31st August '03
Oswald is a five-piece rock band from Berkeley, CA with innovative songs and uncompromising artistic integrity. Compared to the likes of Radiohead, Nirvana & Pink Floyd to name a few, their distinctive, original sound makes them a band no-one's CD collection is complete without one of their releases. Currently working hard on completion of their third CD release, SkidMcSkidder catches up with the Berkley, CA, boys to talk about the new album and their current scene.

SkidMcSkidder: Hi guys! Thanks for taking time out of your busy recording schedules to talk to SkidMark! How are things in sunny California?

oswaldmusic: Obnoxiously sunny and dreadfully hot.

oswaldmusic: Teeming with radiation.

SkidMcSkidder: Damn! England being England is cloudy and miserable as usual! (Laughs out loud).

oswaldmusic: We are envious.

SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh, so, can I kick off with a question that I've wondered about since I first got a hold of your CD - Oswald is an enigmatic name for a band - what was the inspiration for it?

oswaldmusic: Well, the name came from a friend's pet frog but we liked it because we're all fascinated with conspiracy theory and such.

SkidMcSkidder: (Laughs out loud) I like it! And there was me thinking along the lines of JFK & all that that entailed!

SkidMcSkidder: How long has the band been together?

oswaldmusic: About 3 years I suppose.

SkidMcSkidder: So how did you guys hook up together?

oswaldmusic: Well, Chad and Eric are brothers and have been playing together for years. I knew them from high school. Paul, our keyboardist just started showing up at practice one day and Mirko (our bassist) followed us home and we haven't been able to get rid of him since.

SkidMcSkidder: I mentioned "the CD" just now - "A failed attempt to alter history" is an intense, professionally crafted and instantly listenable album and, even more amazing, was your debut CD! Being your first studio offering, do you feel it captured the Oswald essence?

oswaldmusic: Not exactly. We had only been together a couple of months and started out recording it in our living room for lack of funds. However, some things got lost in the translation literally, and we ended up losing many of the files, including guitar tracks, vocal comps, and even a couple of songs. In hindsight, it would be nice to go into the studio and re-track a couple of those songs, which we may do someday but the whole experience was very worthwhile and helped us get started. Thanks for the compliments by the way.

SkidMcSkidder: No problem - I still enjoy listening to that CD immensely - also Your last release, "The Shine on sessions" is on constant rotation in the SkidMark CD player as the material on it is phenomenal (especially dig the power ballad "Empty Seat").It's not often a band that produces such an outstanding debut album can follow it up with tracks of even higher quality - what's your inspiration for the intelligent, mature yet fresh and damned catchy songs you write & record?

oswaldmusic: Thanks again. Power ballad, eh? We tracked those "shine on" songs in a day and didn't really feel we captured them so we re-tracked them for our new album which we're wrapping up production on this week. As far as inspiration goes, we all have similar, yet eclectic influences and it all comes out in the writing. Our take on song writing puts melody and lyrics more to the forefront. I guess we're all just more interested in art that has something to say so we try and follow suit.

SkidMcSkidder: Great news the songs will be a part of the new album and even better news that it's virtually wrapped up - if it's anything like the last two CD's then it'll definitely a SkidMark 100% recommended purchase! In fact, where will the general public be able to get their hands on a copy once it's released?

oswaldmusic: Our website I suppose since we haven't hammered out a distribution deal yet.

SkidMcSkidder: Cool - staying on the subject of Oswald releases - You experimented with dance/trance with a remix of the very cool track "Leeches" off the 1st album - how did that come about? And who is "Frogger" the guy who re-mixed the track??

oswaldmusic: Oh wow, I forgot I sent that to you. Frogger is a friend of ours named Ryan "Dongle" Hunt. He helped us produce the first two records and experiments alot with drum and bass/jungle music. He did the remix for fun and surprised us with it. We think it's a riot.

SkidMcSkidder: Yeah, it surprised me how well it worked too - both versions of the song are great.

oswaldmusic: Thanks. Yeah, I take E and dance to it every morning.

SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh ACIIIID!!

SkidMcSkidder: As you've mentioned, you have the new album coming out in September (can't wait!) - tell me a little about it.

oswaldmusic: Well, its tentatively called In Vitro Surrogate. It's in the process of being mixed and sequenced this week. There are 12 songs. It's a bit darker than our first release and has virtually catapulted us into poverty already. Luckily, we had the opportunity to record this one in a real studio so the tones and sound quality are much better than our previous releases. Right now, the release date is scheduled for september 26th if all goes according to plan. We'll send you a copy.

SkidMcSkidder: Fantastic! That's given me something to look forward to this month! So who are the song writing "brains" behind your awesome tracks - or is it more of a "communal" effort?

oswaldmusic: I would say its communal. Eric usually comes in with a song on acoustic, and we all try to throw in our two cents until we've thoroughly screwed it up and derailed the song off its present course.

