I knocked on the door. I waited. I knocked again and waited. I had come representing Blank to speak with MEOB about their impending new album at their North Knoxville practice space, and, well…it was beginning to look like they forgot I was coming.
“Oh yea, I forgot to tell them,” bandleader and primary songwriter Andrew Sayne says, laughing, over a beer with drummer Josh Manis on the back porch, after bassist Stephen Osborne reluctantly opened the door and led me back there. The trio had just finished a jam and were taking a break.
The new album, as yet untitled, is the band’s first full-length LP and will feature 11 new songs. “I don’t want to give too much away,” Sayne says. “A lot is up in the air…we’re doing it right, trying to make our first release worth the wait.”
“Hoping to have it done by the end of the year, right?” Obsorne asks.
“Stocking stuffer for Santa, right?” quips Manis.
The guys unfortunately weren’t able to get masters back in time for the holidays, but the album is almost ready and they plan to release it early this year. They’ll be playing with Sweet Years and Manis’ other band, Gamenight, at Scruffy City Hall on February 11 in what will be their first big show after releasing it..
The first single, “New Nouns,” is available now, first via Blank at meobmusic.bandcamp.com.
The album was largely self-recorded and mostly done live, at Sayne’s and Manis’ homes. Manis “masterminded the production,” Sayne says, but when it comes to the songwriting, the other guys defer to Sayne as the mastermind behind MEOB’s sound.
“We’ll help shape a song,” Manis says, “but it definitely comes from Andrew’s brain.”
Osborne adds “he’s pretty loose with letting us pick our parts but I’d say Andrew is leading the charge.”
MEOB, named after Sayne’s friends’ actually pretty harsh signifier for his stature (“Man-Eating Ogre-Boy”), may be so relaxed and deferential to Sayne’s vision because they all have had other outlets for their writing and vision–Osborne often wrote in his and Sayne’s past band Madre, and Manis has written much of the material on the several albums Gamenight has put out.
The new stuff as MEOB is pretty tight, dynamic and frenetic, dark at points and paradoxically ebullient and bouncy at others. The band let me sit in on a live rendition of one of the upcoming songs, “Francis,” a syncopated rocker with cool stops, interesting key breaks and turnarounds and some cool harmonizing vocals and guitars.
I usually play a game with the band where we compare which bands they’d cite as their influences with the ones I had in mind and see how many we got in common, and Modest Mouse was definitely the closest thing we could all agree on this time around.
“If Frank Black and Isaac Brock has a baby, it’d be Andrew,” Osborne says.
Babies may not be on the immediate horizon for the band, but with Osborne recently married and Sayne recently engaged, the album seems to reflect all the excitement and cognitive dissonance that major life transitions evoke.
“The theme is ‘changes,’” Sayne simply says, laughing.