For his sound to evolve, singer Rob Drabkin had to split from science

After growing up in Denver, Rob Drabkin went to Trinity University in San Antonio to major in biochemistry and molecular biology. But a few weeks before graduation, he says, something snapped in him while watching the Broadway musical Chicago. His mind drifted, and while daydreaming, he realized he would have no voice in science. He was pretty good at it, but he found no expression in it. He'd been playing music on the side, and he ultimately decided to drop the whole science thing and focus solely on his music. Since then, he's released a full-length and several EPs, including the brand new six-song Little Steps. We spoke with the singer-songwriter about the new EP and about his second full-length album, which he plans to release in April.

Westword: Tell me about your full-length that's coming out in April.

Rob Drabkin: The story behind the existence of this EP: We started recording around, I guess, a little less than a year ago, and I had about nine, ten tunes I wanted to get on, and they just weren't all ready. This is the oddest truthful story; it was a hard project to get completed. I always have this birthday January show, and I can't really mess with the timing of that. So early on, I was like, "Yeah! A CD-release show. It's going to be on." Then it came down to about two months before, and it was like, "Well, I've got to have copies of something at the show, or do I postpone the show and ruin this whole tradition I've got going on?" So that's why the EP happened. Literally, I just made about 150 copies. We sold about a hundred at our show, and I sent the other fifty out to folks around the area, and now I'm all out of copies.

How would you say your sound has evolved over the years?

The first thing that I notice is that my voice is a lot stronger. It's a weird thing. I go back and listen these early recordings I did, and that was another kind of saga.... I never started singing until probably about seven or eight years ago. I never sang until I was about 22 years old, and I'm 30 now. I go back and listen to these recordings, and it's clear that it's a very evolving voice that's stronger now. I go back, and I hear little cracks, and it's really pitchy in places. At the time, when I was recording some of the first EP studio stuff, it was like, "Yeah, listen to me sing," and then you go back and you're like, "Oh, my God, it's awful." That's the main thing that I noticed. I could go back and play little segments of my voice. That's a big thing that's evolved.

I think the songs are better. I don't mind these songs. I like these songs. I have a few songs that have funny time signatures and really funny rhythms in there, and there's still some of that there. But there's also some really easy, like four-on-the-floor, stuff. Just stuff you can nod your head easily to. People dance to it more easily. I love playing all the weird 7/8 stuff, but one thing I notice, I look out in the crowd and I'm like the only one dancing. We're all up there having a great time jamming away, and then in the crowd one or two people have got the rhythm...but there's more of that easy-to-follow rhythm.

 
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