Student band Sober Sinners out with debut LP
Jimmy Kemper | Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Garrity McOsker, singer for Sober Sinners, a student punk rock band. The band is composed of Garrity, Joe Ferguson on bass, Alex McDermick on electric guitar and Patrick Samuels on drums. McOsker, who is currently a junior in the Mendoza College of Business, said he met Joe on the first day of school and started the band together quickly after that.
Sober Sinners just recently released its first full album, “A Trophy for Showing Up,” on Bandcamp for free. Garrity said the 10 songs on the album are “basically everything we’ve come up with since the inception of the band.”
Five of the songs came off their previous EP, “Backyards and Battle scars,” which was released in May of last year. The band has remastered them and made a few changes and improvements.
The album came out as a result of McOsker’s friendship with Heath Hicks and Jeff Wobenwool, band members of local Mishawaka band Nothing Left Inside. Hicks and Wobenwool offered Sober Sinners access to their recording equipment for free, under the condition that this album would available free of charge.
“I was really excited about this opportunity,” McOsker said. “My goal from the start was to just spread my music, and Heath and Jeff gave me a great chance to do that.”
Sober Sinners have developed a fast-paced, energetic sound over their time together. The band has covered a wide variety of themes for the album, ranging from advocating social justice to sarcastic quips about Notre Dame culture.
The opening track “Anthem,” for instance, is a “joke party song,” making fun of the Notre Dame party scene and its lack of originality. Another important song for the band is “Zio,” Italian for “uncle.” McOsker says this song is about his relationship with his uncle, who he looked up to as a child and that it’s a song audiences tend to understand more.
McOsker even wrote a song in Spanish while studying in Ecuador, entitled “Yo Te Dije.” The song is rather unique for the band.
“I wrote it as a sort of love song, which is weird for a punk rock band,” McOsker said. “So I figured if we had a punk love song, I’d have to write it in Spanish so no one would know.”
McOsker is from Los Angeles, and has been greatly influenced by Latin culture, so he said this type of song was important for him to write.
Last summer, McOsker says the band went on a “mini-tour” through Milwaukee, Mishawaka and towns near Chicago. McOsker said he was “emailing about 30 people everyday over the summer. It was a bunch of the shots in the dark, and we were just trying to make it happen.”
It paid off, and they eventually got the bookings they wanted. They did encounter difficulties along the way though.
“Our first show was at this bar in Milwaukee to an audience of one guy. It was a Sunday and the Packers game was on, so maybe everyone else didn’t get the memo.”
McOsker also had some important advice for students who aspire to form their own band and make their own music.
“If you want to start a band, start writing original music as fast as you can. Don’t worry about everything. You need to view it as a creative process and not an assignment. Notre Dame students can tend to have a perfectionist attitude, which doesn’t work with this. It’s not something to excel at, It’s something that’ll be memorable. There’s frustrations in a band and writing your own music, but at the end of the day you still all have the feeling of ‘I can’t wait till I play again.’”
When asked about the future of Sober Sinners, McOsker had a clear vision.
“We’re gonna keep playing,” he said.
He also mentioned that though they have been doing a number of bar shows recently, McOsker hoped that Sober Sinners could play again in the Fisher basement sometime soon.
Sober Sinners will be playing at McCormick’s next Thursday as part of the South by South Bend Music Festival. Their album is available for free on their Bandcamp page www.sobersinners.bandcamp.com