The LA-based OSLO-- have received a strong
welcome with their moody first single "Minutegun" on Indie 103.1 in Los Angeles.
Their music blends with a hint of electronica and biting guitars of early U2, the off-kilter vocals of Joy Division and the atmospherics of Pink Floyd -- not at all what you'd expect from founder McNair, who spent the better part of a decade touring as a multi-instrumentalist for ska-popsters No Doubt. The art of Oslo’s atmospheric rock relies on the science of blending soft
harmonies with warm synthesizer pads, alternative guitar sounds and
heart-thumping drumbeats. Oslo’s focus is not on individual performances, but
rather on a warm, collectively orchestrated live sound is doing a great job of experimenting with sounds .
At their live show at Blake's in Berkeley they had a great turn out of curious music fans and performed a fantastic array of songs from their there new Album their self-titled debut March 29 on FKE Records (Majestic Recording Inc. distribution) OSLO--featuring MATTIA BORRANI as lead vocalist and on guitar (mellowdrone), GABRIAL McNAIR on lead guitar and backing vocals (No Doubt multi-instrumentalist) and bassist KERRY WAYNE JAMES(Scapegoat Wax, mellowdrone).
Interview with OSLO members
Q: So is this just a solo deal or are you trying to make this work as OSLO?
A: Yep. It's a full on band deal.
Q: I didn't know if it was like a project. You know how some bands do that.
A: No. We're in it for the long haul.
Q: That's great. You have nice sound together.
A: Thank you.
Q: You've got a little bit of everything.
Q: How long was this new album in the works?
A: It's been the works for four years, but I mean we haven't been steadily working on it. We've been writing songs for about four years since we all met. We started recording about two years ago and then at that time when we finished tracking drums and some base, we started playing live and we really started focusing on the live show and not the record as much. We kind of got sidelined by all the major labels coming after us. Really heavy and we're like okay and our whole goal was to do what we're doing now. That was the original plan was to doing exactly what we were doing right now. But all these labels started coming at us for a year straight.,we're thinking well like man, this will be cool and we'll get some money and we can do this and that. The record was pretty much done in a sense. And then as we all know it didn't work out that way. For us, it was very fortunate. At the time, it wasn't a disappointment. It kind of distracted us. If anything it was a distraction of the integrity of the creativity of the album itself and what could be.
Q: Like let's get there real fast guys?
A: Yeah. Exactly. The other thing that was difficult for us was that we were, as we played live more, we were developing more, so we would go back to maybe a guitar track that was laid down or a keyboard track that was laid and I'm not doing that anymore. I liked it three months ago, but now I don't really like it so much. Let's change it. Let's change the sound. Let's change the part. And then all of a sudden it just continued development. We finally just had to cut ourselves off and go you know what? During this whole time we could have made another whole record. That's a snapshot of OSLO circa at this time and then make a new one. And so that's what we did. I mean we could still be tweeking on this record.
A: Everyone has such imagination that go so far out there. We kind of have to pull each other back in.
Q: Start making songs that last 30 minutes?
A: Yeah. We had to do some editing of some songs. There was one song, "All Terrain." That song I think went 8 - 9 minutes. We had to turn that off.
Q: Or just the variations of the jams and everything?
A: Yeah. Jamming out and steeling out.
Q: How did the music & words come together?
A: The way it worked for us, someone would come up with an idea. And then someone would come up with a guitar riff and a melody of lyrics and we'd just kind of bring to the band and it was formed in that way. Which is the easiest way to do it for us. But now we're finding more and more as time goes on and the more we trust one another, we can kind of jam and the songs come like that now.
Q: That's when you've got the feeling?
A: That's the new record is going to be like that. But still if somebody brings a song, or myself, or I've got this idea here is the cords, here's the melody, here's the words, or if it someone brings some halfway finished and we all just add to it.
Q: It's nice to have that feeling that you can still produce another record right off the bat?
A: To be honest, I think we have probably like three or four CD's in our heads. We have so many different songs that we want to cover.
Q: I'm like to hear that in a band.
A: Well thanks Randy. We were just talking about the new record today and that we're going to start recording soon. That we have to move on. But we're happy that it's being received well though. We're very fortunate and very blessed that people are open enough to kind of appreciate what we're doing, you know because we put a lot of work into it. We're still putting a lot of work into it. Like today I was driving the band and I thought we have a lot of work ahead of us - on the business end. The business part takes to a whole another area.
Q: That's why you talk to people like me. You tell me a little bit. I put it in a magazine and there it goes.
A: It's hard man. For a band, we definitely have our own label and we're sub-managed. Just with our backgrounds, it's just makes it easier for us to kind of be in the business area. It gives us a lot of control over all. Not that we're control freaks. But we just have a better idea of where we want to go and how we want to direct ourselves.
Q: What is different with Oslo?
