|Thee Oh Sees|
Oh Sees live at Primavera Festival 2010
|Orinoka Crash Suite (1997-2003), OCS (2003-2005, 2017), Orange County Sound (2005), The Ohsees (2006), The Oh Sees (2006-2008), Thee Oh Sees (2008-2017), Oh Sees (2017-present)|
|Origin||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Labels||Castle Face, In the Red, Load, Narnack, Rock is Hell, KimoSciotic|
|Pink and Brown, Coachwhips, The Hospitals, The Intelligence, Sic Alps, Ty Segall, Zeigenbock Kopf, Damaged Bug|
Oh Sees are an American rock band from San Francisco, California, formed in 1997. The band currently consists of primary songwriter and core member John Dwyer (vocals, guitar), alongside Tim Hellman (bass), Dan Rincon (drums) and Paul Quattrone (drums). Oh Sees sound incorporates a wide range of rock genres, including 1960s garage rock and psychedelic rock, punk rock, noise rock, art punk, and 1980s post-punk.
Initially an outlet for Dwyer (Coachwhips, Pink and Brown and The Hospitals) to release experimental home recordings, Oh Sees evolved into a full band, featuring Brigid Dawson (vocals, keyboard), Petey Dammit (bass, guitar), Mike Shoun (drums), and Lars Finberg (drums, guitar). Over the course of several releases and genre transitions, the band became noted for their prolific discography, energetic live shows, and whimsical visual aesthetic. The band has changed its lineup and name several times, having previously been known as Orinoka Crash Suite, OCS, Orange County Sound, The Ohsees, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees and Oh Sees.
In late 2013, it was announced that the band would be entering a hiatus. A new studio album, however, entitled Drop, was released in 2014, and Oh Sees subsequently toured as a three-piece, with Sic Alps bassist Tim Hellman and White Fence drummer Nick Murray replacing Dawson, Dammit!, and Shoun. In 2015, Dawson returned to the band, in a studio capacity, for its next studio album, Mutilator Defeated At Last. Following its release, Dwyer and Hellman began touring with two drummers, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, replacing Murray. Touring extensively, this line-up recorded the band's seventeenth and eighteenth studio albums, A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances.
John Dwyer began using the name Orinoka Crash Suite for songs as early as 1997, appearing on compilations many years before using it for full-length releases. During this period between before the first OCS album, he continued to focus on his primary bands, first with Pink and Brown, and later with Zeigenbock Kopf and Coachwhips. In all three groups, Dwyer was the main vocalist, and in Coachwhips and Pink and Brown, he also played guitar.
The first album, simply titled 1, was released in 2003 as the first full album under the OCS name. The first disc was based around acoustic songs, and was individually referred to as 34 Reasons Why Life Goes On Without You. The second disc was a series of "noise" tracks called 18 Reasons To Love Your Hater To Death. None of the songs on either disc have titles. The album's song credits are mostly attributed to John Dwyer, though three are credited to Jeff Rosenberg, who was the drummer under the pseudonym "Brown" in Pink and Brown. The album features several guest musicians, but no one who would continue on to the next album, entitled 2.
2 was released in 2004, and was made in a similar fashion to 1, but with a greater focus on Dwyer as a solo performer.
The band slowly transitioned from being Dwyer's side project into his primary group, as his other bands Coachwhips and Zeigenbock Kopf both disbanded during this period (2005 and 2006, respectively).
OCS became a two-piece with the addition of Patrick Mullins who played percussion and saw. The arrangements continued to be simple, though bolstered by the addition of Mullins. The project's third and fourth studio albums, Songs About Death & Dying Vol. 3 and OCS 4: Get Stoved were released as a two-CD set in 2005.3 was available both as part of this set, and as an individual vinyl release. 4 did not see a vinyl issue until 2008.
Brigid Dawson was previously a member of the duo Mix Tape with Meric Long of The Dodos. She had been working in a coffee shop in San Francisco, and would frequently see Dwyer visit the shop and put up flyers for his upcoming shows. The two became fast friends, and Dwyer eventually asked Dawson to join the band after seeing one of her shows. Her role includes duet/backing vocals, keyboards, and tambourine. Dawson will occasionally perform lead vocals (in the cases of "Invitation" on Sucks Blood and "What Are We Craving?" on Castlemania).
