Imaginary future now feels all too real to conceptual power-pop band Bobgoblin
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Once upon a time, Dallas-based power-pop band Bobgoblin imagined a country where a nationalistic demagogue pitched his country into a dystopia after feeding on the fears of "the other."
Bobgoblin founder and lead singer Hop Litzwire had no idea that the politically tinged pop-punk music he began writing 20-something years ago would come to feel — to him, at least, and many of the band's fans — so prescient.
"Believe me, we didn't really want to live out this reality," Litzwire wrote in a late-night Nov. 9 post on the band's Facebook page. "I will say, when we first made it up, critics — and I have even agreed with some of their opinions on the matter — dismissed the concept as 'unwieldy' and stupid. Yeah, unfortunately it was so stupid that it had to begin to unfold in real life."
Bobgoblin — which returns to Amarillo for a 10 p.m. Saturday show at Leftwood's, 2511 S.W. Sixth Ave.; cover is $5, and Amarillo band Deathbelles will open — began as a more conceptual project in which the band helped smuggle contraband ideas to a populace under the thumb of a dictator censoring anything he disagreed with.
"The original concept was the dividing of the nation, and it felt (on Election Day 2016), and not just that day but the days leading up to that day, that there was this behemoth of one side being completely through with the other," Litzwire said. "I don't see a literal division (like he'd written of) occurring, but there is a definite psychological underpinning of one side against the other — and it felt like what I had written."
Bobgoblin eventually shed a lot of its high-concept ideas, though the band still dresses in a militaristic fashion, but the underlying political message hasn't really changed, Litzwire said.
"We have been talking about this stuff for a long time," he said. "The punk I come from is very politically infused."
So how will the current political environment play out in the band's new music?
"It's definitely got me on a writing flow," he said, "but in terms of socio-political content, it probably won't be different than the beginning because I've always been writing about it."
Take, for example, the band's new single "Danger," which warns of people's way of thinking being changed by seeing charged images thrown at them by the media in all its forms. That plays out in a music video by bringing to life the stick-man figure from caution signs and having him try to survive all kinds of hazards.
The song was inspired by Litzwire's own struggles with dealing with stress: "I realized that with all of these images and stuff I was getting bent out of shape by, there were probably people worse off than me that could just lose it.
"And these days, it's even worse because of all of the negative stimuli."
But messages like that, and the band's original freedom-fighter concept, aren't necessarily at the forefront of its act these days.
"I originally thought people could learn from this, as if I was presenting some essay from the stage," Litzwire said. "That ain't going to happen. People want to rock, and I do, too, but we're coming at it from that angle and hopefully writing songs with good hooks."