Oids made a mark on their hometown of Cincinnati earlier this year with their 8 track mini LP Zonked!, a heady yet visceral exploration into the wilder side of 80’s revival post-pop. Obvious XTC, Oingo Boingo and The Cars influences come through on a dizzying and relentless tracklisting, pushing sonic experimentation to the limit. We sat down with them to discuss motivation, the struggles of creativity and what’s next for the band, read the interview below.
1. You guys just released your first full length on June 12th called Zonked!. The peachy keen 8 track record is a rebirth in my opinion of experimental and new wave music. Who were some big influences during the writting of this album?
We all had a deep appreciation for early new wave bands like XTC, Oingo Boingo, Devo, etc. and wanted to write something that felt like it could mesh with that kinda sound.
2. Being from Ohio, could you tell me a littlte bit about what the music scene is like there in the city that you live in?
Cincinnati is a special place for music and it’s 100% because of some truly amazing people. There are so many folks in this town that have made it their personal mission to better the music scene by booking with an emphasis on diversity. I know people who book 1-3 shows a week for no money just to help touring bands get a place to play and a place to crash. It’s an honor to call Cincinnati home when you are surrounded by individuals like that. Of course there are bad people everywhere you go, but the musicians here protect each other and help each other with everything.
3. When did you decide to pick up the instrument you are currently playing? If you could switch to any other instrument which would you choose and why?
I’ve been playing guitar for 15 years, Chase has been playing drums for 16 years, Cousin Nathan has been playing sax for 20 years and Dylan has been playing bass for 12 years. I got my first synthesizer about 10 years ago (a late seventies Micromoog) and used it mostly as a writing tool for bass lines and drippy sample-and-hold farting noises (this synth is still the KING of that kinda thing). When we decided to start this band, Dylan and I shifted our focus to writing more synth parts and buying as many synths as we could while still being able to eat (we have since learned that food comes second to synthesizers, of course). But anyway, to answer the question, I’d say we did “switch” from bass/guitar to synth. Also, though Cousin Nathan is our resident live keyboard player, that is not his primary instrument; his saxophone is like an appendage to his body. The dude is basically one big saxophone.
4. How do you balance your music with your other daily obligations?
It’s hard, but that’s the oldest story in the book. We all have jobs and lives outside of the band, but we make time for it because it’s important to us. Sometimes it’s more difficult to balance than other times (eg. Chase and I are in the middle of moving but still have practice since we’ve got some shows coming up) but you make it work.
5. What was the writing process like for Zonked!? Were there any huge road blocks that you guys ran into?
This is a sensitive matter. As a group, we have always been very critical of ourselves and each other so each of our songs usually takes a long time to complete before we all agree that it’s the best that song can be, but our writing is a somewhat democratic process so you can imagine that some days aren’t as productive as others. Overall though, I think we write better songs together than if one person wrote the whole thing themselves. As for road blocks… that is also a touchy subject. We wanted to get an authentic early new wave sound for this band, so that meant we had to record it in a similar fashion as any of our favorite bands from that era would record it. We tracked to a 16-track tape machine and mixed each song live with outboard compressors, EQs, space echoes (yes, multiple space echoes), reverbs etc. Each mix was printed to a 1/4″ 2-track mastering recorder and those reels were ultimately sent to Josh Bonati in Brooklyn to be mastered straight from the tape. Getting the perfect mix for each song was a performance in itself because we had to do all the panning, automation and effects changes manually together; we usually didn’t get it right until at least the 20th pass. Since everything is all analog and without recall, going back to a song meant starting over every time, which led to some heated discussions. But, again, it was worth it; for example, we had mixed “Wrong Man” and were all satisfied, but towards the end of the whole process after we were all burnt out and exhausted, Dylan was the jerk who decided that song in particular wasn’t good enough. We had a long discussion about it and finally decided we would try a new mix and if it wasn’t good then we’ll just use the old one. That new mix that Dylan insisted on us doing ended up being by far the best version of that song and probably the record.
6. If you could choose 3 albums that best describe you or that influence you the most, what would they be?
Black Sea by XTC, Pom Pom by Ariel Pink and Oh, No! It’s Devo by the Backstreet Boys.
7. What would you say gets you motivated the most to do your writing?
Our collective motivation comes and goes but we’re always writing new parts and seeing what else we can do to keep things exciting and fresh. I draw inspiration in my lyrics from many different sources whether it’s an old sci fi movie, the X-files or a random person I interact with – it feels unpredictable.
8. If you could offer some sort of advice to a musician just starting out, what would you tell them?
Play your instrument and write songs without any care as to whether it’s good or if people will like it. I still get hung up on that, but I find I am at my best when I play for its own sake.
9. Is there anything else you would like people to know, Upcoming shows? other projects, etc?
Yes! We are booking some shows for the fall ’round the midwest and will be recording some more tunes in our off time.