Straight Out Of High School, Emo Band The Obsessives Plots A Debut Album

By Robert Winship

The Obsessives is an emo band, but it's not extremely emo.
The Obsessives is an emo band, but it's not extremely emo.

The members of nth-wave emo band The Obsessives are fresh out of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and already zealous songwriters. But 18-year-old best friends Nick Bairatchnyi and Jackson Mansfield are not strictly beholden to emo’s lovelorn navel-gazing.

“I would always get mildly offended when people would assume all our songs were about girls,” says Bairatchnyi, who sings in the D.C.-based duo. He says he rarely writes about his own experiences.

The Obsessives have a full-length debut on the way called Heck No, Nancy (out Sept. 18 on Near Mint), but the quickest way to get acquainted with the band’s confessionals is via “Old Mountain Bikes,” a highlight from their 2014 EP Manners.

When they first recorded the track, “we thought people were going to think that it was boring,” says Bairatchnyi. Turns out “that was the song that everyone liked the most.”

With a churning tempo and strong hook, “Old Mountain Bikes” speaks from a girl’s point of view. “I write a lot of songs from the perspective of my younger sister,” says Bairatchnyi. The song’s imagery splits focus between his sister (at the beginning) and his dad (at the end). But when it comes to the tune’s message, Bairatchnyi says that listeners should take their own meaning from it.

“There’s definitely a message there, but I don’t like spelling it out for people too much,” the musician says.

The Obsessives plan to expand their sound on Heck No, Nancy — and true to their name, they’re already writing their next record.

Listen to “Bored,” a track from The Obsessives’ forthcoming LP: