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The Honor system

With major-label backing, The Honorary Title is upping the ante and the volume

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Because the guy in the back threw a hissy fit, the - photographer decided to give The Honorary Title an - honorary break from the tiring photo shoot.
  • Because the guy in the back threw a hissy fit, the photographer decided to give The Honorary Title an honorary break from the tiring photo shoot.

At first, Jarrod Gorbel, lead singer of The Honorary Title, worried that his band made a terrible decision in trying to change its sound.

In fact, he says, he "freaked out" right there in the studio, among his bandmates, as the new sound was being recorded.

To be fair, Gorbel had his reasons: Gone was the quieter stuff that carried 2004's Anything Else but the Truth. And in its place came the big rock hooks and solid pop sounds that abound on Scream and Light Up the Sky, due for release in August on Reprise Records.

It was a lot to swallow.

"I thought, "What the fuck? This sounds like a big summer movie hit,'" Gorbel says. "But then I [thought], "That's cool,' because we also have some songs that sound a lot different."

Still, Gorbel feared these changes might take away some of the "intimacy" his Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band had created in its debut even if the alterations made sense for the emerging act to make.

"We kind of built our sound up live for a few years," Gorbel says. "Slowly and gradually."

In the three-plus years and two record labels between the release of the band's debut and its upcoming sophomore album, The Honorary Title has gone through something of a growth spurt, adding guitarist Jonathan Wiley and drummer Adam Boyd to the band lineup, which included Gorbel and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Kamstra.

The new sound reflects this expansion: Now there's more muscle behind the confessional lyrics that first grabbed listeners' attention.

"We did the bigger production thing because a lot of the songs are bigger-sounding," Gorbel says. "But they still have the intimacy lyrically. Some of the songwriting isn't that far off from the first record."

Now, Gorbel says he welcomes the fuller sound; he knows there's a chance for a larger audience with it. And that's something he approaches with a great deal of humility.

"Our fan base crept up on us very slowly," he says. "To us, a good headlining show is like 500 people, so [the potential of a larger audience] is a whole different kind of world. There isn't that much pretense."

But with the band's major-label debut on the way and some major-label expectations coming with it Gorbel doesn't seem too worried about playing corporate politics with his music.

"We're already dealing with their politics," he says. "If this album had been on [an] indie label, it would have been out already. But, at the same time, we're going to have way better distribution, and we're going to be able to go on tour without starving."

For now, though, it's the audiences who are feasting. Scream and Light Up the Sky is a big pop album with big, sugary sweet, rot-your-teeth-out-the-morning-after-Halloween hooks. Imagine if you will, a Journey for the black-eyeliner-and-tight-jeans scene, and you're probably close to the pop fury that is The Honorary Title.

As for the future, well, Gorbel's not about to freak out. Actually, he's surprisingly optimistic about it.

"I'm happy to be along for the ride," he says. "I don't want it to end. I want to do it all."

The Honorary Title with Minus the Bear and Chin Up Chin Up

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Thursday, May 10, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $13 in advance, $15 day of the show, all ages; call 866/468-7621 or visit ticketweb.com.

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