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Following their latest release, 'The Fool', OHHMS were kind enough to treat us to a complete, frank and in-depth look at the band's story and history...

Interview with OHHMS.
Kent band OHHMS have steadily been going from strength to strength over the three years, and three releases, of their official career, culminating in this year's impressive Tarot-themed concept album 'The Fool'. That deservedly put their mix of atmospheric, progressive Post-Metal/Doom on the cover of a lot of mainstream Metal magazines. We had the opportunity to talk to them ourselves, and the result is this in-depth and entertaining conversation about the band, courtesy of Paul Waller (vocals), Chainey Rabbit (bass), and Daniel Sargent (guitar).

OHHMS: Chainy (Bass), Marc (Guitar), Paul (Vocals), Max (Drums), and Daniel (Guitar).

(1) Greetings, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. Could we start with a brief formal introduction to our readers?

Paul: I'm Paul and I am the vocal guy with OHHMS.

Daniel: I am Daniel I do 50% of the guitars and 76% of the driving. I thought by this time in life I would be a real person.

Chainey: I'm Chainey and I dance half naked holding a bass guitar while screaming to myself.

(2) So you're based in Canterbury, a city renowned for having developed its own idiosyncratic music scene from the '60s onwards. Has that had any great or practical influence on you, or on the band's own development?

Chainey: This is probably the biggest OHHMS lie we've ever lied. We're not really from Canterbury. Us being a Canterbury band is like calling Nirvana or the Melvin's one of those Seattle grunge bands. We all lived about 30-40 minutes drive from Canterbury but because of its huge influence on Prog Rock we wanted to tag along in its glory, most of us are from the surrounding Margate area and anyone who knows Margate, that's the real Seattle of the UK.

Daniel: Canterbury is the bands spiritual home, and I've just moved so it's my actual home.

Paul: I'm a musical history hound. I hunt for everything from the '60s onwards so I was well aware of Soft Machine, Gong and Caravan before we formed and I enjoy the majority of those albums a great deal. The Canterbury hardcore scene of the '00s had a far deeper impact on me than the legendary progressive rock history in the city. Bands such as XcanaanX and November Coming Fire fuelled a scene here which made a small dent in many national music magazines. Whilst I wasn't the biggest fan of the bands involved, the ethics and message of hardcore and DIY music in general has been part of my life for as long as I remember.

(3) What are your main collective and individual musical inspirations? Are any of them actual influences on your sound, would you say?

Paul: Collectively we rarely agree on anything, let alone bands we all enjoy. There has been a couple; we all think The Locust and Nirvana were great. I can't think of any more groups we all collectively love though.

Chainey: Yeah, none of us like the same music, Dan and Paul are on more the metal side, while Max and I HATE metal but then again we are on the side of "you call that music?" Marc is somewhere in the middle. Personally for bass my styles comes from Chili's, Joy Division and Blur, though my wife recently met Alex James, who was arrogantly rude to her, so now I have to kill him. Though more importantly for my overall sound, things like the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series and 'Born Slippy' by Underworld are beyond massive influences. My GLX distortion and DigiTech Whammy are the main keys for the horrible bass tone that I love (as much as the rest of the band keep asking me to change).

Daniel: I met Alex James and one of the other Blur men at an airport in France once. They seemed ok to me.

Paul: Originally when I wanted to create a band with my mates, the thought was to develop the ideas that SWANS put forth on their first few records. I wanted it to be a real direct assault on the eyes and the ears, to create brutal art. Yet when we got in the practice room it didn't really end up like that. The other guys just talk about Blur loads and then we go home.

(4) And, going further back, what sort of musical grounding did you all have? Any formal - or informal - training or more of a learning-by-doing background?

Daniel: I had guitar lessons when I was about 14, I just learned 'Enter Sandman'. Learning guitar has nothing to do with being a guitarist in a band. There are people 100 times better than me at playing guitar, but suck at playing in bands. You need to learn to play for the band which you can only do by being in a band.

