WORDS : TOM COLES
“Our first EP, Bloom dealt with plants and food and science and Cold dealt with animals and agriculture and this one Close is the final part of the trilogy, a mini-album this time but it’s all about us as people and the human condition, specifically myself and what I went through growing up. It’s called Close to reiterate the point. We have closed the door on this trilogy of musical themes. 90 minutes in total. Plant. Animal. Man,”says Paul Waller, pontificating on their latest mini-album, a change indirection for a constantly evolving band. OHHMS‘ thick psych sound is dense and mercurial, and here they’ve moved away from longer songs.
“It’s an intentional shift for sure. I think on our last album, Exist , I felt we perfected the long song format on our track ‘Subjects’. We can’t do better than that. I’ve no inclination to even visit that territory again. For the doomy slow build to a massive finale style we had done that back in 2015 with ‘The Anchor’ and for the longer proggy stuff we did it with ‘Subjects’. Everything I love from those styles is contained within those two tracks. It’s done. And we did it exactly how I dreamed we might. I don’t want to replicate those choices again.”
We will all adapt, because we will have to. If we don’t we will die, literally
Close certainly feels more vital; it’s more to the point, a little more cutting than their previous efforts; a little angrier. Does this tackle the same topics of animal abuse?
“We dabbled a bit with animal rights on the Cold EP and went head first, full on for the Exist album but not a peep on this one. When I write lyrics I have to be fully committed and it’s a dark space when I’m writing about animal abuse, it’s heartbreaking to sing those songs night after night. I love the end product, don’t get me wrong, it’s a horribly engaging and forthright piece of art but I need a break from that. Why the lyrical themes went from animal abuse to domestic abuse is quite bleakly funny though, I guess I just write about what I know.”
We are obsessed with creating the best art possible
Just as it breaches new ground for them musically, they’ve moved into new territory lyrically, a particular new avenue for them being religion and spirituality:”I am obsessed with religion and as an atheist I find it completely fascinating. From the tales of The Brethren Of The Free Spirit in the 13th Century to Trump awkwardly holding a bible after forcibly moving peaceful protesters during the current Black Lives Matter movement. At the very minimum religion is a fascinating subject.”
Like so many bands, Ohhms are in the netherworld of having a release ready to go and being stuck unable to do shows to support it, unsure when to book tours for when they emerge. Paul’s work as an artist manager for Incendia Music gives him some practical insight on how to prepare for the new world post-quarantine:”All the bands I work with are going to struggle unless they already had music ready to go. With no live shows happening it’s a killer to their income and also to keep their mental drive in check. With nothing to focus on it’s difficult to maintain purpose.I personally have been attempting to watch every horror movie ever made. I’m doing alright so far. It’s the perfect escape for me.”
There is no telling what the future will bring, of course; the restrictions will surely hit bands like OHHMS. But Waller is sure that change will being better, brighter times:”I am still furious that vinyl is not any longer the main way in which we all listen to music. I still haven’t got over that. I hate change. But I am adept at adapting, it’s one of the reasons why I love band management. It comes easy to me. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though. We will all adapt, because we will have to. If we don’t we will die, literally.”
There is a lot to worry about, but it’s not such a terrible time to be in a band. OHHMS’ fan base grows steadily every year, and even with live shows on hold for the foreseeable there are brighter times on the horizon. Just as it breaches new ground for them musically, they’ve moved into new territory lyrically, a particular new avenue for them being religion and spirituality.
“The second we are allowed back into a practice room we are writing and then recording our next and who knows, maybe final album. We have a tentative date to play a London launch show in January of all fucking things for the Close album plus a tour of France if Brexit doesnt mess that up for us. The usual. We are obsessed with creating the best art possible.”