O'Death's Punk Rock Hootenanny
By Tiffany Razzano
Mixing Americana with the raucous live energy and raw power of punk rock makes Queens' O'Death one of very few truly original acts around.
O'Death formed in 2003; all five band members were students at SUNY Purchase at the time. Bassist Jesse Newman, however, didn't meet the group until about a year later, after they had all moved to New York City. He regularly attended their shows, deciding that he wanted to become a part of it. "I was kind of an arrogant dick about it," he said. "They had a bad bass player, so I went up to them and told them to let me know if they ever needed a bassist." And when they did need one, they let him know. After he auditioned, it came down to him and another musician. "But I already knew all of their songs."
They quickly found a following in New York City, which can be difficult in a city teeming with so many bands. O'Death's quirky mix of cacophonous gothic country and infectious punk rock earned them more fans with each energetic live show.
The band blurs the lines of a variety of genres, making it difficult to box them in. And they like it that way. "There's no set niche for us. In New York City everybody talks about scenes, but we never got that impression," Newman said. "We never pick a certain genre of music to play with. I wouldn't put us in a niche. We're not just a country-ish, punk-ish band. We're a really hard rock band and punk. So what if we have a banjo player and a fiddle player?" What it comes down to, he says, is the group's energy and putting on a good live show. "Everybody is going to have an opinion anyway. We try not to worry about that."
Now, the group has recently finished recording their third album, tentatively titled Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skins. "And it is awesome," Newman said. "We're really excited about it."
These guys have been playing together for five years and it shows on this album, he says. It takes the group's unique sound to the next level. "It's definitely a better developed version of what we do," Newman said. "We've written better songs. There's a more interesting dynamic and tempo changes. We've been playing together longer and we're more comfortable together. And the songs are showing that. It's more powerful."
They're busy shopping the record around to labels, narrowing it down to two, including Vagrant Records. Newman says they hope to make a decision soon, since they plan on touring in the fall in support of the album. The group had released their previous record, Head Home, on a one-shot deal with Ernest Jenning Records.
For more information and upcoming tour dates, go to www.myspace.com/odeath or odeath.net.
Published June 29, 2008
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