Paul: I learned on the job too. I've been the singer of bands for many years and I've completely destroyed my voice in the process through lack of training and having no technique. Unfortunately I spent years shouting and screaming into a mic and now with OHHMS I sing clean so I've had to take lessons to even get through a show properly. It's annoying as hell. I just want to be able to do my job. It's heartbreaking when I can't give my all. Saying that, vocal warm ups help and on tour I don't drink or eat bad. I love what I do so it's really worth putting the extra time in.

Chainey: Me, Marc and Max studied music at university. I still study at home sometimes, going over old music theory books. Funnily enough, I never wanted to go to college, I wanted to keep my music "pure." I was scared, I didn't want to become everything I hated and now I'm thankful for that. Max was a drum teacher for the most of last year, which is why we were the tightest we've ever back then. Both Marc and I have been in many bands together, pushing each other to be better. Dan not long ago got a guitar tutor and Paul downloaded his to his phone, oddly.

(5) Rather tersely, the history OHHMS is pretty much solely presented on Facebook as "Born on 15 April 2014". There must be more of a story to it than that, surely? What got you all together, and the band started?

Paul: That was the date of our first gig. You are not a band until you have taken that step in my eyes and at one point or another most of us have played in bands together so I knew the guys beforehand.

Chainey: We did the first few practices with a different drummer and it wasn't till Max joined we really became a band, so it's hard to find an official date.

Paul: That's right, without him there is no OHHMS as far as I am concerned. His complex and subtly busy style lays the basis upon everything we do.

(6) What does the band name mean?

Daniel: It's an anagram, we came up with it while we were drunk, but no one in the band remembers what it is. I think it's something to do with pizza.

Paul: It's easy to search on google.

Chainey: Well Ohms was taken so Paul stuck an extra 'H' in the middle. We were unaware of the whole ASMR use of the word ohhm at the time so we still pronounce it as ohms, though we don't correct people for saying ohhms the right way. I've just got used to it, now when I see the word 'ohms' it just doesn't look right, like the first time you see videos of yourself naked dancing to George Michael.

(7) It didn't take very long to get the first EP, 'Bloom'', out of the door - it was released in October of 2014, with multi-format offerings through Holy Roar Records. Pretty impressive, both in speed of delivery and in getting full label backing behind it. How did that come about - did you have any of it written, planned or agreed before forming OHHMS, or are you just natural fast workers?

Chainey: Holy Roar was insanely quick.

Paul: It's weird right? Once we got all 5 of us in a room together we bonded immediately. Within a couple of months we had recorded our first 2 songs. 32 minutes' worth of music and played our first set of shows. We really had our shit together. Being a fan of Holy Roar Records I shot over an email containing the music to them and incredibly they loved it but they wanted to see if we were any good live before they committed themselves. So we booked a show in London and Alex came along and well, he bloody loved us. I mean, what a legend.

Chainey: Plus some of us are fast writers/learners, which forces everyone to speed up. Took me roughly 30/40 minutes to write 'Bad Seeds' and I'd imagine it took Marc about the same for 'Rise of the Herbivore'. Usually takes Max 2/3 band practices to learn the full structure and once he knows what he's doing the rest of us can take our time on our own parts.

OHHMS - 'Cold' (Full Album):

(8) The first release that we covered was the 2015 sophomore 'Cold'. How well were those two EPs received, overall? How pleased were you with them?

Daniel: We were extremely pleased with the first two releases, if we hadn't been we wouldn't have let them be released, we have a very strict quality control in OHHMS.

Chainey: I don't know to be honest, I think they did well??? I don't really follow sales or people's opinions that aren't my own. Personally I think 'Cold' is the best thing we've ever done and I've just been assuming the whole world agrees with me. If they haven't done well it hasn't affected the band at all. We started writing our follow up album to 'The Fool' as soon as we'd finished recording it regardless. We just love writing; we already have another 10 songs we're working on for the next couple of albums.

