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RIP Rick Froberg: Pitchfork co-founder was 55

The sound of Obits, Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes

Rick Froberg: “The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends.”
Rick Froberg: “The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends.”

Singer-guitarist Rick Froberg “passed away suddenly last night [June 30] from natural causes,” posted longtime bandmate John Reis, who also said “His art made life better.”

“The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends. He will forever be remembered for his creativity, vision and his ability to bring beauty into this world. I love you, Rick. I will miss you for the rest of my life.”

Froberg (who would sometimes use the stage name Rick Farr or Rick Fork) formed Pitchfork with Reis while the two of them were teens. Reis went on to Rocket From the Crypt, while continuing to collaborate with Froberg in Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes.

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“[John was a] cool guy with cool friends," Froberg told The Reader in 2013. "Had a band. [We met at] Mariner’s Point Anarchy Picnic, 1986. I think we both liked RKL and Mystic releases — Don’t No, Dr. Know, Rat Pack, Manifest Destiny. But I turned him on to Blood Lake. John taught me to dress well.”

After Pitchfork's demise in 1990, Froberg and Reis were joined by Mike Kennedy on bass and Mark Trombino on drums to form Drive Like Jehu. The band shared musical similarities with Pitchfork but also exhibited significant changes: Froberg would now play guitar as well as sing, adding a second guitar to Reis's lead. Kennedy and Trombino also brought with them a progressive rock influence from their previous band Night Soil Man. Trombino developed his studio skills by acting as producer and engineer for most of Drive Like Jehu's recordings, while Froberg created artwork for their albums and merchandise.

Froberg and Reis also teamed up for Hot Snakes, who were active from 1999 to 2005. After around twenty years as a San Diegan, including a stint with the band Thingy, Froberg relocated to Brooklyn, New York City, and cofounded Obits in 2006 with former Edsel guitarist Sorab Habibion, from Washington, D.C. Talking to The Reader from NYC, he recalled his stint in the local music scene as “just a handful of people. It was cheap to live there, near the beach. It was quiet, easy to be alone. Incestuous. Since I’ve come and gone a few times it’s gentrified, and though I’ve seen weird kids around, I haven’t made any attempt to find out what they’re doing. My impressions of the city haven’t changed much. Things are shittier there like they are everywhere, but it’s the same. It has a lot to do with the climate.”

Hot Snakes were playing reunion shows in 2010 through 2013, with their tune “This Mystic Decade” heard on the soundtrack of the Grand Theft Auto V video game, released in Autumn 2013. Froberg and Reis reunited Drive Like Jehu for a free all-ages performance at Spreckels Organ Pavilion on August 31, 2014, where resident organist Carol Williams opened with a solo set as well as playing with the band.

An unannounced Hot Snakes reunion performance took place January 30, 2017, at Bar Pink. Within a few weeks, Reis and friends were recording tracks at Singing Serpent studio for their first new album since 2004. In August 2017, they signed to Sub Pop Records and announced plans to release a new album and tour. In January 2018, Sub Pop reissued three Hot Snakes albums on colored vinyl and cassette, and another short tour was mounted that March. Their next album Jericho Sirens was preceded by a single for “Six Wave Hold-Down.”

Froberg was also a visual artist and illustrator who designed album artwork for his own projects, as well as for Rocket from the Crypt, Sparta, and others. Asked how his career as a visual artist influenced his approach to music, he noted “It has taught me that two parallel failures do not one success make.” Of course "failure" is in the eye of the beholder.

Last year, South Park's Trash Lamb Gallery hosted Froberg for Let My People Go: Art and Illustration 1988 to Present. The exhibition directly evolved from posters he made for the San Diego underground scene of the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, of which he was such an integral part.

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Rick Froberg: “The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends.”
Rick Froberg: “The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends.”

Singer-guitarist Rick Froberg “passed away suddenly last night [June 30] from natural causes,” posted longtime bandmate John Reis, who also said “His art made life better.”

“The only thing he loved more than art and rock and roll was his friends. He will forever be remembered for his creativity, vision and his ability to bring beauty into this world. I love you, Rick. I will miss you for the rest of my life.”

Froberg (who would sometimes use the stage name Rick Farr or Rick Fork) formed Pitchfork with Reis while the two of them were teens. Reis went on to Rocket From the Crypt, while continuing to collaborate with Froberg in Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and Hot Snakes.

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“[John was a] cool guy with cool friends," Froberg told The Reader in 2013. "Had a band. [We met at] Mariner’s Point Anarchy Picnic, 1986. I think we both liked RKL and Mystic releases — Don’t No, Dr. Know, Rat Pack, Manifest Destiny. But I turned him on to Blood Lake. John taught me to dress well.”

After Pitchfork's demise in 1990, Froberg and Reis were joined by Mike Kennedy on bass and Mark Trombino on drums to form Drive Like Jehu. The band shared musical similarities with Pitchfork but also exhibited significant changes: Froberg would now play guitar as well as sing, adding a second guitar to Reis's lead. Kennedy and Trombino also brought with them a progressive rock influence from their previous band Night Soil Man. Trombino developed his studio skills by acting as producer and engineer for most of Drive Like Jehu's recordings, while Froberg created artwork for their albums and merchandise.

Froberg and Reis also teamed up for Hot Snakes, who were active from 1999 to 2005. After around twenty years as a San Diegan, including a stint with the band Thingy, Froberg relocated to Brooklyn, New York City, and cofounded Obits in 2006 with former Edsel guitarist Sorab Habibion, from Washington, D.C. Talking to The Reader from NYC, he recalled his stint in the local music scene as “just a handful of people. It was cheap to live there, near the beach. It was quiet, easy to be alone. Incestuous. Since I’ve come and gone a few times it’s gentrified, and though I’ve seen weird kids around, I haven’t made any attempt to find out what they’re doing. My impressions of the city haven’t changed much. Things are shittier there like they are everywhere, but it’s the same. It has a lot to do with the climate.”

Hot Snakes were playing reunion shows in 2010 through 2013, with their tune “This Mystic Decade” heard on the soundtrack of the Grand Theft Auto V video game, released in Autumn 2013. Froberg and Reis reunited Drive Like Jehu for a free all-ages performance at Spreckels Organ Pavilion on August 31, 2014, where resident organist Carol Williams opened with a solo set as well as playing with the band.

An unannounced Hot Snakes reunion performance took place January 30, 2017, at Bar Pink. Within a few weeks, Reis and friends were recording tracks at Singing Serpent studio for their first new album since 2004. In August 2017, they signed to Sub Pop Records and announced plans to release a new album and tour. In January 2018, Sub Pop reissued three Hot Snakes albums on colored vinyl and cassette, and another short tour was mounted that March. Their next album Jericho Sirens was preceded by a single for “Six Wave Hold-Down.”

Froberg was also a visual artist and illustrator who designed album artwork for his own projects, as well as for Rocket from the Crypt, Sparta, and others. Asked how his career as a visual artist influenced his approach to music, he noted “It has taught me that two parallel failures do not one success make.” Of course "failure" is in the eye of the beholder.

Last year, South Park's Trash Lamb Gallery hosted Froberg for Let My People Go: Art and Illustration 1988 to Present. The exhibition directly evolved from posters he made for the San Diego underground scene of the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, of which he was such an integral part.

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