O'Death Session - May 2011

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This Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: March 13, 2011
Posting Date: May 2, 2011
Artist Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Links: Odeath.net, Facebook, Wikipedia, Ernest Jenning Record Co
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

Black Dress
Pushing Out
Punk and bluegrass aren’t musical genres that most people think of as an obvious pairing. But the members of Brooklyn’s O’Death aren’t most people. Part of the growing “Gothic Americana” scene, the group intertwines the bluegrass and punk styles in a way that makes sense.

The bluegrass appears via traditional instruments, like the fiddle and banjo, and lyrical themes of rural life, faith, and, of course, death. Punk enters the picture when the somber vocals begin screeching and the seemingly traditional instruments ramp up their noise to match the driving bass and drums.

O’Death began playing in 2003 and built a reputation for relentless touring beginning in 2006, when they played over 100 shows. They’ve opened for the likes of Art Brut, Dr. Dog, and The Big Sleep. This year, they’re touring in support of their fourth album, Outside, which they released on April 19.

For this session, O’Death spoke about the origins of their name, their favorite venues, and their place in the modern music industry. They play the songs “Bugs”, “Black Dress”, and “Pushing Out”, all from Outside.
– Jesseca Bagherpour

ONE: Where did the name O’Death come from?
Gabe Darling: It was an old spiritual—a lot of different people have done versions of it. When we were doing more straight ahead old-time style music, we were hunting around for a name. It came because we had to play a show, and we had to make a poster, and we didn’t have a name and we played the song “O’Death” so we called ourselves that.
TWO: You have been playing as a band since 2003. What is your favorite venue that you’ve played?
Greg Jamie: One of my favorites is Roisin Dubh in Galway because they treat you really nice…I don’t even know why—
Gabe: It’s just a cool room. It’s like an old wooden Irish pub.
Greg: It is a cool room! It smells really bad in there- it’s sticky, very sticky in there. I don’t know why I love it so much. Pappy & Harriet’s is awesome, in Pioneertown, California…we’re going to go there on this trip. It’s like a movie set—Do you know the place? Pappy & Harriet’s?
MB: No…
Greg: It was a western movie set in the 50’s…
Gabe: Or even the forties, I think. It was abandoned by the studios, and then a bunch of Bohemians moved in a turned it into a real town. Pappy & Harriet’s is a bar or restaurant that they –
Greg: And they have a hotel, too, and they put you up in there…and there are horses out there, and it’s like, you’re in the desert and it’s just like, “Wow, this is great!”
THREE: How do you feel about the current music business climate and your place in it?
Gabe: Well, I don’t know who sells records, and how…
Jesse Newman: But it’s not us!
Gabe: It’s like—with the availability of music for free on the internet, and it being unavoidable, it’s kind of like record sales don’t mean as much as playing live shows and touring.
Greg: I think that we’ve never been more out of touch with what’s going on since we started. For whatever it’s worth, I think we’re fitting less and less into the model of what, like, maybe, when we started like five years ago or something, it made more sense…so I don’t think we fit in. I do think that we’re outside the model for how things are going to work.
MB: Why is that?
Greg: I just don’t think we’re really a digital consumption kind of band. We’re not perceived as a band who is going to get a lot of our sales through digital—for some reason. And, I think that you don’t have to be…trends are not in our favor right now, which is fine.
Gabe: There’s a lot of that single, like…“Get that single out into the blogs!” and then get media attention, and then people buy it on iTunes on impulse, and that’s how most sales are happening. I don’t know. We’ve always been more of a live band anyway.
Greg: And I don’t know if you have to be a live band right now, you know? I feel like you can just press “Record”—
Gabe: —but we made a really good record!
Greg: Yeah, we did make a really good record. [laughing]
Gabe: So, I hope people will buy it, but, uh…I think they’ll probably just steal it, if I know people. And I…don’t. I don’t know people—I know Greg, I know Newman, and I just met you guys, and you seem cool. Please don’t steal our album.
MB: I won’t!
Gabe: [Laughs] No, you can steal it. Everybody can steal it. Steal our album—but share it if you do!