Paul: For me those 2 EPs are everything I could have wanted them to be, a perfect starting point for us. Bands often look back at their early work & feel the need to diss it in public. I never will... those EPs are ace. I really wanted to do the third one sooner to complete the trilogy but this new album we have started to put together now... we have to get it out. That's where my hearts at right now.

(10) I know from personal experience that self-promotion, however authentic it may be, is a depressingly life-sucking prospect - so, you've been with Holy Roar since the beginning: how has that relationship been, and how much do you value the backing of a label, and now Purple Sage's PR machine, to take some of that strain?

Paul: I found it to be great fun at first but as we started to grow so did the workload & even though I delegated a load of work to Dan it wasn't enough... at that point we got in touch with Purple Sage PR & still things kept growing so we bit the bullet and took on a booking agent and some pro management too. This was something that I had been quite reluctant to do in the past but there was no other way to cope without the workload. Most of us have regular jobs too. It's was proving impossible. But would you believe having management has been ideal.

Chainey: It's great, having labels and management just make life easier for us to focus more on writing and performing. Most people would have never heard of us if it wasn't for being signed and promoted properly. Holy Roar is like our generations Factory Records. They have fans that follow all their bands loyally and we've been extremely fortunate to exploit the hell out of them.

Daniel: It's great knowing that the Holy Roar team have our back, we work hard for them, they work hard for us. It's good to have a label, it's almost like a stamp of approval, being a fan of holy roar records before we signed to them I would always check out what they released just because it was a Holy Roar release.

Paul: I'm still super busy with band stuff of course but now it's manageable. They have a plan for us but don't get involved with the artistic side of things. Some of our ideas they run with and some they tell us are terrible ideas & then they suggest we take a different angle. It's nice to have another voice to listen to, it really helps. I'd say the biggest change though, has been in the way we gig. Unless it's a festival we rarely play one off shows now, whereas we use to play everything we were offered that we were available for, we are far more picky now. Our management and booking agent deal with all of it. We just hand them over our available dates and it gets done. Anyone starting out in a band knows that booking tours is the biggest ball ache you are going to face and having a team behind us dealing with that means we can worry about more important things like the music itself.

Discography: 'Bloom' ( 2014), 'Cold' (2015), 'The Fool' (2017).

(11) You've certainly had a lot of coverage for this year's full-length, 'The Fool', with features in many of the big-name Metal magazines, amongst others. Has that level of interest been building up for a while now, or did it just seem to happen all at once?

Paul:It's been gradual for sure, before we had any PR/management/booking agents and all that stuff we were able to get high profile shows & have magazine editors contact us. We were very lucky in that respect. We could have continued in this manner I guess & have the growth of the band be a slower, more organic one but I am not getting any younger & I want to travel the world and maybe make some money from this. That is where having a pro team behind us really falls into place.

Daniel: Its definitely been a building up over the last couple of years, we have gone from little one paragraph mentions, to big reviews and interviews, it's always very flattering and a little surreal to see yourself in a magazine, especially the ones I used to read as a kid.

Chainey: As long as the magazines print a sexy photo of me, I don't care about what ones they're in.

Paul: Plus you have to remember we are a really hard sell. Our music is 'difficult'. Most of our songs are way over 10 minutes long & about organic food, animal rights & depression. On paper we are fucking weirdos. Plus the music itself is never on trend, in fact as soon as anyone writes something which feels like it could be a popular crowd pleasing part we usually bin it at the practice room stage. We know we are not for everyone. For instance this week Dan presented a new song at practice which had this killer, slow doomy spider like riff. Very much like a perfect blend of Black Sabbath & Pentagram. Straight away Max moved it away from having that feel & gave it a playful & busy drum beat, completely altering the feel and dynamic of the song. If he hadn't of done that then the song wouldn't leave the practice room. That is why I think the press has picked up on us. We are unusual but our framework is very recognisable. We are different enough to spark an interest.

(12) I haven't really seen anything other than favourable reviews for 'The Fool', ours included - are you satisfied with how it's been received?

Daniel: Whenever someone says something positive about your art it's always very pleasing. We are thrilled that people like it, I guess like any band or artist we just want to share it with as many people as possible.

