FERAL OHMS – Lucky 7
LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…
Today, it’s the turn of the captain caveman psych power triptych from Oakland, led by ex Comets On Fire and current Howlin’ Rain frontman Ethan Miller – it’s Feral Ohms!
Last year they put out a blazing live set as part of the Castle Face “Live In San Francisco” range, and in a couple of weeks they are about to unleash their awesome debut album (one of my albums of the year already)…
but first here’s some explosive music that makes them tick (tick, boom). Over to Ethan and co…
1. Melvins – Eye Flys
Kevin Hoffmeister was a big dude. Three years older and seemingly three feet taller than me at the age of 13, or should I say the age of confusion, he was like the big brother I didn’t have, the one who showed up at my annual christian summer camp out of the blue to deliver a dubbed cassette tape with music he wanted me to hear.
In an attempt to evade the hawkish eyes of our camp counselor he pulled me around the corner, leaned over and said with a determined glare in his eyes: “When you listen to this, don’t think of Toad Liquor but think of how much your mom loves you.” His words left me in a sort of undefined state between arousal and angst until I got home and pushed the play button to embark on a journey that should last 6 mins and 16 seconds, yet somehow never ended.
Thunderous foreboding drums guided by the power of the slowest bass riff and an ever building suspense creeping in through sustained feedback and screeching guitar sounds, let me to instantly believe that “Eye Flys” by the Melvins was what I wanted music to be. By the time I was told “to prove that you’re able, to be brave”, I thought I had grasped, however cursory, the meaning of enlightenment, and most certainly knew that God, Jesus, and the Angels were no longer with me.
2. Shinki Chen – ‘Requiem of Confusion’
This album is really gets me off. Blew the speakers in my van to this one driving over the bay bridge.
A few weeks later Ethan and I had our first serendipitous encounter at a rehearsal space in Oakland, which, in hindsight, could be considered the very tender beginnings of what later became Feral Ohms. After some introductory chit-chat I committed a great act of flattery by telling Ethan that his Comets on Fire vocals bore an uncanny resemblance with the prodigious Shinki Chen and His Friends album and it was on that occasion that this record became a common ground on which we still tread to this day.
3. Big Black – Ergot
Since it’s impossible for me to choose favorite songs, I’ll pick two bands that got me sent home from high school by wearing their t-shirts. First up is Big Black. I used to blast this is my Plymouth Champ thinking I was really cool. Cooler than anyone in Arroyo Grande CA at least.
4. Dwarves – Fuck You Up And Get High
Then next is the Dwarves. I used to crank this one at my high school parking lot in my Plymouth Champ. Anything to piss people off was my goal in life. And this provided a great soundtrack. These aren’t my favorite songs but they’re two bands that I used to listen and look up to in my developing years.
5. Grand Funk – Please Don’t Worry
This whole album is one of the all time greats and I could have chosen any song on here. The first song would have been great too but it’s the second song where you go “Oh shit, this thing isn’t stopping- it’s picking up steam!!!” and again on the 3rd and 4th song and on and on and by the time you flip the first side you’re totaled with heavy jams joy. It’s one of the great blue prints for the power trio. Enormous bass. Maybe one of the biggest bass sounds in any rock album mix ever.
This album is such a raw, huge beautiful example of masculine music. It’s not mean or reflective or self conscious, it just sounds like a strapping caveman dancing around in Eden, ya know? These days what is masculine music? What does that mean now? It’s something most people try to avoid I think because music (and the world in general) is overwrought with masculinity at it’s worst and usually from an entitled and a dominant or power perspective. But what does it mean to tap testosterone and have a natural result in art and creativity now? I don’t know the answer. I do think it’s part of the Feral Ohms musical conversation, to make masculine music that isn’t negative for that quality, to express positive joy from a well spring of testosterone.
6. High Rise—Psychedelic Speed Freaks.
No brainer. What can you say. Another ultimate power trio jam and lesson in wah-wah.
Lucky #7: Feral Ohms, “Super Ape” from Live In San Francisco.
I chose this one because I was shocked to hear what Chris’ drums sounded like on this song for the first time. In practice, on stage, in almost every setting the amps are so loud that all I’d ever heard from a band member perspective was the pulsing riff of the bass and guitar just exploding around us and filling every bit of air in the room. John Dwyer seems to love a loud kick drum in the mix and that’s something that’s pretty consistent in the Live in SF series, because of that it was a bit of a revelation to hear all the great and wild stuff Chris plays on this song when I heard the live record for the first time!
And if you’re an Ethan / Feral Ohms fan, check out this full interview with Mr. Miller from earlier this year…
THANKS TO ETHAN, AND TO LUCY FROM FORTE MUSIC DISTRIBUTION
“Feral Ohms” is out on Ethan’s Silver Current label, on 31st March