Local rockers Oh White Mare are gearing up for a huge week. The three-piece are celebrating the release of their new EP All the Modern Lovers with a launch party at Babushka on Saturday, April 22. Lead single Throw Me A Line showcases a marked development for the group as they expand their signature garage and blues sounds to incorporate a more cinematic soundscape. The EP captures an incisive cross-section of their widescreen vision with violin hooks, soaring backing vocals and curveball guitar cameos. The vocalist and guitarist behind it all, Ross Wood chatted to BRAYDEN EDWARDS about the unexpected factors that came together to make Oh White Mare and this EP come together.
So how and when did Oh White Mare get underway?
“The OWM project began back in 2012, where the idea to create the band was formed over lunches at a Lebanese restaurant in the city. We holed ourselves up in the attic of ex-Easybeat Snowy Fleet for some time, creating what the early incarnation of OWM was about – before hitting the live scene and releasing a debut EP in 2013.”
Who are the members and what do they play? Are there two singers? It sounds like it?
The members are myself, Ross Wood (vox & guitar), Sam Hair (drums) and Brody Loneragan (bass /keys). I am the primary vocalist, but all members in the band contribute the vocals, with Brody especially doing a lot of the harmony work. As a three piece live, having everyone sing really adds a pretty compelling dynamic. OWM did have a line up change in 2015, where earlier recordings featured ex-member Jeremy Bailus. Some of those tracks did feature more of a split lead vocal.
It seems you have broadened the scope of the band’s sound on this new EP. For example the strings in Throw me a line add a new element to the feeling of the song that might not have been present in previous releases. Did you visualise this kind of outcome from the beginning of the recording process or did you just act on some ideas and see where they took you?
The line up changes in 2015 did create somewhat of a new start for OWM, where parts of the initial aesthetic certainly hold true today, but shifted us in a direction where it allowed us to take in some added influences and also build towards sounds which we felt really suited us as musicians. This EP is really a culmination of those ideas we have had in recent times, and did include a choice to add additional elements to the soundscape, outside of the more ‘garage’ overtones some of our earlier work had. The songs on the EP, including Throw me a line did have a fairly defined direction prior to recording (such as that string hook), though certainly working with Andy Lawson at Debaser studios, challenged us to enhance those core ideas during the recording process.
I’ve noticed you’ve posted this song as a bit of a soundtrack on a video of highlights from West Coast’s Grand Final victory in 1992. There is a bit of a ‘soaring’, ‘overcoming the odds’ kind of vibe to the song and maybe I’m a little biased here but it’s actually a joy to watch. Which genius in the band thought of that?
That was the drummer Sam Hair, definitely some lateral thinking! The band are big West Coast fans, and with a little bit of editing, we think the song really matches the emotion and flow of that day – especially overcoming those ‘Vics’ who didn’t want to see the flag go West! We hope everyone enjoys it. The copyright is a bit loose…..but who knows, maybe the AFL and West Coast might like it.
You’ve cited the likes of Jack White, QOTSA and Alex Turner as major influences in your sound however I feel this was more evident in your previous recordings than your new EP. The influences are still there but it seems you’ve developed something that’s more your own on this release. I personally get a bit of a War on Drugs, Arcade Fire Reflektor vibe from it?
That’s a pretty good call, certainly our newer songs are a little less heavy on that Jack White garage sound, and certainly we cite Alex Turner and Josh Homme as two artists we admire. For Homme in particular, that mysterious desert sound he has going on is really cool. I guess we draw influence from a variety of areas and ultimately is placed in the mix of what we as a group are naturally like as musicians. What then comes out we’d like to think is organic and representative of OWM, and hopefully this EP helps further define what we are as a band. You could certainly draw comparison of Throw me a line to a War on Drugs style tune, a little bit on steroids perhaps, capturing some of the things that makes them tick. Having an expanded melodic element is something we were cognisant of on this EP and think it’s helped progress the quality of our songs.
You still managed to display some good Josh Homme style guitar pieces throughout though. I enjoy the preference of the more unhinged and adventurous approach taken at times as opposed to a traditional guitar solo, particularly on All the Modern Lovers. Is this kind of thing planned or do you leave a little bit to the imagination on each occasion you play the songs?
I think this comes down more to the style of how I play the guitar as opposed to too much planning. The term unhinged is probably a pretty good one, where the idea is not to have a formal solo, and that style of playing is not natural to me anyways. The guitar lick or slightly messy vibe that sits in with the rest of the track, and used sparingly in the right place seems to work for us. What was thought out, was searching for the right guitar sounds and pedal selection to create that right vibe. Andy was great in helping us form that in the studio.
How did you go about recording this EP? Did you do anything different than you had previously and if so were you happy with a new approach?
The recording process it’s self wasn’t necessarily revolutionised for us, but there were a couple of factors which helped us with the result that we are really proud of. We had a little more time than perhaps in the past (in the studio), thus could really have a greater focus on getting the soundscapes right – to complement having the correct parts and dynamics. We also put a good amount of work into the preparation and with this set of songs, and did have a clear direction of what we wanted the end result to be – as opposed to having a song and letting it ride a little bit in the studio with what the final outcome would be.
Your EP launch gig is this coming Saturday at Babushka. What supporting acts have you bought along for the ride and what kind of night can people expect?
It’s going to be a really fun night with lots going on. Got a great set of bands in support being The Caballeros, Foxton Kings and Jay-Wol Johnson & the Humble Bees. Those who have seen any of these acts before would know it won’t be short on entertainment. We also wanted to mix the launch party up a little and add some things that you don’t normally get at a run-of-the-mill gig. This includes having amazing local artist James Giddy doing ‘live’ painting at the event, which will be inspired by the four bands. We’ll have DJ James Kznza Morty spinning some bangers, and all our proceeds from the show is being donated to The Humanitarian Group’s ‘A Fair Go For Asylum Seekers Appeal’. This includes the proceeds made from the auctioning off of that piece from James.
Catch Oh White Mare launch their new EP All The Modern Lovers at Babushka on Saturday April 22.