“A whole new dark age!” Stuck vocalist Greg Obis shouts in “The Punisher,” the opening track on the Chicago-based band’s latest album Freak Frequency. It sets a tone for the project as a whole, which, according to Obis, is about “the inverse relationship between the slowly declining US empire and the seemingly endless escalation of paranoia, fear, and violence within it.”
Freak Frequency is haunting and frenzied, but still manages to be upbeat despite the subject matter thanks to the songs’ quick tempos and angular riffs as heard on tracks like “Time Out” and “Make It Up.” To celebrate Freak Frequency‘s release, Obis sat down with Uproxx to talk Fugazi, eggnog, and sleeping at a strangers’ mom’s house in our latest Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Unhinged, Ornate, Political, Simmering. (Pat Flegel once said we sound “kooky”).
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
I do get a bit squeamish sometimes writing such explicitly political music! I fear it will be cemented in its time like Crisis of Conformity or something. It’s unavoidable that the music is going to be tied to this moment (but I guess all music is, really.) I guess I would hope that people will remember it as tackling the topics of the time with enough nuance and broadness to remain fresh after all of these years, and approached with a unique sense of humor and a novel synthesis of disparate musical influences.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
I mean, saying Chicago is definitely cheating because we live and play here all the time. But Chicago is genuinely a great city to play cause people are genuinely excited about music here, which is sadly not the case in every city. People show up and get excited here. I am not alone in this sentiment, I hear this from other bands all the time! Maybe they’re just being nice to me. Anyways, if I can’t choose Chicago, Winnipeg!
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
Wow what a tough question! I do my best not to idolize people, and there are so many people who have been massively influential to me. But for the sake of argument, I’ll just say that Ian Mackaye of Fugazi was exceptionally formative to me in my youth. His very strong convictions, willingness to carve his own path, commitment to supporting other artists, powerful work ethic, and his ceaseless pursuit of new horizons for Fugazi’s music were really important to me growing up. I would say now that perhaps I’m a bit turned off by his punk dogmatism, as the world is a very grey and complicated place. But I would certainly not be the person I am today without him and his music.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
Tough to say what has been the best in my life, but I’m going to go with the dinner I had at Giant in Chicago last year. Like, every single thing I ate was pretty mind blowing to me.
What album do you know every word to?
A Distant Fist Unclenching by Krill.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Hard to me to say what is the best I’ve ever attended, but I can say that seeing J.R.C.G. live at Empty Bottle last year was one of the most visceral aesthetic experiences I’ve had in quite a long time.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
I am in the process of trying to figure this out now! I like to wear things that are sort of loose fitting and breathable as I get pretty hot on stage and tend to move around a lot. I feel like DEVO got it right with the jump suits, however it’d be a bit on the nose for me to co-opt that at this point.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
John Vanderslice is my favorite poster on Instagram, honestly. I’m a very big fan of his engineering and his music, and love when he posts about that stuff, but mostly it’s him sharing deeply unhinged videos from TikTok. It’s been harder and harder for me to take enjoyment from Twitter lately but Dril is evergreen.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
“Revenge” by Smirk. We don’t really do a lot of ironic listening in the car of music we don’t like. I think going forward I want to play “Master Of Puppets” by Metallica more often.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Crisis of Conformity.
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears. You know what’s the problem with that album? Nothing.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
In another band, we did a hail mary “ask people at the show for a place to crash” because the show had only been booked a couple of days before after a different one had fallen through. This young man who played the show very kindly offered to let us crash at “his place,” which turned out to be his mom’s house. The three of us crammed into his childhood bedroom, and we heard his mom come out of her room and scold him for “bringing home strangers again.” We got up first thing and high tailed it out of there.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I’ve got none!
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
When “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel comes on MeTV FM, I lose my mind. They also played the entire X-Files theme song on air around halloween once, which also made me lose my mind.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
This is going way back, but when I was little my immediate older brother and I would take the CTA from Oak Park to the Belmont and Clark area to go to the alt-friendly shops like Chicago Comics, The Alley, Belmont Army Surplus, Hollywood Mirror. One time when we were coming home, the temperature dropped really rapidly in a way that I remember being kind of scary (I was probably like 10 or 11). Some guy on the train platform straight up gave us his fake leather bomber jacket off of his back so we could huddle under it. To this day it kind of blows my mind how anyone could do that.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
Lifting weights isn’t for jocks, it’s fun and makes you feel good and being healthy is cool. Also, don’t start smoking.
What’s the last show you went to?
This past Friday I went to see Cola at Sleeping Village with support from my bandmate Ezra Saulnier in Red Tunic and Eli Winter. Great show!
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
I have been known to get sucked into a Marvel movie from time to time, most recently Guardians of the Galaxy.
What’s one of your hidden talents?
I make a mean aged eggnog. Melkbelly can attest to this.
Freak Frequency is out May 26 via Born Yesterday. Find more information here.