Originally building the foundations of their band in Wiltshire, ‘OST’ (formerly known as Old School Tie) relocated to Birmingham in order to spread their music and will be performing at The Flapper on Saturday 27th February.
Jennifer Isles caught up with the band to get the latest on what they are up to in the run up to their latest self-funded album release, called ‘The Live Sessions’ and how it all began as young ones who simply loved to make music.
Four piece OST are made up of two sets of brothers who produce an eclectic style of music, electro through to rock, managing to put a unique spin on what the electro music genre typically consists of.
James takes lead vocals and guitar, his sibling Dan plays the drums and backing vocals, Mike is guitars, keys, percussion and backing vocals and his brother Chris is on bass and backing vocals.
So can you tell me a little bit about how OST started and where it all began?
James: “It all began many years ago when we had mere bum fluff on our faces. We met at school and are two sets of brothers. We ended up becoming an instrumental group when we split from our singer, but that allowed us to really explore our music.
“About seven years ago we started as a backing group for a blues vocalist,” adds Mike. “We had entered a battle of the bands competition and our singer dropped out a few days before we were due to play. Instead of giving up we decided to write a 20-minute instrumental piece with no breaks or pauses. We won the competition. It was from this that we started to write and record together as a band.”
Describe yourselves in three words.
James: “Energetic; Uplifting; Progressive.”
Mike: “Euphoric; Danceheavy; Rock.”
Dan: “Ambient; Dance; Rock.”
Chris: “Broke; Hungry; Homeless.”
What are your musical influences?
“My influences range from a heavy post-rock phase with bands like Explosions In The Sky and Silver Mt Zion to nowadays when I listen to too much Bon Iver, Bob Marley and Delphic,” confesses James. “Basically, I like anything with soul and a great melody. We all have our own tastes and influences which contribute to our sound but often cause the writing process to take a while.”
Mike: “A complete contrast, ranging from classical composers and film music through to reggae and dub, whilst stopping off at Rock City and Trance Nation.”
Dan: “Incubus, Mars Volta and Rage Against the Machine.”
Chris: “I listen to anything which has a bit of soul to it. Arcade Fire always put me in a good place, as well as Youngblood Brass Band and 360. Ben Harper has an incredible bass player.”
How did you develop your eclectic mix of electro / rock?
“It developed from each of us having very different influences and motivations, combined with the way we write music,” begins Mike. “All our ideas come from jams, where we can all imprint our own style and vision for the song into the writing process. This is where our originality occurs.”
“We blend all the sounds we like to hear,” adds James. “We all have a love of big chiming guitars, fuzz pedals, dirty synths and some disco drums, so we just mix them together and different songs get different treatments. We always aimed to make music that people could dance to.”
Where’s the best place you guys have performed at?
“We had a prime-time slot on The Victoria Square Stage at last year’s Birmingham ArtsFest which was pretty epic,” enthuses James. “Playing our hearts out over that massive fountain and watching the crowd swell and responding to us. That certainly wasn’t your normal ‘run-of-the-mill’ gig. The first night of our Norway tour at Blaest Trondheim was the most excited I’ve ever been, many beautiful faces there.”
“For me the Fieldview Festival main stage and The Vic in Old Town and 12Bar, both in Swindon,” recalls Dan. “It was the best atmosphere and crowd we’ve played to, and a great sound engineer.”
Are you looking forward to returning to your roots and performing at The Flapper in Birmingham?
“It’s a great line-up and a proper underground rock place, so looking forward to it, say James. “Been listening to China Red and Hitchcock on MySpace and the line up should be in a big club somewhere. We’ll certainly rock the Flapper.”
Mike adds; “It’ll be nice to see all the people that supported us night after night when we were based in Brum.”
“Might as well be honest,” says Chris. “We haven’t played The Flapper for years. We’ve had issues with the venue in the past, to the extent that we’ve avoided the place, but Carlo’s (Birmingham Promoters) done a lot of work there so it’s going to be really interesting to return.
What other bands are you listening to at the moment?
James: “I’m addicted to the Delphic album, I wanted to find faults with it but it’s pretty perfect.”
Mike: “The Anomalies, Picture Book and 360.”
Dan: “I’m currently listening to lots, Renegades by Rage Against the Machine is my favourite at the moment.”
Chris: “I’m listening to a lot of New Zealanders at the moment – Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Black Seeds, Trinity Roots. Oh and Ben Howard is excellent, he is a West Country boy too I think.”
Not only are the brothers Cameron and Unwin devoting their time to the band, they are also behind the Wiltshire based Fieldview Festival, now in its sixth year after beginning in James and Dan’s parent’s garden and having played host to the likes of Lazy Habits, Blue Whale favourite, Vijay Kishore and Danny and The Champions of the World. According to James, preparations are already well under way: “We have already approached some Brummy bands to play, Goodnight Lenin being one, and also the mighty 360. Hopefully we can strengthen the line-up again this year and build on last year’s success.”
Mike adds: : “It will be bigger and better, but still retaining the friendly and intimate Fieldview atmosphere.”
“Everyone knows everyone because basically most people hear about it through word of mouth, so the atmosphere is absolutely brilliant,” says Chris.
What are your plans for 2010?
“We are busy putting the finishing touches to another album, says James. “We are six tracks in and need to finish the rest. Then hopefully festivals, tours and the usual merry-go-round, which also involves us building the whole Fieldview set up and pulling that off. We also want to go back to Norway and Scandinavia, hopefully calling in to a few other countries on the way. Just need more time and energy.”
Mike: “In addition to maintaining our Birmingham connections, we want to establish ourselves in London. We also want to finish recording a new album with the aim of touring later this year and hitting the UK festival circuit. Should be set for a good year!”
Get down to The Flapper on Saturday 27th February to hear the first of many great gigs for 2010 from OST, alongside ‘China Red’ and ‘Hitchcock’. Go here for tickets and more info.