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OdESSA Interview

Lucy Wyatt



To the rock, to the pop, to the funk – here’s OdESSA.
Recording their dazzling new album The Prize in just two and half days, this time not deleting the material from their studio’s hardrive, it looks like OdESSA are onto a winner. With their new band member, the fresh, very accomplished guitarist, Daniel Ryland, comes a new sound to this respected band. Produced by David Long (ex-Muttonbirds), mixed by Mike Gibson and mastered by Grey Calbi in New York (previous work includes: Kings Of Leon, Interpol and The Strokes), more success looks to be on the cards. Past singles (‘Bring The Money Back’) have seen inclusion in short films and TV shows. ‘Promises, Promises’, expertly directed by Simon Ward, won Best Indie Video at the 2006 Juice TV Awards. Climbing onwards and upwards OdESSA is definitely in a good place.
Lucy Wyatt talks to Matthew Pender OdESSA’s charismatic vocalist to find out more.
This month sees the release of your second album – The Prize. After the hardrive disaster of your debut, I bet it was a relief to get this out smoothly. How do you think your sound has changed from Oak Park Avenue?
It’s changed in every way; it’s a different band. We have got a new guitarist, Daniel Ryland, who has brought so much to the album. The band changed at the last minute and we had to make some changes to a lot of the music, but that kept us really focused and fresh. It’s a step up in every single way. From song writing, the performances, the production, you name it – so we are very excited.
OdESSA’s sound is such a diverse fusion of so many genres, particularly drawing from bluesy rock; you obviously draw your influences from many sources. Who are your key inspirations?
This is pretty impossible to answer. We are a band in the classic sense, we sort of put songs together in the way I imagined my favourite band doing when I was a kid. We all sit in a room and play music and grab things out of the ether and chop it into songs. What that means is you have four tastes, and album collections, colliding constantly and everyone brings their own individual voice to it and it becomes that, just classic parts and situations. I don’t think it reflects any one person.
The track ‘The Bleeder’ has some very intriguing lyrics. What was the main stimulus for this track?
The songs are never about one thing; it’s like a shoebox under the bed of experiences that you fosset through and pull together. Often you get that, “what is the song about,” and I’m like “I don’t know.” It all relates to what is going on emotionally.
And who writes the songs in the band, is it a joint effort?
It’s definitely a joint effort, everybody contributes and that said it’s put together in the moment. I crawl away and do the lyrics last and that’s it. As I said, a classic band.
So why The Prize, where has that name derived from?
There is a song on the album called ‘The Prize’ and the chorus of that song sums up the whole theme of the album.
“I don’t know why every time I get
Close to the prize
I just throw in the towel when victory is in sight
I don’t know why every time I get
Close to the prize
I have to rig the game and so I
Lose every time”
It looks like you have conquered New Zealand quite nicely in the last 5 years, being praised by The Sunday Star Times as “the band that can get all of New Zealand to stand up and dance.” Do you have plans to tour overseas soon?
We do talk about it, usually when we are drunk, we haven’t had that serious sit down yet but it’s definitely our plan. We just want to deal with this album first. Now that that’s virtually out of the cage, we can start looking ahead. I don’t think we feel like we have conquered New Zealand. We are an independent band. We have never actually had a hit. We have toured incessantly but have done it the old fashion way, it’s all word of mouth, very much industry lacking, in fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We pay for everything. We play hundreds and hundreds of gigs; actually since the last album we have toured the country eight times. We have built it brick by brick. If we were to have any real success, we would say to ourselves “we deserved this”, and then probably fall over.