As a trio, the band released The Cool Death of Island Raiders in 2006, their first release under the name The OhSees. The album was co-produced by TV on the Radio members Dave Sitek and Kyp Malone.
Petey Dammit! joined the group in 2007, as a bassist and occasionally second guitarist. Dammit was previously a member of the two-piece band Tres Ferocious. John Dwyer was familiar with the band's work, and asked him to join when he was looking to expand the lineup of The Ohsees. Dammit's bass playing uncharacteristically involves using an ordinary electric guitar that is fed through an electronic device that makes it sound like a bass guitar. His method of doing this is intentionally kept a secret. Dammit typically favors Fender Jazzmaster guitars for this task, but in Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion, he is also seen using a blue Italia Mondial without this manipulation, for songs that were not recorded with a bass guitar.
The album Sucks Blood followed in 2007. It would be the final studio album to feature Patrick Mullins, but he would appear later in the live DVD/album Thee Hounds Of Foggy Notion that was released in 2008. Mullins moved to Louisville, Kentucky and in 2010 he released a solo album called Don't Go To Sleep.
Jigmae Baer played for a year as the group's drummer after Mullins had left the band. He recorded with the band for their Tascam 388 recordings, as well as their sessions with Dave Sitek. His work can be heard on Sucks Blood, The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In, and various 7" and 10"s releases during this period. Baer went on to play with Ty Segall in both his solo act and in The Perverts. Baer then founded the Royal Baths and currently is a founding member of LODRO.
With the new four-piece lineup established, the scope of the band's music and success started to increase. The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In was released in 2008, under the name Thee Oh Sees. This album is also notable for being the first collaboration with Chris Woodhouse, a mix engineer and guest musician who would continue to appear on the albums that followed. The band released their album Help in 2009. This was their first album released on In the Red Records, the label for most of their main releases up until 2013. The album, Dog Poison, was also released this year, an acoustic take on the newer, more upbeat sound of the band.
Warm Slime arrived in 2010, following strongly in the footsteps of Help. The album's first side is dominated by the title track, their longest song to date, with a running time of 13:30. The song's long format and repetitive structure foreshadowed the krautrock influence that would become a larger part of their sound in the new decade.
On April 28, 2011, Patrick Mullins rejoined the band for a one-off performance at the Cafe Du Nord in their hometown of San Francisco. The band played songs from the albums 4 through The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In. Most of these songs had not been included in the setlists for some time.
The recording of 2011's Castlemania was solely undertaken by John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson and a series of other notable musicians. Petey Dammit and Mike Shoun would record on the year's latter album Carrion Crawler/The Dream along with new member Lars Finberg (from The Intelligence). Finberg joined as a full-time second drummer and second guitar player, but continues to lead and tour with The Intelligence. Dawson and Dwyer approached 2012's Putrifiers II in a similar manner as the group recorded Castlemania.
In 2013, "The Dream", from Carrion Crawler/The Dream was included in the soundtrack for the video game Grand Theft Auto V.
On April 16, 2013, The band released Floating Coffin. The album was released on Castle Face Records, a label that John Dwyer co-owns with Brian Lee Hughes and Matt Jones. The album was the first since The Master's Bedroom... to be self-released. Later that year, they released the Moon Sick EP, a collection of four songs from the Floating Coffin sessions that were excluded from the album. The EP was released as a benefit for Healthy San Francisco, a healthcare organization that had aided Dwyer and his friends over the years.
On December 18, 2013 during a show at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, Dwyer announced to the crowd "This will be the last Oh Sees show for a long while. So dig in."
In an interview with SF Weekly, the band's tour manager Annie Southworth confirmed the news, noting that Dwyer was looking to take some time off as he made the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She added, "They need a break after 5 years straight, so yes ... hiatus time. Will be a little hard to continue with all the different locales so who knows what is going to happen... Cross fingers, we all are that it's not completely over."
