favor of a sincere and enthusiastic exploration of ever-truer individualistic pop sensibilities.
Strobe Talbot has got four members: Jad Fair (vocals) Mick Hobbs (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals) Benb Gallaher (drums, keyboards, vocals) Andy Fisher (bass)
Here’s a bit about each of those members:
Jad Fair by Benb Gallaher : Leader of indie-rock founders Half Japanese, Jad Fair has turned out an exceedingly prolific seventy albums with a number of different outfits since Half Japanese’s 1977 debut EP, Calling All Girls. With his brother David, Jad haphazardly revolutionized two movements: punk and post-punk. Half Japanese was (and still is) a group whose approach to making music was unaffected and unrefined in its passion, resulting in some of the most enthralling, formula-free rock music EVER made.
Jad’s devout adherence to artistic self-sufficiency has earned him great kudos among fans and press, and his idiosyncratic majesty has landed him in a variety of projects with a virtual who’s-who of independent rock music: Maureen Tucker, John Zorn, Daniel Johnston, Jason Willett, J Mascis, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, and Teenage Fanclub comprise but a smattering of such involvements.
In addition to being heavily involved with music, Jad is also a renowned visual artist, with exhibitions having taken place all over Europe, Australia, and the United States. His personality translates as well and as authentically to visual media as it does to music. He’s got his own web site: http://www.jadfair.com
Jad lives in Texas with his wife, Patty, and lots of pets.
Mick Hobbs by Benb Gallaher Mick is the primary author of music in Strobe Talbot. A native of England (where he currently resides), Mick’s musical history is as wide-ranging as Jad’s, if not quite as discographically vast. His years of compositions, many of them pop masterpieces, are precious secrets unintentionally kept.
Mick was a founding member of prescient post-punk ensemble Family Fodder in the late 1970s, and his path soon diverged into increasingly ambitious and forward-looking territory. Mick worked as a guitarist, bassist, vocalist, recordist, sundryist (?), and/or drummer with innumerable groups and musicians during the 1980s and 1990s, including The Work (with Henry Cow’s Tim Hodgkinson), The Kalahari Surfers (with ReR’s Chris Cutler), The Momes, his own Officer!, The Orchestre Murphy, et. al. This music is at once cerebral and visceral, and Mick’s greatest talent is to execute unusual and groundbreaking ideas while maintaining both his personality and his engagement to listeners. The austerity of Mick’s pedigree, however, does not serve to alter the fact that he is capable of kicking some serious shit as demanded by musical situations.
The subject is also an extraordinary visual/conceptual artist. He has designed several record covers in his day – most notably (in the author’s opinion) the eponymous debut by Baltimore group The Can Openers. Mick lives in London, England with no pets. (The author suggests that he is very kind and an eligible bachelor).
Benb Gallaher by Mick Hobbs : What follows, some of you may not believe. Once there lived two cats, brothers, in that land of Spain. As is so with Mr Gallaher, the age of neither creature has any bearing upon anything. What interests us is their relative size, and their names. El Gordito was the larger of the pair, and his name might be translated from the Andalucian as the little big one. His brother, El Pequeñito, the little little one, was the smaller. For some years now it has been obvious to me that everything in our lives and livings may be likened, normally directly, to either the pequenin (to anglicise as I go) or the big gordine, such that we unequivocally know in whose presence we are. Benb’s truly unique quality, I have only recently realised, lies in his being unlikenable to either of the cats over the other (brother). It could not be honestly spoken that the third-born of his wonderful parents resembles more the big gordito than peckanee (for such have we now decided to call them). Similarly, any fool suggesting him to be unlike the big gordito, but closer in nature to peckarny, would be a fool. Without so much, even, as an awareness that there be a problem, Benb has solved it. It is as though, without any expenditure of effort, or mess, Benb Gallaher has again split the atom anew.
When I first met Benb Gallaher, he was just sixteen; a year later he was only seventeen. These are but two of his great qualities. Should you let Benb into your life and living? Yes, you should. Should you let Benb Gallaher into your living and your life, you will never want for finding the state of being encouraged perpetually.
