There are larger hooks, catchier choruses and stranger instrumentation to be found on the record but there is also some sludgy stuff, classic rock vibes, lots of noise rock thrown in too.
OHHMS have been making waves for for a while now with their doom meets post-metal meets stoner sound and a host of well received album like The Fool, Exist, and Close. The band are in the final stages of completing their next album and have just released the first single from it entitled ‘The Mephisto Waltz’ and it certainly bodes well for another cracking record. Gavin Brown caught up with OHHMS singer Paul Waller who tells about the new single and gives us an insight into the new album, its sound and what it is about. They also discussed all things horror related, something that shaped the new album in all forms.
E&D: Your catchy new single ‘The Mephisto Waltz’ is out now. What has the response to this new song been like so far?
Paul: It’s been quite interesting so far, surprisingly nothing negative as of yet, even when we road tested it and one of the other new ones last year the response was through the roof positive. We will have to wait to see if it makes a real connection with people as time goes on though I reckon. As cliche as it sounds we really enjoy playing it and that’s what matters most.
E&D: Is the song a good indication of how your new album will sound or will there be a few surprises as well?
Paul: It is a good indication, it still sounds like OHHMS, the recording feels raw and garagey throughout, but also you could say there is nothing quite as instant as ‘The Mephisto Waltz’ on the new album. Saying that, there are larger hooks, catchier choruses and stranger instrumentation to be found on the record but there is also some sludgy stuff, classic rock vibes, lots of noise rock thrown in too, I’ve lived with it for a year now and it feels very cohesive to me. It’s an odd one and I think you’ll understand exactly what I mean when the second single is released later in the year.
E&D: What is the status of the new album and how has the creation and recording of it been going?
Paul: Well, in every step of the process of creation of this album there has been interruptions due to the pandemic. Not one element got away without suffering at the hands of Covid. From the writing, recording, mixing, mastering and artwork etc etc. It’s been a challenge for sure. We should have the final ‘everything’ in our hands by the end of next week and then we can hand it in to the label.
E&D: When can we expect the album to come out?
Paul: As things stand right now, early 2023 is all we can say.
E&D: ‘The Mephisto Waltz’ is based on a horror film, can you tell us what it is about and what made you choose that one to write a song about?
Paul: Where would I even begin? When Covid hit I started a podcast (much like every other human on earth) called A Year In Horror, where I would go through one year at a time watching all the horror films that I could from that year, anything that I could gain access to. 1971 was the 2nd episode and The Mephisto Waltz was part of that. After I had watched it for part of the podcast that one and also ‘Let’s Scare Jessica To Death’ left a real impression on me. Various scenes and set pieces kept rattling through my brain and I started writing.
E&D: The rest of the songs are all about different horror films too, can you tell us about that and how you came up with the idea?
Paul: The idea itself has been with us since before we recorded our first EP. But at the time of hitting the studio for that (the Bloom EP) I was obsessed with animal rights and felt the need to write about that and I continued to do so for years afterwards. As I said, the pandemic changed all that, I wanted to be less serious in my writing and hosting the horror podcast reopened a door to that initial horror theme that we had as a band.
E&D: Will you be doing videos for all the songs on the album, almost like a horror anthology?
Paul: Although I would love to, we simply don’t have the finances for that, we literally spent every penny available to us on the excessive time recording this and it’s an album that demands extraordinary artwork as well. We have been far more focussed on getting that just right.
E&D: What other horror films are your all time favourites and what style of horror films do you prefer?
Paul: You name it, I love it. I am ridiculously obsessed about horror from the 1920s to right now. I’ll never catch up or know everything but that’s what makes these deep dives that I take into the horror ocean so exciting for me. I never know when I am going to discover something new. Do I prefer The Video Dead from 1987 to The Hands of Orlac from 1924? Definitely yes! But I don’t regret a moment of those 100 minutes of creeps I got from the classic black and white silent era either.
E&D: What are some of the most underrated or not well known horror films that you love?
Paul: Oh, now you’re talking… I’m just gonna pick a random year from an internet random year generator… we have… 1966 came up. I would say Kill, Baby… Kill directed by Mario Bava – It’s a ghost story of sorts about a cursed village with some groundbreaking imagery for the time and a striking colour palette. Also a really early Dennis Hopper movie called Queen of Blood. It’s set in the distant future of 1990 and has a Martian Vampire played by the devilish Florence Marley who will suck the very life out of any astronaut left alone with her. I loved that too. That’s just two, pick any year though and there will be a stack of underseen gems.
E&D: What is the most horrific horror movie that you have ever watched?
Paul: Due to the animal murder taking place on screen and knowing how the cast and crew were treated on set, I’m gonna say CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.
E&D: How did you get into horror in the first place?
Paul: Along with metal and rock music it falls hand in hand with that old cliche of wanting an escape from whatever shit is going on in your home, and there was a lot of horrible shit going on in my home that I wanted to escape from.