SkidMcSkidder: Heh heh…the way many a good track is written!

oswaldmusic: Glad someone thinks so.

SkidMcSkidder: For those who are new to the Oswald scene - You've been compared to many leading mainstream artists such as Radiohead, Nirvana & even the Cure - I know you're especially fond of at least two of these ground breaking bands, so how does it make you feel to be classed in the same genre as them?

oswaldmusic: Well, being in our mid-twenties, I suppose its hard to have grown up not being weened on the music of Nirvana and Radiohead. But we also have a great appreciation for bands like Pink Floyd and the Beatles. We're pretty much appreciative of anyone who's interested in the more human elements of song writing. We tend to like bands that explore the darker side of their psyche. I was having a conversation with Paul yesterday about the Cure. They're regarded as such a dark band but their music comes across as dance pop to me.

SkidMcSkidder: You recently played the world-famous Viper Rooms in L.A. How'd the gig go?

oswaldmusic: It went well. It was hard to get around the pretentious attitudes in LA, but we managed to make the most of it. Actually, we were very pleased with the turnout. A couple of fans actually surprised us and made the drive down from San Francisco to catch our set. That was the highlight of the trip for us. That, and hanging out with Depp.

SkidMcSkidder: Talking about fans - You must have quite a following on the California circuit by now - are there any venues you play on a regular basis where potential fans can come check you out?

oswaldmusic: Well, our release party is going to be at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco. We tend to play in the city mostly because there seems to be more of a legitimate interest in the arts. People will actually come to a show just to check out a band they've never heard of which doesn't happen as much in the suburban sprawl areas.

SkidMcSkidder: Have you any plans for any major touring in/out of the US in the near future?

oswaldmusic: We're working on it. We've been trying to set up mini tours between breaks in our schedule but so far we haven't ventured out of california.

SkidMcSkidder: It'd be great to see you guys jump the pond and play the UK - what do you reckon the chances of that are for the future?

oswaldmusic: Um, well, we've been talking to someone about setting us up on a tour with Interscope but who knows if that will ever happen. I guess its simply a matter of working our way east until we can find some kind of support. If that happens, we'll gladly play the UK. We could use a break from this dreadful weather.

SkidMcSkidder: Ha ha! I'll do you a swap for some of that there sunshine!

SkidMcSkidder: One question I like to ask in these interviews is: what's the most bizarre thing to have happened at an Oswald gig?

oswaldmusic: People showed up.

SkidMcSkidder: (Laughs out loud).

oswaldmusic: Um, actually, we had a fight break out in the middle of one of our power ballads and we had to stop the song until things got settled. We also played a drag show once.

SkidMcSkidder: Did you play in drag? (Laughs out loud)

oswaldmusic: Not yet, but soon

SkidMcSkidder: That'll be one show to look out for heh heh!

oswaldmusic: I'm actually in drag right now.

SkidMcSkidder: Webcam please! (Laughs out loud).

SkidMcSkidder: In addition to serious gigging, how do you feel the internet has exposed the Oswald scene to the world?

oswaldmusic: Well, it gives us the opportunity to distribute our music for free all across the world to anyone who'll listen. Thanks to the internet, we've gained fans in Italy, France, Columbia, and even the UK. That's something that couldn't have happened for bands like us only a few years ago. We've decidedly embraced the technology.

SkidMcSkidder: Have you ever performed on an internet radio webcast show?

oswaldmusic: Actually we have…A few months ago. The studio that's mixing our album puts on shows that are webcast live. Not sure anyone tuned in though but we'll be doing one again before years end.

SkidMcSkidder: Cool - be sure to let me know the date / time and I'll get it up on the "Hot off the press" section of SkidMark - will be a show worth tuning into.

SkidMcSkidder: So what does the rest of 2003 hold in store for Oswald?

oswaldmusic: Thanks…More touring and shameless self promotion. Trying to make some of our money back on the album. We're working on a DVD right now and editing some music videos. And of course writing and playing at every opportunity. Just basically trying to keep busy and get our minds off the harsh reality of the world around us.

SkidMcSkidder: Well that just about wraps it up boys - thanks for taking the time out to talk to me.

oswaldmusic: Thank you so much. It's been fun. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. And thanks again for the support. Best of luck with everything.

SkidMcSkidder: My pleasure - it's great to know that there are seriously talented acts on SkidMark that make the trip around the site worthwhile to the visitor - and the same goes to you - anything I can do for you guys just let me know.

oswaldmusic: Thanks mark. You're swell. Take care.

SkidMcSkidder: You too. The best of luck with the CD release guys. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you OSWALD.

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Virtual Interview conducted using YAHOO instant messenger 31-08-2003
SkidMark Multimedia Productions MMIII