Jarrod Gorbel is a man without a band. Well, sort of. Even he isn't quite sure about the future. After six years fronting the Honorary Title, Gorbel is ready to move on.
"Nobody knows — you heard it first," says Gorbel. "I mean, people know, but it's not 100 percent because it's kind of confusing what the Honorary Title is. It's kind of like Bright Eyes. Was Bright Eyes Conor Oberst, or was it something else? Is Dashboard Confessional Chris Carrabba, or is it that band he put together?"
Those who don't know much about the Honorary Title assume the band is Gorbel with a guitar. That's how it started, but it soon morphed into a full band with a rotating cast. Even Gorbel isn't sure how many members the group has had over the years.
"It's a slutty band, like 8,000 members," he says, rattling off a list of names. He says fans know the Honorary Title members who played on the group's last record, 2007's Scream and Light Up the Sky. The band is calling it quits after the current acoustic tour, which features Gorbel and keyboardist Dustin Dobernig.
The Honorary Title's decision to disband didn't come about in the usual way. There were no drunken arguments or disputes over leadership. No one got hurt feelings or walked out in the middle of a show. Gorbel was in the studio recording the band's upcoming album when he realized the songs he was writing didn't sound like the Honorary Title. So he decided the band should break up.
His upcoming solo record features some well-known indie mainstays. Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley produced and played guitar. Jason Boesel of Rilo Kiley and Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band played drums. Although Gorbel doesn't plan to release the album until early next year, you won't have to wait until then for new music. Gorbel also recorded an EP, which he's selling on tour. (He also plans to release it after the tour.)
The Honorary Title released Anything Else But The Truth in 2004, back when it was just Gorbel and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Kamstra. With Gorbel's throaty voice, melancholy songwriting and mix of folk and pop, the band was a perfect fit in the thriving Brooklyn music scene.
"Starting in the Brooklyn and New York scene is kind of difficult," says Gorbel. "It's super hip. There are so many cool bands and labels, and it's intimidating. When I think of Brooklyn or New York music, I don't think of mine. I think along the lines of the Strokes or the Virgins or the French Kicks, the Nationals."
In 2007, Gorbel and friends jumped from indie label Doghouse Records to Warner Bros. and released Scream and Light Up the Sky, a record that was musically fuller than its predecessor. There were fewer acoustic-driven mellow songs and more fast-paced, full-band rock songs. But it was still filled with biographical lyrics and had a slightly unpolished appeal.
Gorbel says he's content not messing with what works. Listeners can expect an acoustic-based record, with different voices (including female), lush keyboards and a chill vibe. As far as the lryics go, nothing has changed.
"Even if the melodies or the instrumentation vary, the content is still love, drugs and depression," he says. "It's just different stories."
Gorbel could talk for hours about the Honorary Title and why he decided to go solo, but he'd rather be brief.
"It's good times, but I'm over it. Sorry, I could bullshit for an hour." He adopts a nasally, mad scientist voice: "I think that the deviation of the emancipation of why we are condescendingly diverting ... what the fuck am I talking about?" he says laughing, his voice back to normal. "Where am I going with this show? I'm not saying anything."