Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ogre Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
WILL: We are currently rehearsing for some possible live appearances, and anxiously awaiting the hard copy of the new album to arrive! Everything seems to be clicking.

ROSS:  I would just add that Minotauro Records, our new label, has been doing a stellar job of giving us the kick in the pants that we needed to really get the band rolling again.  Their support throughout the process of creating this new album has been top-notch all around.  I’m just psyched to be jamming with Will and Ed again, and I’m really looking forward to our CD release show in a few weeks.

2.You have a new album coming out this year, can you tell us a little bit more about the musical direction of the new recording and also how does it differ from your previous releases?
WILL: Since reforming, we pretty much decided to pick up where we left off. After “Plague of the Planet,” we wanted to go a little heavier and darker. If I had to compare “The Last Neanderthal” to anything we’ve done before, I’d say it’s probably closest to our second disc “Seven Hells,” although I think the performances, songwriting and maturity on “The Last Neanderthal” is a notch or two above that one!

ROSS:  I think there are a few new textures that we’ve added to this album that help bring it to the next level.  Our goal has always been to preserve that stripped down 70s power trio vibe, but I think that, with each album, we’ve become more conscious of the little things that we can add to an arrangement or mix that will enhance the songs.  In fact, I recently was laughing at myself when I read an interview we did right around the time of “Dawn of the Proto-Man” where I proudly proclaimed, “You’ll never hear a synthesizer on an OGRE record!”  Well, based on “Plague of the Planet” and the opening track of the new album, I guess it’s time for me to eat my words…

3.The band was broken up for a few years, can you tell us a little bit more about the split and also the decision to reform?

WILL: We broke up in ‘09 after our record label, Japan’s Leafhound Records, went out of business. We had such momentum at that time, and it just died. The wind was out of our sails. None of us had the energy to start over completely and try to find a new label after that, so we just called it a day. Ross and I were in DEMENTIA FIVE, which was a garage rock group we started with my wife Peri singing, and that was a lot of fun. But OGRE always stayed friends, even getting together to jam every once in a while. We eventually booked a reunion show in 2012. At that time, we approached it with no future expectations, but new material started being written at such a rapid pace, we decided to try and make another go of it. After that, Minotauro Records came into the picture, and everything seemed to fall into place!

ROSS:  Another factor that led to our decision to “break up” back in 2009 was the fact that we had booked a big 10th anniversary show for that summer.  Once the Leafhound thing  happened and the energy started fizzling out, we thought it would be a cool idea to turn that anniversary show into a farewell show, making it an “Irish wake” sort of deal.  We invited a bunch of our friends to join us on stage, played a bunch of covers and songs we had never played live before, and just had a blast.  We thought that it was better to go out in style, rather than just slowly disappear from the scene, as so many bands do.

ED:  Yeah, what I remember, in terms of the breakup, is that we went from Tokyo to climbing over snow banks in Lewiston, ME to load our equipment into a club filled with geriatric drunks screaming, "You Suck!". I think that was pretty much the end.

WILL: I try to forget that night!

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new release?

Ed: Well, the usual sci-fi, horror, bizzaro type of stuff. Nine Princes in Amber is basically a synopsis of the book of the same name by Rodger Zelazny. It was written in '69 and I'd recommend it as a gripping, trippy read. Bad Trip is a family-values type of song. This addict sets a value on his daughter and trades her to his dealer. Son of Sisyphus is a song about how much I hated my job. Soulless Woman is by the other Ogre...we are eternally grateful for their inspiration! Warpath is about a little known massacre that occurred in the town where Will has his gift shop and the Hermit is inspired by a guy who lived in the Maine woods for 27 years robbing cabins and stuff. They just caught him this year and in the song I turned him into a self-flagellating  mystic. That's about it. Basically, whatever weird thing I happen to read about that day is what I write about.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Ogre'?
WILL: A big, heavy, strong monster seemed to describe the music we were coming up with when we got together, so we decided to go with that!

ED: We actually wrote a back story song called Ogre that was about a band of Neanderthal's living into Medieval times and becoming the basis of the Ogre legend. That was from another, very old sci-fi story I ripped off.

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
WILL: I think we are a bar band at heart in terms of live performances. Some shows are looser than others, but I think we’ve been able to make a good reputation for ourselves out there. My favorite shows would be the “Born Too Late” fest in Rochester NY in ‘09. We had just announced our break-up, and the crowd was giving us a lot of positive energy for that show. First night in Tokyo with CHURCH OF MISERY and BLOOD FARMERS is right up there, too. We played a show up here in Maine with EARTHRIDE a long time ago that I really remember fondly, as well. It felt like we were on fire that night! We also did a three song set at my wedding that I loved because it was the first time my family got to see me play since high school.

