The last time we heard from the Mobros, it sounded like a DIY Cinderella story. Brothers Kelly and Patrick Morris were just a couple kids playing bluesy garage-soul songs, winning a talent show, and starting their first big tour in support of their debut LP, 2014's Walking with a Different Stride. They were even being courted by a producer or two, just to smash the glass slipper so they could play their own tunes. But, what does a band do with four years of downtime between records? In the case of the Mobros, the answer is a lot.
"We toured for about two years," says drummer Patrick. The referenced tour was a string of shows that spanned horizontally across the U.S. Near the end of their run to the West Coast and back, the self-described independent soul duo realized that they were lacking a quiet room of their own to do one of the most important things for a band to do. "On the road, at least, it was hard to really find a place to write," says Patrick. Believing that a change of scenery could further their career, the Mobros grabbed their parkas and headed to Chicago.
Sadly, for the band's songwriting, the time in the Windy City proved somewhat fruitless because of the same issue that plagued them while touring. "It was hard to find a studio or somewhere we could rehearse and really flesh out this music," says Patrick. "So, moving here for us was like a choice to see where we were going from here. And this record for us is the first representation of what we feel like is who we are."
In form, the band is similar to their previous incarnation. "Carrie Anne," the first single from the album which currently goes by the working title Characters, works the garage-blues swagger found on Walking with a Different Stride. Guitarist Kelly's softly overdriven guitar complements his busy playing, as he supports the majority of the melody through his effusive vocals. Patrick remains calm in the music, adding a sharp drum pop to thicken up the background. As with most two-piece guitar-and-drum groups, the riff is the cornerstone holding the music together.
While the form stays largely the same, the content of the new music is leaps ahead of their prior work. "Escapism, I think, is a big concept and each of the songs has a concept to them," says Patrick. "Carrie Anne" toys with the idea of identity crisis. The song charts a conversation between a man and his internal persona, a perfect beauty named Carrie Anne. "Carrie Anne is a ghost inhabiting anyone who is summoned by conflicting internal and external personas, where psyche contradicts physique," the band said in the song's press release. While it's not as aggressively metaphysical as it sounds in the description, the lyrics do speak to the themes with clarity. "Carrie Anne, do you dream somebody will get to know you/ Carrie Anne, do you understand/ The person you see in the mirror is not a man, nor a savior/ Or somebody with the right exterior for this world," Kelly sings.
The band has taken a step away from the mild lo-fi sound of their nascent project, toward greater clarity. The band renewed their focus on tone throughout the recording process, claiming to have spent the last year and a half meticulously toying with different sounds. They "re-recorded each of these songs many, many times," says Patrick. While it's not unheard of for a group to rearrange their instruments, put them in different locations, or play with different amplifiers to achieve the best sound to represent their music, it's less heard of for a band to spend over a year on it. Recording Characters was an arduous process based on the FDA-approved method of trial and error. "All of that is coming to fruition on this year this record," says Kelly.
In the end, every experience from the last four years, especially touring, seems to have influenced the new album. Kelly says, "I think one of the main components, the drive of the record, the whole texture, and the concept really has come from travelling a lot and playing to larger audiences and kind of growing and learning how to present, communicate, and translate all of our stories to the crowd, to the audiences the best way we can."
Patrick and Kelly will share "Carrie Anne" on May 24, a new single in June, and Characters in August, making this the Summer of Mobros.