Chainey: I've only seen a handful that Paul showed us, one of them was very negative but the guy had a point and was well written. Out of all of the ones I'd read, you could tell that guy really listened, so that was cool. I try avoiding stuff by anyone who's not us five (sometimes I don't even listen to the other four).

OHHMS - 'The World' (Official):

(13) Our reviewer Matt wasn't the only person to comment on 'The Hierophant' seeming more of a throwback to the EPs than the rest of the album. Was that a deliberate sort of bridging point, did it simply come from an earlier period, or does it mean you haven't entirely changed direction away from producing longer compositions?

Daniel: We don't really set out to write long songs for the sake of long songs, I had always wanted to do something with a massive drone since we started the band. Going forward we already have another huge song under way from the mind of our bassist Chainey, and a couple of shorter ones that are taking form.

Chainey: That was Dan's song; I think he actually wrote that before we learnt songs like 'The World' or 'Hanged Man'. A lot of the songs on 'The Fool' were written during 'Bloom' or 'Cold' but were made to wait a while. 'The Hanged Man' was drafted back in 2014. We have songs guys have written which may not be used for a few years from now. We write faster than we can learn them. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Dan wrote 'The Hierophant' for 'Bloom' but had to wait until now to put it on an album. 'The Lovers' (which is also Dan's) was the original intro to an older song, 'Dawn of the Swarm', which we started learn way back before Max had even joined the band. We love to think years ahead of time.

Daniel: I think I wrote 'The Lovers' riff when I was in school, it just stuck in my head for years, never really fitted in anywhere before?

Paul: Everything we write is natural and not forced. If the guys came up with a 1 hour long song then that's what we would release, if the song only needs 5 minutes to make its point then I'm cool with that also. I'm just interested in the quality of the music. All the editing, all that fine tuning, that's all sorted out in the practice room.

14: How did the Tarot concept come about, and what made you decide on those particular cards? Did you fit titles to lyrics, or lyrics to titles...and what are the underlying ideas behind their seemingly abstracted and allegorical nature?

Chainey: I don't know where the Tarot idea came from. Most likely a YouTube documentary.

Paul: Nah, Chainy that wasn't it at all...

Chainey: You suggested it at a band practice and as soon as you said 'concept album' I was in. We just picked the best titles. 'The Hanged Man' was originally 'The Tower' and about 9/11 but lyrically it was a hard subject to drag out for 10 minutes and not sound like a text book. Luckily you saw a xenophobic headline on the Daily Mail paper and we changed course.

Paul: I think I was reading a lot of occult books a few years ago and I found out that while the religious aspects didn't really vibe with me the artwork truly did. It resonates with me so much... & as with religion which I consider to be utter hocus pocus and loony stuff the themes within are all too human. On the eve of our first tour in 2014 which was with Employed to Serve & Body Hound I had already the entire concept sorted in my head. It just took a few years to come together.

OHHMS 22-card Tarot set, available from Holy Roar.

(15) With the two EPs, and now a full-length album, behind you, have you found a particular compositional process and specific areas of contribution that you stick to, or do your songs come from more of an informal evolution and communal input? Has that changed at all over time?

Daniel: It's always pretty much the same process when we write a song, someone comes in with either a bunch of riffs, sometimes with a structure sometimes without, then as a band we run through them, tear them apart build them back up again add new bits throw bits away until we are all happy with the song. Sometimes it came come together very quickly, or can take months.

Chainey: Yep, so far our formula has been; Dan, Marc and I will compose the bare bones of a song at home. We then will wait sheepishly at practice for Paul or Max to ask, "anyone got a new song" then we all add our own parts to whoever's track we choose. Usually we'll all upset each other, Dan will want me to play root notes on his, I'll want both guitars to play different to me and each other on mine and Marc will want Paul to sing in key to his. We usually uneasily ignore each other, and then by the time we record we're surprised how good it all sounds together.

We started Marc's new one the other day and jammed the last 2/3rd which for us was a new way to do things and it's turned out awesomely cool.

