Lamont “Bim” Thomas of Obnox. (Photo by Josh Sisk/FTWP)
Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll used to be the stuff of pop culture fantasy, but Obnox frontman Lamont “Bim” Thomas sings about them like they’re a part of everyday life. Because let’s be real — for plenty of ordinary people living in the 21st century, they are.
But Thomas’s lyrics aren’t the only thing helping Obnox stand out from the hordes of garage bands currently loitering around SXSW. We cornered the Cleveland rock singer on the patio of Beerland before his Thursday afternoon gig and asked him about his rapid-fire discography and his desire to compete.
This patio is kinda jammed. Is South by Southwest overwhelming for you?
Naw, I’m not afraid of big gatherings. I grew up next to an amusement park.
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It’s the best park in the country. They’re kicking Walter Disney in the a–. It’s the “Amazement Park,” man. These guys have the most roller coasters of any park, and like, nine out of ten them are fairly thrilling.
So you’re comfortable in these crowds. Do you feel competitive with other bands?
Yeah, I like to cut heads in the old blues tradition, sure. But not like a jock trying to conquer these people. I just want to spread the word. When you go to a concert and you’re young, you want the band to kill. I want to be that band.
How difficult is that with so many great bands here?
Those are usually my friends. The best bands are my friends’ bands. It’s a tribe. It’s love.
I’d say one thing that separates you from so many other groups here is how prolific you are. And [last year's excellent] “Corrupt Free Enterprise” was a double album.
I’m a stay-at-home dad essentially, and now my kid is in kindergarten, so I have time to play guitar at home. And when she’s around, she inspires me. So my mojo has kicked in … I just write these tunes and my man is ready to record them two days later. That’s what’s up… [Other bands] that are simply known for their Internet profile? That s— doesn’t last. I’ve been punching for a long time and I don’t have more time. So I dropped a dozen records in, like, three years.
Another thing that sets you apart is your lyrics.
They’re rooted in real life. Regular language, man! Lyrics aren’t poetry, poems aren’t lyrics and once we understand that, we’ll be able to communicate … When I listen to Curtis Mayfield, I want to be somebody. I want to punch a clock. Or raise an orphan. Or, like, paint a wall or something! You know what I mean. I want to touch people like that. And if I gotta describe how to roll a joint in a song because I’m high as hell and I’m writing a decent riff, then that’s what the f—– song is about.