The realization that his band the Orbitsuns has been around for 17 years and is bringing out its fifth studio album gave frontman Vinnie Dombroski pause.
Oddly enough, man, we just keep churning it out and plugging along," says Dombroski, best known as the longtime frontman for and sole original member left in Sponge. He also leads the heavy rock group Crud, in addition to the country-flavored Orbitsuns. "We play a lot of clubs that typically have cover bands, but we seem to get on big with beer-drinking crowds at some of the large festivals, so they keep bringing us back to play, and we love doing it.
"It's taken on a life of its own, I guess -- maybe more than I ever expected."
That longevity certainly weighed a bit on Dombroski as he started coming up with songs for the Orbitsuns' new album, "X's Over Our Eyes." Setting up shop in a newly established office in his St. Clair Shores home -- "A really cool place to work 'cause there's just no distraction," he notes -- Dombroski determinedly, and unapologetically, tried to raise his game this time out, even if there are still plenty of rowdy songs about drinking, carousing and honky-tonking.
"I'm trying to grow up," Dombroski says with a laugh. "The more enduring Orbitsuns songs like 'Haul Ass' and 'Knockin' On The Door' are very simple in they're structure, and people love those songs. But these (new) songs are definitely though tout. I"m not trying to be pretentious or over-think it, but I felt like, 'Man, let's up the bar a little bit, maybe, in regards to the craft of songwriting and try some things that weren't done before with this group."
One of those new things, for Dombroski, was letting producer Tim Patalan take a lead role in helping determine what should be recorded.
"I really stepped back this time," says Dombroski. "I presented 20 songs to Tim; He came over to the house and I played a verse and a chorus of each one and said, 'What hits you?' Tim picked 10 tunes and I was like, 'OK, this is what we're going to do' and walked into the studio and started to record. That was different way of doing it for us."
In addition to the regular Orbitsuns lineup -- guitarist Jackson Smith, bassist Bob Hecker and drummer Jimmy Paluzzi, "X's Over Our Eyes" features guests such as David Black (Seduce, Crud, Star Dancer), keyboardist Chris Codish, singer Tosha Owens and pedal steel player Russ Pahl from Nashville. Some of the songs are autobiographical, Dombroski acknowledges, and most have an edge and Detroit-style flavor that sets it apart from others working in the Americana or Ameripolitan genres.
"That's a cool niche to be in, and there's a lot of bands we play with that are definitely part of that. But it's strange trying to figure out where we fit in," Dombroski says. "We're not quite modern country. We're not singing about dirt roads and I don't have the country twang to my voice, but we still manage to make crowds happy and make crowds dance and make crowds drink, so everything seems to be OK. People think we're believable enough, which I'm happy about."
Friday, Dec. 2. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Sabby's Lounge, 25010 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores.
Admission is free. A 50/50 raffle will benefit the Eastside Teen Outreach.
Call 586-771-5121 or visit orbitsuns.com.
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