Daniel: Sometimes root notes are right for the song Chainey, we are OHHMS, not the fucking Chainey solo bass wank hour.

Paul: Hahahaha. As you can see we really get along.

(16) As a Doom site, we almost have to ask - where do you see yourselves in terms of the Doom scene? What do you consider to be the essential qualities of Doom, and how much of that do you incorporate into your music?

Daniel: I love the doom scene and am glad to be considered part of it. I think our music has elements of doom, but we reach out in to other genres as well. I have never felt comfortable in any band I have been in wanting to stick to a rigid style. At the moment de tuned guitars, heavy slower riffs and drones are what's doing it for us so that's what we are going to do.

Paul: If Black Sabbath is doom then so are we. If Candlemass is doom then not so much.

Chainey: I reckon we're reluctant doom. We thought we were a prog rock band but Holy Roar told everyone we were doom and we believed it. We do have doom/sludge riffs but we also have hardcore and noise rock parts too. Max and I have been trying to drag us into a more post rock or Battles sound since the 'Cold' EP and only now we've got it in there. I think the key is, Dan's an emo turned metaller, Marc's a Deathwish Inc. stoner guitarist, Max is a math rocker who hits like the Melvins and I'm an noise-rock bassist wishing I had the funk, all the while, Paul (who's spent almost 50 years as a hardcore vocalist) changed his style from scream to sing. None of us are on the same wavelength yet are on the same spectrum.

Daniel: I used to think it was strange when I would read interviews with bands and they would moan about being pigeonholed. I used to think just be grateful you are in a band and people are listening. Now I can see their point. I think if an interviewer asks me what genre we are again I'm going to just walk off. They should know that already, they should read this interview and learn, then do some research and come up with some original questions.

(17) You obviously play a lot of shows, how important are the live and studio sides of the band compared to each other? Which would you rather be doing?

Daniel: Playing live is a massive part of being in a band for me. Playing on big stages like Bloodstock and ArcTanGent is such a thrill. Equally I love being in the studio and watching the songs come together.

Chainey: For me I enjoy gigs when I'm in the zone, all though I'm agoraphobic so I don't look forward to gigging BUT gigs make us tighter so they're a necessary evil. I enjoy going to the studio but I've not really spent much time in one. Band practice is home to me. There's nowhere in world I enjoy more. Anytime I'm not at band practice, I'm waiting for band practice!

Paul: Hmmm, when we play live I feel it's not about the music, it's about the attitude. I have a total punk ethos about that and sometimes that's seen as really not cool within the metal world in which we have placed ourselves in. I love that. I look at the audience & sometimes people look at us & you can tell they think we are shitty & worthless & are wondering why they spent their money on us. At the same time the person next to them has their jaw on the floor. They'll come up to us afterwards & cuddle my sweaty stinking husk of a body & tell me they've never experienced anything like it before in their life and I'd rather be in a band that had that attitude & I am happy with my lot in that respect.

(18) What and your best and worst shows or moments on stage? Any good stories on either?

Daniel: One of the scariest was Temples Festival in 2015. It was the first time we had played on a big stage in front of lots of people. We didn't get a sound check, just plugged in and checked our individual sounds and started to play. It was only when we started to play that I realised I was so loud that I couldn't hear any of the other member of the band so I was immediately panicked and a bit lost in the song. To top things off whoever was in control of the smoke on stage put out so much smoke I couldn't see my pedal board to change sounds.

My favourite show is a difficult one, but I would have to say by a whisker this year's ArcTanGent set, the tent was rammed solid and the crowd were really in to it. At one point Paul had jumped off the stage and was singing right at the front row. I remember looking down and seeing somehow Brady Deeprose the singer of our Holy Roar brethren Conjurer had acquired the microphone, he then proceeded to sing the "sail on" parts of our song "The Anchor", next time I looked up our bass player Chainey was being carried across the crowd on his back whilst still playing his guitar.