ROSS:  Will chose pretty much the same shows that I would have chosen.  The first night in Tokyo was one of the musical highlights of my life, especially when Hideki, the vocalist from CHURCH OF MISERY, joined us on-stage, playing synths when we performed “Plague of the Planet” in its entirety.  That guy is such a madman (and all-around awesome dude) that he just gave the band a huge burst of energy.  That EARTHRIDE show was killer too, as Sherman joined us on stage for a cover of Pentagram’s “Review Your Choices”.  I would also add that some of the best times I’ve had at any shows have been at the Baltimore doom festivals run by John Brenner and Josh Hart of REVELATION fame.  These gigs were memorable not necessarily because of OGRE’s performance, but more because we were playing to a room of fans who were there because of their true love for doom metal.  No poseurs, no bad vibes.  The atmosphere of those shows, especially the first Doom or Be Doomed festival, was unforgettable.  Finally, I’d just add that anytime we play in front of our hometown in Portland is the best!  Our fans rule, and it always makes my night when they sing along to songs like “Age of Ice” and “The Jaded Beast.”

7.Do you have any final or show plans for the new release?

WILL: We’re playing a CD release show in our hometown of Portland ME on March 14th. We’re probably going to do some more live appearances, but probably not a lot. We would love to get a European tour, maybe do some festivals, we’ll see.

ROSS:  I definitely would love to play Europe and, especially, the Roadburn festival!

8.The new album is coming out on Minotuoro Records, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

WILL: Glenn Wrigley, a friend of ours we met through being a fan of the band became the US rep for the label, and really pushed for us. Minotauro if probably mostly known for the Paul Chain reissues and a number of eclectic metal bands they’ve worked with for many years. They seem to be on the rise again, and we’re super happy to be a part of it!

ROSS:  As I mentioned above, Minotauro is just a great label all around.  I especially like their underground vibe.  There is absolutely no trendiness about Minotauro.  Glenn and Marco are in it because they love metal music, and that’s it.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of heavy and doom metal?
ED: Its been almost all positive. We're so lucky to live in a time when we can connect with people all over the world who dig our stuff.

WILL: I love the reaction our music gets, especially from an international standpoint. We’re not for everybody, but the fans of this type of music are super supportive and loyal. Before we had label backing on the new album, we sold copies of a rarities Cdr we put together called “Secondhand Demons” to raise money for recording, and the response was huge from all over the world. It’s because of them that “The Last Neanderthal” was possible, and we can’t thank them enough. I hope they don’t hate it!

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
WILL: I don’t see us ever reinventing the wheel. We’re probably just going to follow our instincts and see where it takes us. It’s done well for us so far!

11.What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

WILL: I like stuff like the new IRON MAN and ARGUS records, but mostly I like trying to find older proto-metal stuff that I’ve never heard before and getting into that.

 ED: I like all kinds of stuff, some of which embarrasses the shit out of Will and Ross. If its original, edgy, atonal and intelligent I usually like it.  Mostly, though, I hate almost everything.

ROSS:  I’m hopelessly stuck in the past, so I’m continually listening to older hard rock and proto-metal bands, things like BUFFALO, HAIRY CHAPTER, DUST, and TOAD.  In terms of current bands, I dig everything that John Brenner puts out. Whether as a member of AGAINST NATURE or REVELATION or any of his latest projects, the guy is one of the classiest and most prolific guitarists/songwriters in the scene, and I just wish more people knew that.  I’d also put in a plug for the new BLOOD FARMERS album, “Headless Eyes,” which is just a doom-metal monster!

12.What are some of your non musical interests?
WILL: I’m a big fan of old comic books. I am an illustrator, and I’ve actually done the artwork for our last three releases, which was really fun. I’ve done a bunch of other record covers, comic books, t shirt designs, etc.. If you want to check out my work, you can go to: Other than that, I like movies, sci-fi and pro wrestling!

ED: I like moving lawns. Seriously, I started my own business mowing lawns. Its the best.

ROSS:  When I’m not spending time with my family, I’m usually collecting and/or listening to music.  I’ve amassed a pretty good sized CD and vinyl collection over the years, so there’s rarely a moment when I’m not jamming out some tunes.  I also am a huge reader, so during quiet moments, I’ve typically got my nose in a book.  All three of us are pretty geeky guys, really.

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
WILL: Thanks for the opportunity to get the word out on our new disc. We’re really proud of it!

ED: Thanks for the interview!

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