Their name is OBN III’s, and they’re probably the umpteenth garage band from Austin/Memphis/San Francisco you’ve been dragged to see in the last year — but they also may be the best.
Like that painting of Jesus in your grandma’s house, lead singer and band namesake Orville Bateman Neely III has the ability to make eye contact with the whole room at once. Between stories about “high school hell” (“Nicky the Knife”) and screeds about “people fucking in the street” (“People are Afraid”), you’ll be racking your mind to remember the last time you saw a frontman so engaging, ferocious and just plain funny at the same time. (Above: a clip from their show at Don Pedro last year.)
We sat with Neely at Cake Shop before the band’s show at Mercury Lounge, where we talked about overpriced sandwiches, the lack of good bathrooms and ZZ Top’s early hints at space travel. The band plays again tonight at Death By Audio with Ex-Cults, Shocked Minds and Pampers.
Are the sandwiches big? We were saying that it should come with a pack of cigarettes or six beers or something. I mean, it looked and smelled amazing, but as soon as we all got in there, it’s like, “order here,” “order there” and we look up at the menu and it’s like, fuck this. We rushed to the door and they have like, a bodyguard-type guy who’s just like, “Give me a ticket.”
You mean Panna II…?
One on each basement and one on each top floor, and he was like, there are guys outside trying to get you inside. I was just so glad that I wasn’t high or something when I went in there. I don’t even smoke weed very much and when I do I’m bad in public, but to go in a place that’s lit the way it is, there’s like hundreds of thousands of light bulbs, just colors everywhere and you look down the place and it’s just like you can barely tell there’s people there — you can hear them and you can see them, but it’s just lights everywhere.
Well I think they should be. I wish more places were decorated like that, but you know the more places, the novelty wears out. People will say, “I really like this place down the street from there. They just had plain white walls.” People will start raving about the fluorescent lights.
The first album was done in a garage on a four track, and the first few seven inches, and the second one we did in the studio at the Sweatbox, which is no longer in Austin (it moved to Portland, Oregon). Anyway, there’s stuff about the second album that I like, and things that I don’t. It will be different, but the same in a way, but we won’t say too much about it. When it comes out, you’ll know, or at least I hope.
Oh, the Eliminator? The Afterburner cover is the one where they started getting into space, but if you think about it, they were hinting at it with Tejas, because they’re in the desert, but the moon’s out there.