Chainey: The first time we played Liverpool was probably our best gig. We had issues with the venue and sound man wanting us to play quietly. By the time we played it became an Us Vs Them situation, which really pulled us together as a team, plus the promoter was cool. The most recent Germany date, Max decided to go for a wander at 5am. We were in a quiet little village. Max apparently walked up to strangers asking, "Do you have any drugs?" Then he tried to break into a car, thinking it was ours and then fell asleep on the floor of a bank while were back at the hostel past out. We actually thought we had an interesting night as Paul urinated on our clothes and bags sleepwalking but Max totally won the 'cool story bro' competition that night. It's probably the best thing we've ever done as a flock of dudes.

Daniel: Why did I end up washing all the pissed on clothes?

OHHMS - 'The Anchor' (Live at Bloodstock 2017):

(19) I quote from Facebook "About: Heavy . Not Fast . Animal Rights ." Is that still the distillation of your ethos, or do you see that expanding towards needing a more verbose mission statement?

Chainey: The 'not fast' part is slowly becoming out dated as we're writing fast tunes now, and personally I think it would be cool if we also got lighter too but I can only talk about my own songs with that. With 'The Fool' we did step out to broader political points of view but with this new album we're back to animal rights (and some of those song may also be on the following release).

Paul: I'm still happy with the statement.

Daniel: Is that still on there?? Strange, we have some fast songs and some non-heavy songs now.

(20) So..what's next? Any plans for the near, or more distant, future?

Chainey: More albums. It would be cool to do solo albums like Kiss and the Melvin's? Max and I were meant to do a noise/soundscape EP to fill in between albums but I'm not sure if that's still on? Obviously bring more genres in. Paul always jokes about reggae but I think it's doable. Convincing Dan and Marc would be the hardest part but they brought black metal in, it's only fair Max and I return the favour.

Daniel: I'm up, reggae, but not Ska.

Paul: No, no reggae, what are you on?

We are in a weird place we have never been in before. We've recently turned down a couple of festival appearances and a tour because we want to remain focused on the new album. It's a nice problem to have of course. Sometimes things just have to come out of you & you have to follow the passion wherever it may lead.

Daniel: We are on tour in Europe in October, check out Facebook for the dates. They are our last shows of the year. Other than that we're in the studio writing and recording a new album for the rest of the year and in to early next year. In the distant future we want to play to as many people as we can in as many places as we can. We have talked about possibly going to the USA, Asia and Australia, but as always it comes down to time and money.

(21) To close, I hope we've given you the chance to present a good picture of the band as it is today, but if there is anything you'd like to add, the last words are yours.

Daniel: Please come and watch us if you are open minded and love all heavy music. If you like what you see and see us in the crowd after the show please come and say hello, I love meeting new people and making new friends. We aren't the sort of guys who hang out backstage like rock stars; you will find us on the merch stand, at the bar or in the crowd enjoying the other bands. Let's get pizza.

Paul: By stating this in this interview it will make it official. Brady from Conjurer will be playing some cello on the next OHHMS album.

Daniel: You know we mentioned Brady twice, now three times in this interview, what a guy.

Chainey: Like words like shrubbery or debris, they roll off the tongue nicely. Paul brought to my attention that 'sink' is a cool word because obviously 'to sink' is dark but then kitchen sink is random and pretty worthless. I think I equally love and hate silly words like banana or pudding, because you can never say those words and sound angry. I hate complicated words because I have a lazy tongue and struggle to say too many consonants in a single breath. I really hate how American words sometimes change meaning, like pants.

Editor's note: If you want to catch OHHMS live, your next opportunity is the imminent European tour:
14.10 - Antwerpen (BE) Desertfest Belgium
15.10 - Copenhagen (DK) KB18
17.10 - Dusseldorf (DE) Pitcher
18.10 - Stuttgart (DE) Jugendhaus West
19.10 - Oberhausen (DE) Druckluft
20.10 - Leeuwarden (NL) Into The Void Festival
21.10 - Haarlen (NL) Patronaat.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the OHHMS bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-10-07 by Mike Liassides.
Aesthetic Death
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