E&D: The comic style artwork for ‘The Mephisto Waltz’ is brilliant. Who did it and will that be the style you are going for with the album?
Paul: It certainly will, we commissioned Samuel B Thorne initially six years ago to do this album but we jumped into the Close album project instead as I think maybe we were a little apprehensive about such a drastic stylistic change so quick, and that is for both the sound and the artwork. With Close the songs became shorter and at points laser focused and it worked out really well. We then became way more confident that this new album would work out. So I got back in touch with Sam and he loved the plans we had and, well, what can I say, it’s been everything we wanted and more.
E&D: Are the band big comic book/horror comics fans and what are some of your favourites?
Paul: Chainy [bass] is the comic lover in the band. I never crossed over into comics, I tried in my late teens and gave a few of the key horror titles a go, I was too full on with movies and music to add another collection addiction into my life.
E&D: Can you tell us about the music video that you have done for ‘The Mephisto Waltz’?
Paul: Of course, we wanted something but as I mentioned we just spent all cash available to us so Chainy spent many a tedious hour on his phone piecing together different clips together from out of copyright b+w horror movies that I had sent over to him to complete a narrative of sorts that would take the viewer through the song. Max then sorted out the text and a month later we had a semblance of a DIY video to put out there from 2 non trained, let’s face it, buffoons (it is the rhythm section after all).
E&D: This will be your fourth album, so do you feel any pressure following up your previous albums or do you just get on with the task in hand?
Paul: The only time we felt any pressure was for The Fool, our debut full length, to release a debut album as a double and also include a 20 minute song, we didn’t think the label would be into it at all, but they were. Our fan base is unusual in that we have people that have loved us since day one, then we have new fans that come in with each separate release but then some drop away as our sound is constantly evolving with each release. There are also loads of people out there that think we are just nothing special at all. just like there is with every band. And for The Fool they were the ones we wanted to appeal to, to show them, LOOK we are better than you think, just listen! For the new album that doesn’t concern me at all. I’ve been doing it for too many years now. This is the exact album that I want to put my name to at this moment in time and if you like it then you are more than welcome, you are fucking fantastic.
E&D: How have OHHMS evolved as a band since your last album, Close, was released a couple of years ago?
Paul: Since the release of Close I would say our ingredients are as follows, Same amount of heavy, rawer production, bigger hooks and chorus’ and two portions of tighter songwriting. Same vocals but with added Stu into the mix. Stir it together. there you have it.
E&D: Do you look back on your first album The Fool and its follow up Exist and the making of them with fondness?
Paul: Of course, The Fool was exciting as it was still very new to us and at that point we were a buzz band with a lot of eyes on us. Exist was very different. We had just had a break up in the band and it was causing tension all because of a song that was really complex. It just created this divide and the music won out over friendship and it was a horrible time. I think by miles that song… ‘Subjects’, it’s the best long song we have released. It’s everything I wanted it to be. But it really put a full stop on one era of the band and opened up this new one.
E&D: Have you got any live plans that you can share with us so far or are you just concentrating on the album?
Paul: We have indeed, we are road testing the new album in full with extra bits and bobs at a select few shows this year. Because the release of the album has been delayed so has the tours but we are bursting to play so we have just announced (as of 10th May) Swansea, Ramsgate, London and Oxford coming up. I can’t wait to find out what works well and what sucks balls. We have never done this before so fingers crossed it wont go tits up.
E&D: Will you be looking to add a lot of new material into your live set when you get back to gigging?
Paul: Always we do. We are the sort of band that opened our sets with that 22 minute song, ‘Subjects’ for a whole 6 months before the album was released.
E&D: How did your return to playing live last year go and what were some of the highlights?
Paul: What surprised us was how busy the shows were. Even though we had just released Close a year before, at that time our label had dissolved and we hadn’t been active for a while and didn’t employ the usual hype machine. We didn’t want to rust up so we booked shows and so many people came out, it was magical. Close had really affected a stack of people that had heard it. It was weird to tour with an album that had also sold out of its initial pressings and to know there was nothing else coming at that point, it felt frustrating that we couldn’t give people the physical product that they wanted but it felt lush to be on stage again.
E&D: What have been some of the highlights in your time with OHHMS so far?
Paul: Achieving the whole goal of the band in the first 6 months of our existence was perfect. The whole point of OHHMS was to form a band that we enjoyed being in that could play Hevy Fest and have a release on Holy Roar Records. Within 6 months we had done it. I held the physical product of Bloom in my hand that was released on a label that was full of my favourite bands. We then played to a packed Hevy Fest stage and to top it all off we were added onto the bill of Temples Festival where I think we played the greatest show of our lives up to that point. Since then Holy Roar disappeared in the saddest of ways, Hevy Fest went financially tits up and Temples went under in an explosion of cocaine fuelled bullshit. OHHMS will eventually rot with the best of them but we have something left to say and we are properly humbled to still have that voice given to us by you lot. Thank you.