This piece is from a 2003 Pioneer Press article
HEAR NOW: The Rex Haberman Band
BY ROB HUBBARD
Background: It sounds like a setup for a superhero's latest adventures.
By day, he's mild-mannered ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Rex
Haberman, performing surgery in the morning and examining a few
patients before meeting with University of Minnesota medical students
to discuss his specialty: ear disorders. But then, at night, he
becomes Rex Haberman, rock musician.
It's more than a double life: This Renaissance man is also a published
novelist, with two medical mysteries on the shelves, and is managing
to edit a medical textbook, as well. However, Haberman's longtime
love of music was lurking in the shadows while his practice and
family grew. When his children became teenagers, he started gravitating
back toward music, writing songs late at night.
"I've been playing since I was young," Haberman said
from his St. Paul office. "But time was short in medical school
and during my residency. Recently, I went back and played some of
the songs I wrote years ago, recording a few and sending them to
OarFin Records (a small Minneapolis label). Soon, Matt Kirkwold
called me and said, 'I like this. Let's do an album.' I had 30 songs,
and we picked 10 of them to put on the album."
The result was last year's "Hiding Inside," released
on Reissner Records, a collaborative label put together by Haberman
and OarFin head Bob Pickering. ("Reissner is a membrane in
the inner ear," Haberman said.) To the 20 remaining songs,
Haberman added 20 more, and, out of the pool of 40, went about recording
a second album. That's when former Tina & the B-Sides member
Patrik Tanner came on board as producer and arranger for what would
become "Monte Rio." Among the musicians enlisted for Haberman's
latest effort were guitarist Dan Neale (of Martin Zellar & the
Hardways), Honeydogs drummer Noah Levy and Matt Fink, former keyboardist
for Prince & the Revolution Concept: "While many of my
songs are inspired by real events, they're not necessarily personal
experiences," Haberman said. "I hope each song is a little
story people can relate to on some level."
His characters spin their tales while backed by styles ranging
from bouncy melodic pop and twangy Americana to layers of electrified
rock reminiscent of a couple of Haberman's favorite bands, Lynyrd
Skynyrd and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
When performing live, Haberman and his band like to mix in some
acoustic songs with the rockers. Easier on the ears, perhaps? "The
players in my band are pretty well-educated about protecting their
ears," the doctor said. "We try not to play overly loud.
In my practice, we do see a lot of musicians. And we advise that
they use musicians' plugs, which we customize to people's ears.
Everyone's ears are different. If you have a genetic predisposition
to hearing loss, you have to be doubly careful."
Recordings: "Hiding Inside"
(Reissner Records, 2002) and "Monte Rio" (Reissner, 2003).
Review: With "Monte Rio,"
Haberman and Tanner have concocted a tasty collection of guitar
pop that wears its British influences on its frilled sleeve. The
Beatlesque dreamscape, "Allusions"; the Manchester crunch
of "Greed"; the heavy hooks that vary in hue from Deep
Purple to British blues: All point to Haberman's retro sensibilities.
Even his vocals, which bear a slacker aloofness that belies his
emotional words, have a hint of English inflection. While his lyrics
lean upon direct storytelling that's long on facts and short on
metaphor, it's the engaging arrangements that make the strongest
impression. Whether layering on the guitars, Skynyrd-style, on "Rock
Hard Heartbreak" or popping things up on "What Others
Have Said," it's a slick effort with writing approaching the
level of its production values.