Oobleck – Interview – Thanks for Asking

Written by on January 29, 2024

Oobleck – Interview – Thanks for Asking – Interview by Liam Sweeny.

We reached out to Audrey Van Genechten, band leader and trumpet player for Oobleck. She was a gracious host and may have served tea.

RRX: Every comic book hero has an origin story. What is the origin story for the band? (points if you tell it like a comic book origin.)

AVG: After college I lived and worked in NYC doing audio/video production.  It was a great job but extremely demanding and left zero time to play trumpet.  When I eventually moved up to Albany, I made a promise to myself that I would start a band. And I did.  We were named Duchess and the Afro Dub Rebels. We had a lineup change after the first year or so, and we rebranded ourselves as Oobleck. 3 of 5 original members are still part of the band 15+ years later.

RRX: Every band’s first song is a milestone. But so is the latest song. Describe the first song/album you recorded, and also the latest song/album you recorded; what are the differences?

AVG: I think every album feels totally different. We’ve released four at this point.  Our first album as Oobleck was “Tell Your Mom I Said Hi,” we all lived in apartments and at the time, two of us were working for Community Gardens.  We used to rehearse after hours in the space there on the south side of River Street in Troy and that’s where we ended up recording the album. We had been playing together for a while and that album came together very naturally. Our drummer went to school for audio technology, so we’ve always diy’ed, with our own gear, live takes with hopefully minimal punch-ins.

This last album was so long overdue. We had had two bass personnel changes since 2018, then COVID happened which slowed everything down. Our new album, “Down the Rabbit Hole” was the most challenging we’ve ever done. Many of the songs are on the longer side which can be difficult when you’re doing live takes (6 people need to do a nearly perfect take).  We had technical issues with our gear that caused issues in post, it was recorded over a long period of time. We gigged a lot while we were recording, which I don’t recommend. But it’s done, it’s released, some of the songs are pretty scripted, some are not. We were able to capture some really great improvised builds, and we are proud of it!

RRX: Like songs, every band has a unique feeling about their first show. What was your first show like? Was it your best show? If not, what was your best show like?

AVG: We’ve been playing together for over 15 years, so our first show was a long time ago.  I’m pretty sure our first show was at Red Square (aka Parish Public House, aka Nanola South now) with Nautilus (eventually The Chronicles).  My favorite part of that show was actually before the show – there were several horn players between the two bands so we jumped on an Albany trolley that was driving around and made it into a New Orleans style second line to drum up some extra support around town.

We have a long connection with the Rye Bread community of people, they’ve always been supportive of Oobleck and are true music lovers. My favorite show is probably one of our late night sets at their festival. Middle of the summer, hot as the devil, outside fest that had a noise curfew, so everyone moved into this big barn for the late night set.  The energy was tangible and the place was just packed, we played for hours and it was a great night.

RRX: Music genres are difficult for some bands. Some strictly adhere; others not so much. What is your perspective on the genre you play, or the genres you hover around?

AVG: Ah, I’ve always felt we were the bastard step-children of Albany.  Too jazz to be jam, to jam to be jazz.  Not a cover band. Grunged-out afro funk? Sure.

Oobleck has a sound for sure, a bit of Zappa, a bit of Fela, a bit of JB’s funk, and anyone who’s a fan of heavy music will notice that our drummer may or may not have been a hardcore drummer in his past life.  It’s in our name – if you hit a non-newtonian fluid hard, it acts as a solid, if you swirl it around gently, it acts as a fluid. We strive to make people dance, for it to be cathartic, a little weird, to challenge ourselves, and in our best moments, create something unexpected for both the audience and the band. I’m always curious to hear how others classify us.  Often we hear people say that “it takes them back to New Orleans,” so that’s a pretty good compliment as far as I’m concerned.

RRX: It’s a lot of fun living in the present, but we all collect memories and give birth to dreams. We’re talking dreams here. Where you see yourself next year? In the next five years?

AVG: Oobleck is in a good place right now.  With the album behind us we are itching to write again (oh the irony!). We’re a family, so continuing to build and cultivate that, and push ourselves and each other as musicians.  Playing wise, I’d love to expand a little more regionally and make it out to Syracuse, Ithaca, and Western Mass in the next year. It’s always great to get on a few local festivals and make some unexpected musical pairings with other bands.

In 5 years – keep on keeping on – we’ve supported each other and continued making music through marriages, children, deaths, and full-time careers. I think it’s important for young musicians to realize that relentlessly touring is not the only way to be able to make music and build a life for yourself.  Some people thrive on it, at least for a while, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, especially at the expense of physical or mental health.

RRX: We all get a little support from those around us. And we also can be impressed by our fellow bands. Who do you admire in your community, and why?

AVG: It’s fascinating to see how the scene has changed since 2008, and especially since coming out of COVID. It feels like a lot of the venues have changed, there are many new opportunities and better development of small and mid-sized clubs, especially in the past 6-12 months which is very welcomed. There is also a lot of energy behind many new bands, in many new genres. The Sugar Hold, E-Block, Tops of Trees to name a few.  For a long time it felt like if you weren’t classified as an Indie or a cover band, you might as well forget about it in the Capital Region.

As far as community – I really respect Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets – they’ve been around for a long time and Dave and Pete have cultivated a great community of musicians that support many up and coming musicians.  The folks at Jive Hive are doing a great thing both at the hive and in the community. Greg Bell brings a tremendous amount of bands through the area.  And the fans – a huge shout-out to the Rye Bread folks, OG and NG, I didn’t really feel like we found a home in the Capital Region until we found that community of folks.



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