Rick Froberg, the singer and guitarist for influential math rockers Drive Like Jehu died in San Diego July 1. He was 55.
Drive Like Jehu signed to major label Interscope in the early 90s, helping to bring the challenging and often inscrutable labyrinth that is math rock to the masses and helping to drive the progression of emo from its purely hardcore roots.
The band released just two studio albums on Interscope — their self-titled debut in 1991 and Yank Crime three years later.
The limited output has an outsize influence with nearly every band in emo’s second wave citing Drive Like Jehu as a major influence. Pointedly, Jehu’s drummer Mark Trombino went on to produce, engineer and mix a cavalcade of emo and pop-punk albums. But that influence also stretches beyond the borders of emo, with hearable impact in other indie cuisines, Jehu’s mix of twinkle and fuzz apparent in efforts from Modest Mouse and American Football, the latter of which is perhaps the best sonic synthesis of the Jehu dialectic.
Froberg himself helped craft an entire generation of a genre with his emotion-filled vocals, fuzzy and noisy guitars and hooky tunes. His music career predated Jehu, starting with the band Pitchfork , formed with long-time collaborator John Reis. After Jehu’s 1995 demise, Froberg formed Hot Snakes and Obits.
“His art made life better,” Reis wrote on Instagram. “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.”