In truth, music never dies. It always comes back. It’s resurrected every time you hit play. Not only is music never dead, it’s not even lost. And if you’re lucky, sometimes it will find you.
Case in point: Wobitty, an artifact lost in the flood from the last high watermark for popular music, the 1990s. Like the best music of that era, the songs on Wobitty’s newly rescued and revived album push boundaries creatively, stylistically, and sonically; they merge multiple genres and influences; they ably fulfill one of the great functions of music: to transport the listener, to provide a psychic, sometimes physical escape.
If that’s not enough, these songs flat out rock.
So where did Wobitty come from, and how did it get here? It began in the early ’90s with three young musicians in Mississippi—Ted Gainey, Tom Queyja, and Brian Walker. Tom and Brian, a pair of Oxford skate punks, were channeling their love of Jane’s Addiction, The Cult, the Beastie Boys, and Primus into their maiden project, Brutha Fiend. Then along came Ted, laying grooves for hard rock tricksters Scapegoat. The three convened in a rental house right across the road from the university. They set up a sound lab in the back bedroom, and this is where the Wobitty was born.
The college music scene was thriving at this time, and one of the most fertile seams was the Wobitty home studio, dubbed The Lip. A host of local musicians and artists passed through, stopping to listen or make their own contribution.
The band produced one album, Probe, sold at shows or copied and passed around on cassettes and home-burned CDs. But for all the work and ingenuity, the band’s recording found no proper channel to the wider world. As it turns out, no-cover shows will keep the artist broke. They were stretched too thin to press and distribute a proper album, and all these great sounds might have remained buried had the guys’ love for recording, mixing, and engineering not evolved into careers and side gigs. Ted went on to record his own solo music while producing for Mississippi icons like Cary Hudson and Duff Dorrough. Tom cut his teeth professionally on albums by Modest Mouse and Garrison Starr before moving The Lip out to Los Angeles.
They’ve spent the last 25 years making other artists’ music sound good, so it only makes sense that they’d return to their roots and give Wobitty a modern restoration.
In their spare time over the years, Tom and Ted passed mixes back and forth. Ted would go out west to visit. Sometimes Tom would come back south. Eventually, after processing hours of tape and polishing the old takes with their advanced engineering know-how, a proper Wobitty album came to light.
“We tried to get it to sound the way it did in our heads in our twenties, when we didn’t know how to make it sound that way,” says Ted. “We are who we needed back in the ’90s.”
“Some of the songs kept bubbling up in my mind over the years, and I would think it’s still relative to what’s going on today, that it still has a place in the world,” says Tom. “It unclogs my own creative chute to give these things a good send off, jettison them into the universe properly. Let them take a life of their own now.”
Aside from the three founding members, there are a host of musicians who contributed and helped lift these songs to another level. From Wobitty stalwarts Bill “Lil B” Perry and the brothers Slade and Brandon Lewis, to Marco Devera on violin, Jeff Callaway on trombone, and Chalmers Davis on keyboards.
And so, this is Wobitty, retaining all the rage, passion, humor, and hunger of youth. For any who were there, it’s a precious piece of ’90s Oxford, preserved and born again, without expectation and serving no second agenda, pushing no watered-down comeback or nostalgic trip, only existing as a testament of raw ambition, endeavor, and curiosity.
And for those who never knew it, accept this beautiful gift, slow cured and hand-rolled, carried over years, patient to find curious ears and discerning minds. [Excerpted from the album’s liner notes.]
Wobitty’s new self-titled album is available for purchase as a limited-edition 12” vinyl, compact disc, or digital album at wobitty.bandcamp.com/album/wobitty, and will soon be available at The End of All Music in Oxford, Mississippi.
by Jamie Kornegay