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Interview: Ohana

Ohana
Photo by Big Dav

Ohana are a four piece post-hardcore / math rock band from Thirroul, Wollongong. They've just completed recording their second album at Head Gap studios in Melbourne and are about to play a bunch of dates up and down the East Coast to support a split 7". We were lucky enough to catch up for a quick email interview with singer and guitarist Will Farrier.

I heard or maybe read somewhere that your debut album was recorded live. Are you taking the same approach for your sophomore record?

We recorded the album a couple of weeks ago and to a degree we took the same approach - playing the instrumental parts of the songs live was the main priority. We want a good representation of what we are like as a live band on our records, but being as strict as we were last time isn't necessarily the best way to go about it. Because everyone is so scared of fucking up and forcing the others to go over their good takes again, everyone ends up playing really clean - overly conscious of perfection - and you start to loose feel which is what I value most about a live band. So this time we said that if it wasn't going right we'd be open to a few overdubs here and there. That took the pressure off and we only ended up having to fix one note. In a couple of songs we got to the guitar break and screwed it, so we took a breath and were dropped back in.

Weak Wrists was released last May. How does it feel looking back on it after a year has passed?

It's actually been longer, because we were selling Weak Wrists since September 06, so by the time it was properly released we were already getting over it to a degree. It served us well as a document of much of what we had done until that point, and a few people still like it which is great, but this next album is the first time we've sat down and specifically written a group of songs for a release, so obviously we're happier with this one than the last.

Your new songs seem to have bridled the aggression present on Weak Wrists; live you appear to have complete control over every sound produced. How do you manage to sustain your energy without collapsing? Kino's kit seems to take a beating and a half.

Only play very short sets! I don't know about complete control, but there is a focus on writing more simple but more effective stuff, and playing it well live rather than struggling to get through a song.

Ohana
Photo by Ben Butcher

Two things that consistently are present at an Ohana gigs are volume and puzzled expressions. People are genuinely surprised at the range of tones you squeeze out of your instruments. Was there any point where the four of you sat down and said: "Okay, let's try and develop our own sound."

We talk about the overall direction of Ohana a lot. Everything is quite closely analysed to try and find a different direction to take ideas in. Right now we're taking the new recording apart and seeing what ideas can be explored further for the next release.

Your songs are so organic and meticulous... how do you go about songwriting? Does it all come from jamming?

Writing is becoming more and more of a rehearsal room thing instead of the guitarist-in-the-bedroom thing that it used to be. Someone will have a minor idea- like a couple of chords- and it will get fleshed out during practice. It's much more of a shared responsibility rather than one person dictating where a song will go. The main thing for us whilst we were writing for this album was to be openly discussing what the function of a particular instrument was in a certain song, rather than going in with a chord progression and letting everyone doodle over the top of it. We listen to so much music from three-piece bands that there's a lot of thought about how to play music with another guitar part that isn't there just for the sake of it.

Any plans for the near future apart from recording and touring?

The main thing we have to do now is organise the release of this record. We've decided to give it a go of putting it out ourselves- possibly just initially, possibly for the long run - so we have a lot of work to do in terms of readying the distribution and promotion. Barcodes, spreadsheets, press bios, teeing up interviews - all that 'work' stuff that becomes rewarding once it's all rolling along nicely.

The DIY scene seems to be getting a lot of attention recently, gathering interest pretty quickly. Do you have any fears that it could turn into the "new" thing?

If people are getting involved that's great because the more people taking an independent attitude the easier it becomes for everyone. There's nothing to worry about mostly because taking care of the bits outside your music is hard work and not the kind of thing which can be successfully emulated without actually doing it! It's always going to be fun to go to a warehouse/gallery show. It's always going to be rewarding to book a tour yourself and get out of town and make some new friends.

Do you have a favourite record or gig of this year so far?

So far for a show it would be Live and Let DIY in Brissy at the start of the year. Heaps of bands that we've met through Ohana were playing: The Thaw, Drowned Out, Majorca, To The North, all that gang. Everyone played really inspiring sets. The Thaw had to do an encore, it was Drowned Out's last show, Majorca were more intense than ever, To The North had a tripped out hippy guy dancing and zoning out behind the drum kit while they played, one of the last times I saw Eucalypt. Good food too. Just a really fun weekend wearing shorts.

Favourite piece of equipment you keep coming back to?

Kino got a new Ludwig snare just in time for recording. He ordered it from the States and it only just arrived before we left for the studio in Melbourne. It was a big relief because his old snare wasn't cutting it on tape and the new one worked a treat - it's pretty integral to the overall sound that we captured... and then whilst we were mixing we were thinking, "Oh shit! Imagine if it hadn't come on time!" It was just meant to be. Thank you snare.

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Comments

monachilada

Rad review Ivan. Looking forward to hearing this new stuff!

1 decade ago

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