The Obsessives are the duo of Nick Bairatchnyi (guitar, vocals) and Jackson Mansfield (drums). Their self-titled sophomore album bursts with bouncy indie rock and homespun emo. The Obsessives is out now; listen to ‘It’s Not Fair’ below.
Twenty-year old buds Nick and Jackson have been playing music together since the age of 15, and have become so close that Nick says they basically share the same brain. The pair recorded The Obsessives in the basement of a now-defunct Philadelphia DIY venue called Michael Jackson House, which Nick says is “definitely definitely haunted.”
Read our email interview with Nick Bairatchnyi below.
Culture Creature: How did your partnership as songwriters evolve on the new album?
Nick Bairatchnyi: While we were writing this album, we were sharing a bedroom at Michael Jordan House in Philly, both working as baristas at the same coffee place, and spending all of our free time working on the demos of the songs. So we had a lot of time to spend together. I think that since we started hanging out and writing music together, the subconscious part of our brains, like the part defined by your experiences, kind of fused together because we spent all our time together. So we got to share one life from two perspectives, so think two bodies, one brain.
What’s one element of a song that has to be just right in order for you to be satisfied with it?
The drums. If we’re writing the song together usually we will spend a pretty good amount of time just talking out the drum patterns for all the different songs. Jackson and I have found it’s usually easier for me to come up with drum parts because it’s not the instrument I’m used to playing, so my perspective is a little “fresher.” And Jackson will write the bass parts usually.
You have a song named after Pixies’ Surfer Rosa. What is one quality that you admire most about the Pixies?
Definitely the ability to write like the best hookiest pop songs that are also some of the coolest sounding songs ever. The songs are weird and the vibes are earnest and the arrangement and production of their songs is just inspirational. They don’t seem to care, just wanna write interesting simple catchy songs.
Did Philadelphia influence the songs or emotions on the new album, and if so, how
Philadelphia had an undeniable influence on our album. If you’re interested in the mythology, we wrote it living in MJ and that house is definitely definitely haunted. It just always felt like the songs were almost coming out of the house. If we spent the day in the basement writing or demoing songs or something, after a few hours it would feel like someone else was in the basement with us. Really spooky stuff. But besides the ghost, having friends who were always willing to listen to our new demos and give us feedback was game-changing. The biggest thing was just having peers that are so musically talented, it creates a sometimes healthy atmosphere of competition in which you feel like you have to keep up with the quality of songs your friends are producing.
You guys chose to commit to The Obsessives instead of going to college. Do you recall a moment, song, or show that made you feel strongly that going all-in with the band was the right decision?
The first time we drove away from DC to play an out of town show on “tour” (summer 2014), I remember looking at each other and saying something like “we should do this forever.”
The entire experience of going to different colleges made us feel like we weren’t really ourselves without the shared activity of working on songs together everyday.
Every time we have ever played a show tbh.
What’s one non-musical thing you’re obsessed with right now?
I am currently obsessed with the Spanish Civil War and how it was one of the few times anarchy functioned in the place of a state in the post-industrial world. On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky folks, read it!