Volume 18 • Issue 27 | November 18 - 24, 2005

Brooklyn indie band Honorary Title, began as a solo project of Jarrod Gorbel (right) and now includes bassist Aaron Kamstra, left, and touring members, not pictured.

From second billing to starring act

By Emily Zemler

The Honorary Title, a Brooklyn indie rock band that began as the brainchild of Jarrod Gorbel, has played before stadium-size crowds while opening for the likes of Dashboard Confessional, and small clubs filled with their own fans. But Gorbel, who began The Honorary Title several years ago before it expanded into the fourpiece that is now on a nationwide headlining club tour, can’t decide which kind of show he prefers.

“Headlining is awesome and it has its advantages,” Gorbel explains from his cell phone on the road. “But opening for a band that can draw five million people—there’s something to say for that. There’s a lot less pressure on you,” he says, referring to his time as a warm-up act for Dashboard Confessional two years ago. “When you’re headlining, you are playing for your fans. People shut up when you play. Unless they’re singing along, of course.”

The Honorary Title’s debut album, “Anything Else But the Truth,” has been on shelves for over a year now, plenty of time for fans to memorize the lyrics, and for critics to begin chomping at the bit for their sophomore effort.

“It’s strange,” Gorbel says of watching his crowds mouth the words to his songs, which channel the same emotive quality as moody singer-songwriters like Ryan Adams and Dashboard Confessional. “And awesome. It fuels everything. Sometimes it’s kind of obnoxious if you get younger kids who are battling you in volume and you’re singing a ballad. You’ve got 12-year-olds screaming and it gets a little frustrating. But when they sing nicely it’s like a choir and it sounds great. Every once in a while I’ll try to figure out where to draw the line.”

Things have come full circle for Gorbel, a Long Island boy who began playing guitar at age 13. His hair metal phase ultimately gave way to folk, and he’s been tinkering with his sound ever since. Today, his music is characterized by his heartfelt, emotional songs, often about longing and heartbreak.

Touring on the same album for so long may get a bit tedious at times, but the Honorary Title does their best to keep the old songs sounding fresh and has begun to introduce new ones into their set lists.

“We have a lot of new songs and they’ve been part of the set the whole time,” Gorbel says. “We have most of the new album written already, we’re just waiting for time off to record.” They expect to get into the studio this January.

The Honorary Title and their tourmates, which currently include I Am the Avalanche and Waking Ashland, are also keeping things interesting with a tour journal on Fuse TV’s Web site. “I always like to read about what daily life is like for bands,” Gorbel explains. But instead of writing about where they are playing or what their set list is each night, Gorbel shares more intimate details on the blog, like a recent entry that includes instructions on how to successfully care for undergarments in the hotel bathroom. “It’s like, ‘Wow, we played a show, but did you know I blow-dried my underwear?’”

The Honorary Title play The Knitting Factory this Saturday night, November 19. Visit www.knittingfactory.com for more information.


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