Sunday 19 August 2018

Different Times For OHHMS - An Interview With Paul Waller

UK Prog Rockers OHHMS have had a steady rise to fame and prominence since they released their debut EP – BLOOM – back in 2014. BLOOM showed OHHMS were a band that are hard to define. As the band include elements of Prog, Sludge. Doom, Stoner, Psych and Post-Rock interludes.

They released their debut album – The Fool – to major critical acclaim last year. Never known to take a long break between new records and albums. OHHMS will be releasing their eagerly awaited new album tentatively titled “Exist” later this year in November 2018. However the band experienced a testing time when recording their new album.

With this in mind I interviewed Paul from OHHMS to see where the band currently is and what people can expect from the new album. 

What’s been happening with the band recently? There seems to be a lot of activity especially with the forthcoming tour later this year with Boss Keloid and the new album.

We’ve been working behind the scenes. We’ve never done that before, never taken a period of time off away from Social Media and stuff like that. We’ve taken a few months to bury our heads in a practice room and get our act together. We’d already completed recording the album. However, then what happened was that Daniel wasn’t into the album. He loved his stuff but didn’t love the other guy’s contributions. Thing is the rest of the band were really passionate about all of it as was I.

It caught us off guard. This was the first major problem that OHHMS ever had and we had to make a decision. Daniel has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. It was awful when I did the deed and said - “We think it’s best to move on without you.”

Surprisingly, Daniel said he was almost relieved and that he could concentrate on future stuff. But it was a real awkward time. I won’t lie about it but I think our friendship has survived really well and that’s perhaps down to this Podcast that we recently started together.

So OHHMS is now in full swing without Daniel. It feels really weird but it gave the band the spark it needed to get the album fully recorded and released upon to the world. Also we can play songs that we’ve never played before because his replacement Stuart is a great singer. Proper exciting. I’m raring to go.

Did Daniel leave because the sound of the new album is different to your previous releases and wasn’t happy with the new direction? 

No. There’s always been a push and pull. I thought that what made us so good. Daniel in my opinion and for my taste was the best songwriter in the band and so I thought whoever we replace him with needs to have the same “Classic Rock” leanings that Daniel brought to the band. He was the only person that brought that to the band and I think that allows OHHMS to be that little bit more unique.

So we found Stu, the new guy. He can pull that stuff off with ease but he’s also throwing a lot of other different things in, he has Prog Rock and Post-Rock in his arsenal. So we will see how that will integrate. The other band members bring their own individual talents to the band, none of that has changed. I must admit I was a little bit worried but the other guys are saying it’s going to work out great. We will find out soon enough.

Stu has re-recorded a lot of different stuff that Daniel originally recorded and we’ve even rewrote a whole song and started from scratch with some others. One track on the new album called ‘Shambles’ still features Dan playing; it’s an awesome farewell. But what Stuart has brought to the table just floors me. We really have landed on our feet.

When is the album being released? 

This album is being released November 2018 via Holy Roar Records and we are dong a tour with Boss Keloid in October. We are also doing two dates in November and those two dates coincide with the release of the album.

I can’t wait to get back on the road and play these new songs live.

Wait till you see what we have planned for the next album.

I’m surprised you said “next album” and this upcoming album. Does that mean you have the next album in place. Or plans in place? 

I think so. The thing is this album wasn’t meant to exist. The original plan was to release ‘The Fool’ and then we start recording next year for a 2020 release, which was going to be the next record. However, I got all my “poetry” altogether, all my notes which are about Animal Rights and Animal Conservation and things like that.

I didn’t want to wait. Sometimes with something that you’re truly passionate about, you have to do it right there and then. So we did it. We put all the money that we made off of ‘The Fool’ into the studio. We knocked it out right away. Chainy had been writing a massive song for several years before we started OHHMS. It was a song that Daniel particularly hated just because it was so long and complex. Before my vocals went on this song, even we didn’t know if it made sense. But it really does, it’s perfect.

Normally with our long songs, it’s a journey that has a beginning, middle and end. I really enjoyed doing stuff like that but last year I got proper bored with. So I asked Chainy could we use that track you did years ago and he said – “Yeah, I’ve finished it.”

We brought that song back into play and that has filled up the whole of side one. It’s 22 minutes and it’s in a style done by bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and Rush but a lot heavier. It’s one song but split into several parts, a suite. We couldn’t be more pompous if we wanted to. The song is about a life-cycle of an animal that’s born into Animal Testing.

I spoke to the guys, oddly with OHHMS we have regular meetings where we discuss the music and I presented them with all this stuff, all the words on paper. I asked could we write and make an album about this. The rest of the band said - “Yeah. Here’s all the music that we’ve done”. We just ran with it.

So we went for it and I’m so glad that we did. It’s weird back in the 60s/70s when bands released 2 or 3 albums a year. I want OHHMS to continue on and try release an album every year. As long as we are this inspired.

You may have noticed that bigger bands have announced their new albums to be released between Oct and Dec. Then they decide to postpone the release to the New Year. Was that ever a plan? Release it in the New Year? Or do you want the album released now? 

