My Friends

Arrow Up

Arrow Up
Arrow Down
,
: Please Configure.
  • Thu
    27
  • Fri
    28
  • Sat
    29
  • Sun
    30
  • Mon
    1
  • Tue
    2
  • Wed
    3
Del Mar Mile Family Fun Run Nov 27, 2014 Kickoff Thanksgiving with a one mile run on the racetrack with a portion of the proceeds benefit Helen Woodward Animal Center and their equestrian therapy program. 47 other events on Thursday, November 27
 
Film
New Christopher Nolan epic leads our rundown of movies screening around town
Theater
First production by the latest troupe to launch in San Diego leads our rundown of local plays
Editorial
Bring it with you on Nov. 4
News
More than 3 years after his death, a jury will decide if it could have been prevented

 

 
Log in to use your Facebook account with
San Diego CityBeat

Login With Facebook Account

Recent Activity on San Diego CityBeat
 
Home / Articles / News / News /  Double billed
. . . .
Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006

Double billed

The unassuming Jason Torbert is Goddamn Electric Bill

By Caley Cook

Jason Torbert leads a deceptively Clark Kent life. He affixes his stare to a computer by day with short, office-job hair and a conspicuous lack of a tan. He awkwardly turns his unassuming frame around to make eye contact, but only when absolutely necessary.

But look a little longer, and ask a few more questions, and Torbert's animated, illustrated life will emerge.

He is the one-man mastermind behind Goddamn Electric Bill, an electronic hopscotch of post-rock, indie and ambient sounds built in his bedroom. He is on a first-name basis with former Cure keyboardist Roger O'Donnell. He has more MySpace friends than all of you combined. And no one was ever supposed to hear about it.

“This was just a release for me,” Torbert says, sipping a bit of the froth from the top of his beer and then returning his gaze to the opposite side of the bar. “It's a weight off my shoulders.”

The music industry is nothing new to Torbert. He spent seven years as the bassist for a popular punk outfit called Cigar-“we were huge in Canada,” he says-before they called it quits. He tried his luck at a few other projects, but decided that the band atmosphere wasn't for him. Needing a release, Torbert started recording everything he could think of-bass, guitar, keys, Rhodes, sitar, mbira, percussion, landscape noise-and left the imperfections on tape. The sessions turned into his first Goddamn Electric Bill full-length, Swallowed by the Machines.

“All over this record there are flubs and weird notes because it's not like I planned this,” he says. “All the songs just worked themselves out as I went along.”

When O'Donnell heard some of Torbert's demos online, he invited him out to the English countryside to record for his 99X/10 Records.

“We became friends instantly,” Torbert says, a bit star-struck. “He would get up and make me breakfast and then we would record in his little studio with gold records hanging all over the walls.”

While much of the resulting record is full of the dark sounds of conflict and bitterness, it is the one anomaly-a playful, meandering dittie called “Lost in the Zoo”-that carries Swallowed by the Machines away.

“I knew immediately what to name that song,” Torbert says. “I pictured children and this dark feeling of being lost... this innocence that we all have in us, that we disguise sometimes.”

The name Goddamn Electric Bill is an exclamation. But much like Clark Kent, Torbert is conspicuously absent from his own compositions. There are no vocals on Swallowed by the Machines. No flashy guitar parts. No pictures of himself. Anywhere.

“Electronic music is so easy to disappear into,” he says. “It feels much more like me.”

Check out Goddamn Electric Bill at www.goddamn electricbill.com.



 
 
 
 
 
 
Close
Close
Close