Dispite being a "young" band - started just over two years ago from now - OHHMS are now one big case in UK's underground scene. They released their latest and well-acclaimed EP Cold on Holy Roar Records last June, including the single "The Anchor", that followed the debut EP Bloom (2014), and the promise has been made: the full length album is set to be out in early 2017.
With a unique sound crossing the foundations of tone found in Doom, Progressive Rock and Post-Metal, OHHMS are fully embracing the festival season. This April, the band are confirmed to play Sound Bay Fest in Almada - where they will probably give the most loud and heavy gig in the whole festival - and also on Desertfest London. Regarding the portuguese live debut and the appearance on Desertfest, we get in touch with OHHMS's frontman, Paul Waller, and asked him a few questions.
"Come and get doomed."
For someone who doesn’t know you, tell us who are OHHMS. How do you met each other and decided to make a band with a sound like yours.
We are 5 friends hellbent on making music that interests and excites us. We’ve all been in other bands that didn’t fulfil our creative appetites; this time around things are different. We love what we do to bursting point. In the practice room we talk to each other as much as we play music, we talk about other bands, you know, about what we are listening to at that moment and about our personal relationships just like any other friends do. When we sit down and write songs though, thats really exciting for me - when those guys come up with their ideas I just sit back in awe. I sit back and think of melodies and I'm often stunned when the songs are complete. I think: how the hell did we come up with this?
Why the name OHHMS and why do you sometimes use ((OHHMS)) almost like Sunn O)))? To tell the people that you have as much as live sound power?
Our guitarist Marc came up with the name. We wanted something easy to google so we used the two H’s. The brackets though, they were put there by the artist who designed our logo, it is meant to represent movement or sound waves. He knew nothing of the Sunn O))) similarity but of course we did when we got the logo back. We were hesitant at first but within days of staring at it we knew the logo was something special. We ended up loving the brackets so they stuck. Sunn O))) were not the first to use brackets in band names and I am sure we will not be the last.
You described yourself as "Progressive. Stoner. Psych. Doom. Noise. Slow. Animal. Rights.” How do you do to manage all those genres in one unique sound?
When we started out, before we had anything out there for people to hear we had to describe ourselves as something, just so people could maybe conjure up an idea in their heads of what we may be like live. That's the best we could come up with at the time. No band wants to pigeonhole themselves so I think soon will we change our Facebook description to something less thought provoking and let listeners put us where they think we fit best. They can judge for themselves.
You were saying that you sit back and think of melodies and your friends came up with their ideas too. I was about to ask you if your music is a result of jamming days or something more planned, but you kinda answer already.
We have 3 musical song writers in the band, I do all the lyrics and Max, our drummer comes up with these little ideas that usually make the song what is… It’s a technique we have used since day one. One of the guys writes a complete song and presents it to the rest of us. Then we throw away the bits we don’t like and chisel away as a whole band until it’s just right.
Bloom came out in 2014, Cold in 2015. Can we expect something new this year?
Nah, we are planning on having our debut full length album out in early 2017. We are writing and recording it this year though and so far we are half way through and it sounds incredible if I do say so myself. The songs are a little shorter and faster in places too. I can’t wait for people to hear it.
You played live for the first time in April 2014 and to the current days you played a lot in UK. How it’s been the ride?
Yeah, when we first started just like any band we played everywhere we could and as often as we could. Luckily a few of the right people saw us and we landed a record deal and some high profile festivals pretty quickly. I think if you put every part of your being into something that you love then you can make your own luck to get where you need to go. We are still a young band though…. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.
What can we expect from a OHHMS’s live gig? A blasted out PA?
Well, we do play loud. I love the feeling of the bass pulsing through my body. It makes me sway, it physically moves me, and sometimes I think I’m just in it for the ride. I really get swept up with the whole thing.
Now more serious, you have long songs, how do you manage it live? Playing pieces of many, or less but in fully?
We like to play the songs in full, from beginning to end. I can’t see Sound Bay Festival being any different. We usually play just 2 songs, every now and again we do 3 but normally we get physically drained after the second song finishes, doing a third is killer.
You are going to play in Lisbon’s Sound Bay Festival. I think that’s your first time playing in Portugal. What do you know about our country?
We have played in Europe a few times now, but this will be our first Portuguese show and we cannot wait. I hope it will be the first of many visits. As for my Portuguese knowledge there is not much so please excuse my ignorance. I know my European folk lore though and Portugal is home to the supernatural being, the Enchanted Moura. From what I can remember I am sure she is the enchantress that sucks you into her spell via her beautiful singing voice. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for her.
Do you know any Portuguese bands?
In all honesty, off the top of my head the only one I can think of is Moonspell. We played a festival in London with them recently. They headlined the MainStage and we headlined a smaller one. Apart from that my knowledge is minimal. Who would you recommend?
Well, I think I can send you a list later. You are also going to play in Desertfest London, one of the most important festivals in this scene. How do you feel about that?
We were honoured to be asked to play of course; a couple of us were planning on going anyway so yeah, we couldn’t be happier. Also it’s the very next day after Sound Bay Festival so we are catching a flight to make it back to the UK on time. How cool is that? We feel like a real band.
Any band that you will enjoy share the stage with, or that you really need to see? Both in Sound Bay and Desertfest.
Oh hell yes, for Sound Bay Fest, Bang are a band I discovered a few years ago and I proper fell in love with them, their self-titled album from 1972 is always getting played in my home. Alcest is another band that I’ve never seen and can’t wait to catch for the first time and Mondo Drag is exactly the same. I can’t wait to see them after listening to them for ages. As for Desertfest… Well, my favourite band in recent years has been Blood Ceremony and they play the same day as us so all I can say is BRING IT ON.
What do you think about the growing popularity of the Stoner Doom and Heavy Psych scene in Europe and now very evident in the US?
Contrary to popular opinion I think that the growth has been steady and even though the bands are plentiful there is still a lot of life in the old dog yet. It will take a couple of bands to really break through before the scene gets clogged up with crappy wannabe bands. Right now there is so little money in it that bands wouldn’t form and play this style unless they are obsessed with it.
Our typical question. What 2016 albums did you liked the most so far?
Currently the new Slabdragger double album is getting a lot of plays on my stereo. The first track called "Mercenary Blues" is an absolute stormer. I also rate the new Mortorpsycho LP. They just get finer with age, just like my good self. Also the new Mars Red Sky album has a track at around the half way mark that maybe the best song I’ve heard in years.
Last message for the readers.
If we don’t see you at Sound Bay Festival then you can check us out on social media. Come and say hello… we are nice guys, except for our bass player. Don’t approach him. He smells and is proper weird.