The brainchild of Madre guitarist Andrew Sayne, Knoxville trio Meob began as a sort-of side project, something for Sayne and fellow Madre member Stephen Osborne to do while their original outfit went on an indefinite hiatus.
Some two years later, Meob is looking more and more like a new indie-rock fixture on the Knoxville scene, an estimable entity unto itself as Sayne, along with bassist Osborne and drummer Josh Manis look to release the first Meob albume by early spring. “The record has been a year-and-a-half in the making,” Sayne says. “So at this point, we’re pretty eager to get it out. It’s done and ready, we just have to do the final touches — figure out album artwork and design, stuff like that.”
Recorded mostly live, the new self-titled 11-song albume is self-produced, with the multi-talented Manis taking on the more technical production and mixing chores. The first single, “New Nouns,” is available for download on the Meob Bandcamp page.
Think of Meob as a Knoxville indie-rock supergroup, of sorts. Featuring two frontman-caliber singers — Osborne is lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Madre, while Manis serves the same role in the local four-piece Gamenight — and three experienced songwriters, the band might have easily devolved into a battle of egos, a three-way creative tug-of-war.
Fortunately, Sayne and company aren’t given to that kind of egocentrism — there’s not a shred of indie-rock ‘tude emanating from any of these three unassuming gents. What’s more, the trio essentially came of age as part of the same mid-’00s Fort Sanders musical milieu, having shared marquees and stages and bar tabs for over a decade now.
While Sayne has remained Meob’s chief songwriter, in some sense — “I’m usually the one who brings in the skeleton of what the song will be,” — he says Manis and Osborne contributed heavily to the evolution of Meob’s sound.
“The first songs I brought in have changed a whole lot since the beginning,” he says. “We’re kind of going down the rabbit hole of our own creativity. We’re not afraid to try everything, and then go with what we like.
“We’re more comfortable with each other in writing now. Everybody in the band has lots of experience songwriting. Those guys are always suggesting something new — what if we changed this guitar part? What if we did this with the drums? They’re always bringing in really good new ideas.”
You can here some of what Sayne is referring to if you listen to Meob’s — still very limited — online output. When the project first got started, Sayne threw three demos up on the fledgling Meobmusic.com website, “just so people would have something to listen to.” The three songs — “No/Know,” “Overtime Holiday” and “Keroshina” — offer plenty of promise, all bright pop-rock crunch punctuated by the occasional punkish yowl, then leavened with quieter, more ruminative interludes.
The new song “New Nouns”, to an extent, offers more of the same. But the balance is better, the melding of crunch and catharsis and introspection more seamless, the whole greater than the sum of its parts. “We’re much more of a unit now,” observes Sayne.
In the meantime, Meob have already written nine new songs in addition to the 11 that will appear on the new record, and Sayne assures that, “the measure of how far we’ve come as a band is even more evident on the latest tunes.
“I’d love to get started on them right away, but we need to get this record out first, give it time to breathe, maybe tour a little bit. But as soon as everyone’s up for it, we’ll get started on record number two.”
Meob will play Scruffy City Hall Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m.