A couple weeks ago, Chicago-based pop punk group This Obsession released its sophomore album, A Confrontational Effort, on Wiretap Records. Today, Riot Fest exorcises the above “Yo… I’m No Good” video for an exclusive premiere.
We briefly caught up with singer/guitarist Mark Kronenberg about the band’s new record, and how their new video came together.
RIOT FEST: How would you describe any difference in your approach to songwriting from [2014’s] Cheers to Regret to A Confrontational Effort?
MARK KRONENBERG: The songwriting approach changed a bit from Cheers to Regret because the majority of the songs were written with the band present. I’d write a set of lyrics that were incomplete with a melody, then would approach the band with all of it. We’d then write parts together and complete the song.
A Confrontational Effort was written with a different approach. I had the worst experience in attempting to write songs for a solid two years, consistently scrapping the songs. I was dealing with depression [after the end of] a two-and-a-half year relationship with a girl that I got engaged to. One day, she literally cut communications with me. I eventually heard from her in a letter weeks later saying she was ending it. She mentioned that my depression and insecurities were too much for her to handle, and that she couldn’t continue to deal with them any longer.
Life seemed to the end at that moment because I was so in love, and that was the only thing that made me happy at that point… besides playing music with the band. Fortunately, that situation was the kick for me to write, in my opinion, the best songs I’ve ever made. I started writing alone with my acoustic guitar, [then] took [the material] to the band to turn them into punk songs.
There are moments on A Confrontational Effort that feel reminiscent of the long tradition of Chicago punk bands like Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms. Is this a fair assumption? What bands have influenced This Obsession over time, and specifically with the making of this record?
Absolutely. I won’t bullshit you. Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms have been huge influences of my writing. I was raised by deaf parents, so I had no musical background. I picked up the guitar, but never took any guitar or vocal lessons. I developed an interest in metal music and was the vocalist in a rock band that [Jon Jakubik, This Obsession drummer] and I played in back in the day.
Jon was always a pop-punk fan, and Jess [Otto, This Obsession bassist/vocalist] was kind of all over the place with metal and punk. I started listening to Alkaline Trio one day and fell in love with Matt Skiba’s writing. I’ve had tons of people tell me [that we sound like Alkaline Trio]. Most bands might feel ashamed for being compared to their influences; but to me, I don’t care… to me, it’s a compliment.
I was listening to Red City Radio, Against Me!, and Social Distortion while writing this album. Whatever sound we have, we try our best to make it as This Obsession-sounding as we can.
“Yo… I’m No Good” is a very dark video, seemingly contrasting with the high-energy sound of the song. Where did the idea for the video treatment come from?
“Yo… I’m No Good” does have a dark video; I love it! The contrast wasn’t something I took into consideration. It’s personally a song I think is fun, punchy, and darker, lyrically, than the rest of the album. I have a strong love for horror films and [had] this idea of wanting to do an Exorcist-type of video; it seemed fitting for the lyrics.
I reached out to Andrew Palmer, a buddy of mine who helped film and starred in the movie, Anne and Andy. He got in touch with that film’s director, Jordan Selander, and little did I know that Jordan shares the same love and passion of horror films that I do.
What does the title A Confrontational Effort mean?
I didn’t come up the title until after the band recorded the album. We chose to not settle on a title for so long because we wanted to make sure that after we heard it in its entirety, we’d know what it meant. [The album] is about confronting the people that have left me, did me wrong, stood in my way of progress, and/or tried to hinder me. They all reflect a point in my life that I wish I was able to confront differently. It’s an album that anyone can relate to and enjoy.
You’ve been together since 2009. This is your second full-length album as a band. What’s next for the group?[We want] to play as many shows as we can. We have been booking a ton, which is great. I’m talking to the band currently about setting up tours that we can do in support of the album. Other than that, I think it’s about time I get back to writing new material so we don’t have to wait as long to release another album!
A Confrontational Effort Track List:
01. Arm in Arm
02. My Own Game
03. Punk-Ass Kid
04. Bottoms Up
05. Poetry for Dummies
07. Yo… I’m No Good
08. Pop Out My Eyes
09. Deep Water
10. Paint Your Bed
Buy A Confrontational Effort from This Obsession’s Bandcamp.