Obol is a rock band from Seattle, Washington. The group was founded by singer, bassist and keyboardist Barry Craig and drummer Derek Butcher. Although the two musicians had been friends for years, they had always been in different projects. Barry often lamented to Derek how his songs were deemed “too weird” or “too pretty” for the metal bands he was in.
Finally, in 2006, after Barry returned home from a tour with The Witching Hour, Derek encouraged Barry to sit down and record the growing list of “too weird” song ideas that he had written.
After releasing several singles via social media, the band released their first studio album, Revoluçión, in 2013, with guitarist Joey Stanker, keyboardist Joe Wasson, and percussionist Josh Zampino. Musically, the songs were equal parts technical, zany, and aggressive. “There is usually a beautiful part in every Obol song,” Barry notes, “but Revoluçión, as a whole, feels nutty and off-kilter.” Lyrically, Revoluçión tells the story of an affluent young man as he ventures out into the world, his overconfidence and naivety gradually leading him down a path of religious zealotry and murder.
In May 2019, Obol released Dreaming. Dreaming features eleven new tracks telling the story of a patient undergoing tests to diagnose what is killing him. As he fades in and out of consciousness, each song reveals a different past trauma or potential cause of his illness. Themes of estrangement and abuse, crises of faith, and sleep paralysis percolate to the surface. Obol vocalist Barry Craig describes the album as “darker, more melodic and haunting” than 2013’s comparatively upbeat Revoluçión. Dreaming features guitars by Jun Mantrano, plus drums from Will Tooker and long-time collaborator Jeremy Maher.
In spring of 2020, the band was deciding which songs to put on their third album, a more energizing, fast-paced and crunchy affair entitled Quizshow. Reception to the new songs was phenomenal, and Obol found themselves playing live shows more and more frequently. The onset of the COVID virus put a stop to playing live and the band had to find new ways to collaborate, so they shared files digitally, and built the album piece by piece in their home studios. In the summer of 2020, amid increasing frustration due to COVID-related delays and recording set backs, Will Tooker decided to step out of the band. In August 2020, Rob Sones, a long time collaborator and friend of the band, officially became Obol’s new drummer.
Obol describes its sound as dark progressive rock, but encompasses a wide array of pop and mainstream influences including Muse, Placebo, Devin Townsend, Marillion, Leprous, and A Perfect Circle. In his online bio, Barry mentions that he wants the Obol songs to be “just dreamlike enough to create visual images for the listener, but otherwise sound deceptively simple, accessible … and full of memorable hooks.”