The Honorary Title concert review by Bear Frazer
Last night was bittersweet for Jarrod Gorbel. His band, The Honorary Title, put on an electrifying performance at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California, and the response was encouraging. Perhaps it was a little too encouraging.
Once Gorbel jumped off stage, he was attacked with affection by a flock of young ladies and he couldn’t fight them off. “Girls want hugs. It doesn’t matter how far you keep away from them or what their mannerisms are. They will latch onto you,” the overtired lead singer explains. “I guess they hear the songs and need a hug. Truth being, I don’t even hug anyone. Maybe that’s why my songs are so sad.”
That is a valid observation. Most of the music on their brooding sophomore album Scream and Light Up the Sky revolves around heartache. Over a variety of rich melodies, Gorbel relinquishes emotions pertaining to relationships heading down a rocky road. He expresses feeling deceived on “Apologize” and frustrated on “Untouched,” but it’s during “Only One Week” where he analyzes the lack of communication between him and his ex-girlfriend. Whenever he recalls memories like on “Stuck at Sea” and “Untouched,” he tends to be more energetic. Though most bands are inspired by heartbreak, The Honorary Title takes a mature approach.
Gorbel didn’t always act like this though. While attending college, the dark-haired vocalist would frequent coffeehouses with his acoustic guitar. But he didn’t spill his heart at first. “It was just an outlet for me to make fun of everybody in the crowd. It was less about the music, and more about being obnoxious and making my friends laugh,” he admits. “Then, it just evolved into more serious songwriting. I just grew the balls to write songs expressing what I truly felt.”
With a more sincere outlook, Gorbel attempted to build a few bands. Ultimately, they fell apart. Tired of wasting time with other musicians, he recorded a solo EP under the alias The Honorary Title in 2003. He promoted it at small venues around New York City and eventually, he met bassist Aaron Kamstra. Together, they played as The Honorary Title and released their full-length debut Anything Else but the Truth through Doghouse Records. While touring, they solidified their lineup with guitarist/keyboardist Jon Wiley and drummer Adam Boyd.
In the midst of recording Scream and Light Up the Sky, Warner Bros. entered the fold and reached a distribution agreement with Doghouse, thus making The Honorary Title ’s music available nationwide. With a stronger platform in place, the guys were more focused and as a result, reached all of their goals. “What we accomplished on the new record was nobody wanted to kill each other … well maybe John and Aaron,” Gorbel jokes. “But we wanted bigger production and we had Rob Schnapf producing it. So right away, we just wanted to have a warm sounding record and not have it be overproduced or misrepresented. And I think we succeeded.”
Now he has to get used to receiving the inevitable hugs girls are bound to give him.