The statements led to rumors that the band was entering an indefinite hiatus, or breaking up. On December 20, 2013, the band cleared the rumors by posting on their official site that a new LP will be coming in early 2014, and "we will see where the live shows go from there." On February 12, it was announced that the album, entitled Drop, would be released on April 19 through Castle Face Records. It was created by John Dwyer and Chris Woodhouse, similar to the creation of previous Thee Oh Sees albums like Putrifiers II, Dog Poison, and Castlemania.
Brigid Dawson relocated to San Marin, CA, where she continues to paint and exhibit artwork. Mike Shoun & Petey Dammit have remained in the bay area. Dammit appeared as the bassist on Dylan Shearer's Empty Cellar Records/Castle Face release garagearray, released on April 15, 2014. In 2014, Dammit joined former member Lars Finberg's band, The Intelligence.
Since the dispersal of the band members, the band's live performances have been as a trio, with drummer Nick Murray, and bassist Timothy Hellman. Brigid Dawson's roles as a vocalist and keyboardist have not been filled. John Dwyer explained the reason for the latter in an interview with Uncut magazine: "The future of the band doesn't hold much keyboard, I want to go more guitar. I'll still record with a keyboard but I'm burned out with it live. I've been getting trapped into synthesizer land, I'm just surrounded by drum machines and keyboards while all my rock and roll stuff is in another studio." Brooklyn Vegan noted that while the band is currently touring as a trio, this should not be considered a permanent, "official" lineup change.
In 2015, however, the new line-up of the band entered the studio to record its fourteenth studio album, Mutilator Defeated At Last, with Brigid Dawson returning to the band as its backing vocalist. Following the album's release, drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon joined both Dwyer and Hellman in the band's live line-up. In February 2016, the band released a stand-alone single from the album's sessions, entitled "Fortress", and announced a live album, Live in San Francisco, from its accompanying tour, which was released on July 1, 2016.
With the core line-up solidifying into the four-piece of Dwyer, Hellman, Moutinho and Rincon, the band toured extensively, releasing a new single, "Plastic Plant", alongside an announcement that they'd be releasing a new album entitled A Weird Exits on August 12 of that year. A second album recorded during the same sessions, An Odd Entrances, was released on November 18, 2016. Two days prior to its release, Ryan Moutinho departed from the band, stating: "I'm not here to list reasons as they are personal and the list would be far too long. [...] Thank you for coming to the shows and giving every ounce of energy to us. I promise I tried my very best to give it back in return. I don't see this as closing old doors but opening new ones." In January 2017, drummer Paul Quattrone (!!!, Modey Lemon) joined the band onstage for two benefit shows at the Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles.
On August 28, 2017, Dwyer announced that the title of the band had yet again changed back to the original moniker of OCS, and released the track "Memory of a Cut Off Head" from the similarly titled album, due out November 17, as the 100th record on Castle Face. The band made it clear that this was a one time name for this album only, and returned to the lineup of Dwyer and Dawson, as well as returning back to their original hushed sound.
On December 28, 2017, the band announced the return to Oh Sees, and a new EP, Dead Medic, consisting of two long tracks from the Orc sessions, including a cover of "A Few Days of Reflection" by the Swedish Band Trd, Grs, och Stenar
On May 21, 2018, the band released a track entitled "Overthrown" from their upcoming record Smote Reverser, which will be released on August 17, 2018. In addition the band announced an expansion to their on-going tour.
In a September 2012 interview with New York Music News, Petey Dammit explained the band's philosophy on recording:
We work hard. I think it seems strange for us to release so many records because of the tradition in the recording industry to do things a certain way. For decades it has been months and months in the studio, one release a year, tour this, tour that, do this, do that... We just do what we want to do. Most of the songs have been worked out by the time we get to the studio so we can record them all live in two days. The other two days in the studio are having fun writing on the spot and having fun.
Current studio contributors
Released as OCS
Released as The Oh Sees
Released as Thee Oh Sees
Released as Oh Sees