Andy Fisher by Benb Gallaher: Andy is a great human being, and that’s one big reason that he was invited in September of 2001 to join the group. He’s not had any experience with ensemble playing before, but he’s taken right to it, and his unassuming-but-incisive presence lends a real solidity to Strobe Talbot’s line-up. He fits.
To this point, Andy’s thing has been poetry. He’s quite gifted at it, and he’s got a sense of organic rhythm that is strongly evidenced in his bass playing. He’s currently finishing post-graduate studies at Goddard College, so he gets to experience the intermittent agony of being simultaneously in a group and enrolled in school. He enjoys spending time outdoors, which is appalling.
Andy lives in Conway, New Hampshire, and his housemates have a cat that I don’t like. That’s right.
Having all of that out of the way commences the daunting task of recounting our assembly.
STROBE TALBOT’S ASSEMBLY : In early 1990, none of us knew each other. Jad was enduring a period of fundamental transition and personnel shifts with Half Japanese amid managerial tangles galore, as well as tending to a burgeoning solo career; Mick was recording and playing with The Momes and The Work, and was spending quite a bit of time, if I recall correctly, in mainland Europe; I have no idea of what Andy was doing; I was eleven.
I think that we would have all stayed ignorant in this general capacity had it not been for Jason Willett. Jason was a personality in Frederick, MD (my hometown). He was very into music. Jad invited Jason into Half Japanese and requested that he enlist the group’s members. He did. One of them was Mick Hobbs (Jason was a rabid fan of The Work). They became fast friends. Jason and Jad also cultivated a close friendship. So did Mick and Jad.
I started hanging out in the record store that Jason owned in Frederick when I should have been attending school. We formed some groups and played and recorded. Eventually, I met Jad and Mick, and we played together occasionally throughout the following years. We all liked each other very much.
In 1997, Jason, Jad, and I toured Australia. It was fun and funny. Then, we decided that Mick should accompany us on the next, if it ever happened – which it did, a year later, again in Australia. The line-up of the four of us was incredible – we were playing what I have heard described as twisted garage punk, but we all know that descriptions are stupid. Anyway, this time, Jason stayed in Australia. Then, Mick moved to Spain.
I was traveling a lot myself, as was Jad, in early 1999, during which time Mick and I played together briefly in a re-formed Family Fodder. I decided to visit Spain for the summer to do some recording for that, and then it became known that Jad would be playing and showing art in Portugal at the same time. It seemed clear that we should all be in a band together. Mick named us The Strobe Talbot Trio. The “trio” fell away before I even arrived in Spain. Strobe Talbot. I like the name, and I hate you if you don’t.
We played some shows in July 1999, and they were lots of fun. Kind of raw, but actually very true to much of what’s on 20 Pop Songs – you see, we were given a ton of studio time in Portugal before we’d even been a band for a week! So, what you hear there is really the first of it. The unabridged entirety of Strobe Talbot’s first month was released on Portugal’s LowFly label as “Daydreamy” by Strobe. Jad didn’t like the Talbot, so we removed it, but we realized with time that we couldn’t devise a handle that better suited the music. Please believe that we tried.
Then it gets fuzzy — I went back to the States and fell into a hectic scholastic scene for a long time (which is where I met and befriended Andy). Jad fell headlong into love with a lifelong friend and got married. Mick had his own struggles and landed back in London. Somehow, we stayed together (even managing through all of this to meet in Maine and record some new tracks in January, 2001), and 20 Pop Songs got completed in there somewhere at no small personal and economic expense. The record itself is an amalgam of clunky pop music, propulsive lullabies, mournful mock-horror, and humorous hayseed romping. It’s also the chronicle of a crazy convergence.
Now, we all seem to be settled a bit and well-righted, and in November of 2001, Mick flew over here from London to make some new units of music with Strobe Talbot. Andy had been invited to join two months earlier (he accepted the invitation), and the feeling of being a living, breathing group finally took hold with Mick’s arrival (and our subsequent studio visit) in big, big ways. We recorded a ton of stuff that we feel is our best-ever work as an ensemble. Additionally, response to 20 Pop Songs has been warm and wonderful. We are all very excited about the future. So, here we are. Thank you so much for caring.