Holy Roar Records have had such an insane year. I don’t know if you know of websites such as RateYourMusic and similar brands. Usually you get a Hip-Hop album, a pop album or really weird underground indie rock album being voted top by critics and picking up points normally ending up as “Album Of The Year”.

At the moment Rolo Tomassi are doing it on the critic aggregation and that’s insane. Behind them you have Boss Keloid and Conjurer. It’s mad what’s currently going on over there at our label. I love Holy Roar and I want to be a part of this successful year.

I told Holy Roar that I want the album out this year as I want to start recording the new album next year. So lets get this album out now. They were unsure at first. Their release schedule was full. They are so busy at the moment. I noticed a gap right at the end of the year and I asked could we fill that. Holy Roar said no because there is no contention for when critics will put you in that “End Of Year” list sort of thing and Christmas time is notoriously bad selling time for new music by underground acts. Purely from a record label perspective of course if you get into the Top 50 Albums Of The Year things, that guarantees the band more sales.

There was another final spot in November. So I took that and they agreed. It was a relief.

Holy Roar Records have had a great year with albums this year. Such as Conjurer and Boss Keloid. Which is one of my favourite albums this year. 

It is my favourite album this year, Steve. It’s my number one choice this year so far.

Not many bands release a studio live album that Boss Keloid did earlier this year and still receive praise for the album. Is that why they are going on tour with you on your forthcoming UK Tour. 

I only had one choice with the band that I wanted to support OHHMS on the UK Tour and that was Boss Keloid. I asked them and they said yes. I was thinking – Yes! That was so easy. That’s amazing.

I’m in an envious position seeing Boss Keloid perform every night for 8 nights. That will be fantastic.

Will this be a joint tour or is OHHMS headlining. 

We are headlining but I would hope a ton of tickets are going to be sold because of Boss Keloid’s involvement as well. Our album doesn’t come out until a month after the tour. Our manager thinks were dicks for doing that. As you normally do a tour when the album is already out.

The thing is Boss Keloid haven’t really toured. They’ve done one or two gigs but they haven’t done a proper tour. So this will be people’s first exposure to the new Boss Keloid album. I’m proper excited, as I’m a proper fanboy.

Away from OHHMS, you’ve just started a Podcast called Different Times with Daniel. What is the podcast about and how did it come together. 

Yeah, Different Times Podcast. I was heartbroken with the whole issue with Daniel when he left OHHMS. He’s my best friend and it’s been like that for years. This is more than friendship. He’s more like a brother and within a week I was missing him. Within a couple of weeks we were talking again and a week after that we were planning this podcast.

You know the Podcast- That’s Not Metal, one of the biggest music podcasts. They put the feelers out by asking people to get involved. So we put together this pilot that we never sent where I love interviewing bands and Daniel loves talking “SHIT” about bands. It seemed like a perfect thing. It didn’t work out with That’s not Metal though when they changed their format. However we were left with this pilot and we asked ourselves – “Did We Want To Continue”?

And we did want to continue.

We are having real fun with this. All it’s about is looking at old Rock and Metal magazines. I love to put POP stuff in there as well just to wind Daniel up. We talk about the articles that were published at the time. It’s really weird and odd looking back at these magazines and articles. There is so much filler in those old magazines compared to the new ones.

The filler was so trite and mind-boggling at the time. It’s like from 1985 and up to the early 90s it was so sexist and casually racist and then Grunge arrived and changed attitudes. We just love reading the magazines and talking shit about them.

The great end to that story is that Daniel and myself are stronger friends that we have been for years. So I’m really thankful for that.

Where did you get these old magazines from? Do you have an old collection of magazines? Or do you buy stuff from Charity Shops or eBay? 

I have tons of magazines from my youth. The golden egg is KERRANG No 1. I’ve got it but I can’t bloody find it. I’ve got a spare room that’s full of tapes, old CD’s and magazines. I don’t want to go through all that stuff though as it will take forever.

Daniel is a bit different. When he wants something he goes on eBay. He’s on eBay all the time looking at different magazines. So that helps with the Podcast as well.

What else do you do on the Different Times Podcast.

We like to delve into music that I don’t know or Daniel doesn’t know or that we both don’t know. I love Daniel’s reaction when I dare to talk about Indie Rock. He’s so immature and he acts like a kid. I find that hilarious to do.

For something different we just recently did an episode on Cancer Bats. Where we discovered that Cancer Bats new album was released on 20th April 2018, which was when SLEEP released their new album – THE SCIENCES. It got buried underneath the SLEEP hype and I didn’t listen to the new Cancer Bats until a few months later.

It was such a mistake to make releasing an album the same day as SLEEP. HA HA.

Well Paul, thanks for doing this interview. Can’t wait to hear the album. Best of luck with everything. New album, forthcoming UK tour and the Different Times Podcast. 

Anytime my friend. Thanks again. Catch you later.

Words by Steve Howe and Paul Waller. 

Thanks to Paul for doing this interview. Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for arranging this interview.

OHHMS Links:

Facebook | BandCamp

Different Times Podcast Links: