Okay Urge is a more-than-OK band, with a genre-defying sound that’ll satisfy fans of indie, punk and noise rock. The band’s changing dynamics hold the listener’s attention, but in the end it’s the lyrics that really strike a chord.
“I feel like oftentimes I’ll try to, I don’t know, try to write something that doesn’t come off as super personal, but it always seems to go—to take a turn,” said bassist/vocalist Ilya Arbatman.
The lyrics are not so much personal as they are troublingly relatable for the average adult listener—often speaking to the everyday experiences of settling into adulthood and the sometimes uncomfortable emotions that can accompany reflecting back on what life was like before day-to-day obligations began crowding out childhood dreams.
Arbatman and co-vocalist/synth player Megan Kay both have exceptional voices that combine to give greater emotional breadth and depth to their melancholic lyrics. In the song “Question” from the band’s demo, the pair’s dueling vocals pose question after relentless question: “Did you do it yet? Did you do it? Did you put all that you’ve got into it? Did your dreams come true? Did they obey you? While you were asleep, did they betray you? Do you still make believe that you can make it?”
The genesis for the song was a conversation Arbatman had with Kay’s fiancé about trying to reconcile the dreams of his youth with the realities of adulthood.
“It seemed like for many years it was easy to have these really high expectations and this sense of like there’s an unlimited amount of time to do it,” Arbatman explained. “I guess after a certain age you sort of start to think about, like, ’Now, I’m already at this point, and if I haven’t achieved these super vague, super high expectations, is that ever going to happen?’”
The band members agree that their brand of music falls somewhere under “the umbrella of rock ’n’ roll” but joke that their lyrics let them stake a claim elsewhere.
“Adult contemporary—adult contemporary noise rock,” said guitarist Josh Koberstein.
“That’s weird too, because I feel like those things that are categorized under that, to me, are very often … sort of emotionless,” Arbatman said.
Maybe the bandmates are onto something with their idea of repurposing the adult contemporary classification to fit the realities of adulthood, which often include struggling to make time for personal pursuits and passions.
“I feel like I took that for granted a lot when I was younger, as far as being able to have time for that,” Arbatman said. “That’s another thing that’s, you know, an adult contemporary reality—wanting to do creative stuff but wanting to do it in a way that’s not stressful and in a way that you can have an OK life outside of that.”
“Once you get to this point, a lot of people go in the opposite direction,” Kay said. “What they choose is that they want a nice job, and they want a nice life. And I think that those are really admirable things. … If I were to do that, I just wouldn’t be happy. But when not doing that means that I will always just sort of make a certain amount and not make above that amount, that’s OK. It really is. It’s just kind of like wrestling with those choices. Those are very big choices.”