Interview: Oberhofer

Coachella expanded this year from one weekend to two for the first time in its 13-year history. And while the lineups mirrored each other and the artists stuck to similar sets, the weather between them jumped from cold to scorching.

From April 20th to 22nd the weather under the sun remained over 100 degrees. Despite the heat, an estimated attendance of 80,000 to 85,000 concertgoers appeared each day to see over 140 artists perform under a passable amount of shade. And with very little breeze to cool people down, even the covered stages were hot and accumulated perspiration.

When the resolutely upbeat Oberhofer came to meet up with us on Sunday evening, they arrived at the media van with a noticeable look of depletion on their faces. Already that day, Brad Oberhofer (guitar, vocals), Ben Roth (bass), Matt Scheiner (guitar, glockenspiel) and Pete Sustarsic (drums) had chatted through numerous radio interviews and other media grillings in and around the Coachella Valley. And it was 105 degrees in the shade.

Of course, our ten minutes also transpired after a performance earlier that afternoon at the festival. Brad opened the set with a salutation to the crowd and a nod to 4/20, explaining that he spends the holiday thinking about his grandmothers—he later dedicated the set to every grandparent, grandkid and pet on Earth. Very nice.

After tiptoe dancing and yodeling through a few songs from their new album “Time Capsules II,” the curly-haired leader retrieved a bouquet of roses from backstage and climbed halfway up the scaffolding to toss the flowers into the crowd. And if that wasn’t enjoyable enough, Brad continued all the way up to the top, dangled from the cross-support structure, and windmilled his feet through the air like a chimpanzee.

All that monkeying around came after a prior Coachella performance the week before, a quick round-trip expedition to play two shows in London, and an intense touring schedule which began in early March. And so, as you should expect by now, Oberhofer went above and beyond the call of duty to meet with Death and Taxes on Sunday afternoon.

You’re holding up okay? It looks like you have some life left in you.
Brad: Yeah, we’re alive.
Matt: We’ve figured it out, mostly. The whole health thing. You need to take it pretty seriously.

Before Time Capsules II launched, promotion of the album sent you from Brooklyn, New York, to all corners of the country. Were you prepared for heavy touring, or did you roll with the punches along the way?
Ben: No, we just had to do it. We just went along and did it. We’ve been on tours that have been about a month long before. This has definitely been the longest one, but you just gotta go through it and see how you’re feeling. Matt got pretty sick for a minute, and we had to do a couple shows as a three piece.
Pete: Yeah, we had to do two shows as a three piece, because Matt was so sick.

Matt: I couldn’t really get up. It was a viral infection underneath two separate bacterial infections. I had an eye infection and a sinus infection and a strep throat. Yeah, it was very kind of “customize your own sickness” ordeal.
Ben: It was a sick cocktail!
Matt: Yeah, Pinkberry-style.
Brad: I love Pinkberry.

You do know that the owner of Pinkberry recently beat a homeless man for being homeless, right?
Brad: Fuck that guy! I hate Pinkberry; I’m never eating there again.

How has it been to showcase your music to wider audiences and read their reactions?
Matt: It’s like a speed dating session, you know? You get rapid-fire feedback.
Brad: I see that people just identify with our passion and honesty, which is great. If you’re being honest and you are passionate about what you’re playing and you’re having a fun time, everyone can sense that, no matter how far away they are or wherever they may live from where you grew up. It’s across the board.

Giving flowers to the fans was a great touch. Did you do it for the ladies?
Brad: I actually wasn’t even thinking about ladies in particular, actually. I was thinking about flora and how it would be fun to throw flowers. People like flowers.
Actually, speaking of them, I met a girl on the flight to London earlier this week, who was an illustrator for DC Comics and also an astrophysicist, and she was hanging out with some guys from Japan and had a crazy night out, got completely blackout drunk, and got a text message from a Japanese guy. She didn’t know how to get back to her apartment; she got a text message from him that said, “Saw you on table with food rebirth. Bring you house.”

Well, maybe he was thinking a little bit more poetically than how it sounded.
Matt: I think Japanese translated directly into English is some to the most abstractly poetic language there is. You just can’t make it up! It’s all automatically haiku; that’s how it is.
Ben: Vomit in the springtime is no longer vomit; it’s food rebirth.

Maybe where you go from here musically is with a Japanese food rebirth?
Brad: Yes, food rebirth.

Photo: Sebastian Mlynarski

Here’s Oberhofer performing on ‘Letterman’:

Photo: Sebastian Mlynarski