A: I think I've felt that in other bands, but also I've always started other bands and I've always been a core in other bands. This is the first band in a sense where I'm the core, but I'm not a core, there's three other cores to the apple. It's makes it more interesting and gives it a complexities. We think alike in a lot of ways.
Q: It sounds like you think a lot alike if you've already got a couple of albums already in your head and in the works. That's great. You know your name is a trip. If you put it on the internet, you're getting Norway.
A: Yeah. Exactly.
Q: Finally, you're on Amazon.com.
A: Yeah. Geez man.
Q: And they're telling that your album is going to be out in March. Things are working. That's how it works. Now you're doing this tour. I guess LA is your main hub. Is that it?
A: Yeah. That's where we rest our heads.
Q: Because you did a release party there I guess?
A: Yeah. And that was amazing. We didn't even expect the turnout that came out. There were about five or six hundred people. It's presented by a radio station called Indie 103 that have main supporters of us. And they really helped launch the OSLO name even more to the people into the LA scene.
Q: They don't have anything like that up here.
A: No. No.
Q: I think Live 105 is the closest we've got to Indie. That's awesome that you have something like that now.
A: Yeah. It kind of set an example today of what's going on with us. We owe a lot to Mark Solo and Indie 103. Huge supporters of the band. It's a nice area for that to. A lot of college students that like to hear something new. We talk to the mainstream audience as well. It's really broad for us.
Q: Are you on for any of the big festivals yet, do you know? Like Atlanta has a big music festival and Bonnaroo. Have they told you guys anything?
A: No, not that we're approved. We are looking for bigger tours. Hopefully that'll come together for us. The record has only been out like two weeks. We have time. I think we'll put a year and half into this record. That's how we're looking at it. We have a goal. We definitely have a goal that we want to reach with this record on a business end. And there you go. And while we're doing that, we'll do a whole new record will be created. And then we'll release our new record.
Q: Is a video just as important nowadays too?
A: I don't think it's key anymore. I mean it does play a part. It does. But we just finished one.
Q: You did?
A: Yeah. Yeah. We finished "My Soul." That's the single that we're pushing right now. So, we are going to use that. There are definitely a couple of stations that are interested - networks that are interested in. So hopefully they'll pick it up.
Q: I understand there's a lot of influences in your band too. Everything from U2 to Interpol.
A: I don't know about Interpol., I don't say it's an influence. I think we just kind of got lumped into that by accident. Most of the songs were already created - pretty much all of them were created before we heard their music at all. Somebody probably misquoted compared to or influenced - somehow got that crossed. But most of the stuff we were influenced by is mainly older stuff. I'd say the most current stuff is like Massive Attack and Bjork. I mean we respect Interpol. They're a great band. They're good friends of ours. We're really proud of them.
Q: It's not like they're saying you stole anything from them? I guess some fans want to ask another fan who do they sound like. Well a little bit like...
A: Which is fine. We have in the past been compared to Cold Play, Radio Head, Interpol, Pink Floyd, Bowie.
Q: It's a high complement.
A: That's huge. Or it's been The Cure or it's been Pink Floyd and the Smiths. Pink Floyd is already dropped on us. Especially Mattia kind of brought that element into with his whole Sid Barrett and Roger Waters influence.
Q: How long is this tour? Where's your stopping point.
A: The tour ends in Tahoe.
Q: What day is that?
A: The 23rd. Friday night.
Q: I guess you probably did the Midwest?
A: Yeah. I think we'll be hitting the west coast a lot in the next two to three months. We're just going to be hitting it really hard and building the fan base and spreading the name. That's our focus.
Q: Do you like the whole touring thing?
A: Yeah. It's easy. We like each other. That helps a lot. Even outside of the music, we still hang out a lot.
Q: Sometimes the smaller clubs might be a little tough because you think hey man, I was on a big stage. You can reach out to a lot of people closer in the smaller clubs.
A: I prefer it. There's some that we do really well and some where people don't even know of us yet. So, we understand the dynamics of how it works and that's some aspects we look at as paying our dues and it's really kind of just spreading the word. That's what we're really doing. So our expectations aren't that high. And being that we walk in with low expectations, it always seems to be an amazing show for us. It's always consistent on stage for us at least. That's the best way to look at it. I think if we expected a lot of people to show us and they didn't, it can be a real bummer and can really affect the show. We just literally bare our minds and just go and play.
Q: You're already invoking some curiosity already - you were members of all these previous bands.
A: Yeah. You know the weird thing about that man. It's great using that, but we also wonder if it's going to take away from this Indie craze. The writers, they see the No Doubt or Skip to Wax names and they'll like "how is this Indie". Especially with the No Doubt name, was mostly playing in a rock band. It's more of a challenge for us, which we are open to. Bring it on. We believe what we do. We're not trying to be Indie. We're just writing music. Unfortunately there's a label to it now. There's a category.
Q: Sure the money's nice, it pays the bills and everything, but if you could feel like you could really create something awesome on your own.
A: Very true.