If timing is indeed everything, it has never been more perfect than right now for Orange County’s Over It. Riding a wave of great press and a shiny new record, this power-packed punk outfit has risen to heights only hinted at on their previous work. Silverstrand is more about a journey- a reflection of sorts. And as guitarist Nick Bailey explains, the band’s enthusiasm and energy couldn’t peak at a better time. Over It are outgrowing their boundaries as their present quickly becomes their future. They set simple goals at the start, but now have the stars to aim for.
Silverstrand has seen its share of delays and obstacles. With the album now finished, how does it feel to see the light at the end of tunnel so to speak?
Bailey: We are stoked! It feels amazing to be all finished. It’s always exciting to release an album but this one means a lot because we’ve stepped up all our efforts to try and make this the best release yet!
Were the delays and setbacks worth it and are you completely satisfied with the finished product?
Bailey: Totally! It does feel a little overdue because mentally we were ready to release in the fall but this did give us more time to focus our energy and try to really breakthrough with this one.
Were things made more complicated by the business?
Bailey: Yes and no. We have learned way more about the business side of it all and that has caused a few complications, but at the same time I think it’s important to experience that and this record wouldn’t be the same without all we have learned.
Was the approach to this album any different from your previous albums in terms of the process from start to finish?
Bailey: Actually this one felt more organized. We got to spend more time on pre-production, which really helped. We also went into this with way more ideas on the music side and the marketing side. We are super amped to have a street team and more funding to help advertise online and on the streets. This is a huge difference and we can’t wait to live it all out!
Your previous full-length, Timing Is Everything was such a breath of fresh air at a time when many bands were attempting that pop element, but you guys managed to pull it off better than anyone else. Are you guys worried at all, that you will never top that album in terms of quality and success?
Bailey: Thank you! [We’re] not worried. As we mature as musicians and people, I think our songwriting will only get better. We love to write and that will only help the quality of music. Plus, the more we are out touring, writing music and releasing records it will show kids what we are all about and hopefully allow us to gain more success.
Maybe that’s the way it should be, that any band’s earlier material is essentially the most honest and down to earth- something you can’t re-create.
Bailey: The music should always be honest no matter where you are in your career. I think honesty is something we will always have in our music. Our previous work just helps us learn how to deliver that element of honesty in new ways.
Does Silverstrand pack that same punch and power of emotion as your previous releases?
Bailey: Yes, I think if you liked Timing is Everything, you will like Silverstrand. We tried to go for more of a range in our songwriting this time in hopes to maximize the emotion that’s let out. I’d like to think this one packs a pretty solid punch.
You guys clearly have a strong element of pop flavor built into your music, yet you guys seem to avoid the criticism that most bands receive. Why is that do you think?
Bailey: Hmm, maybe because we are just ourselves. I don’t think you can listen to our music and say that sounds like this band or they stole that from. I mean we have tons of influences but we try to be as original as possible, always writing songs in our own way. We don’t follow anyone else’s formula, just our own.
The internet has been such an amazing tool for you guys. If the internet didn’t exist, do you think you guys would be in the same spot you are now as a band?
Bailey: I’d like to think so, I mean the Internet is huge but I think our work ethic and efforts go beyond that so we would just find other ways to hype it up. We wouldn’t give up until we found ways for people to hear us that’s for sure.
You’ve also have been exposed to the bad aspects of the internet as Silverstand was leaked on the web months ago. Does it worry you that album sales might suffer because of this?
Bailey: That’s a tough one. It kind of goes both ways, I mean, sure maybe we could sell a few more records if someone hadn’t gotten it online but at the same time we just want to be heard. If someone puts our album online and that gives some kid the opportunity to hear us when he or she may never have, then we back it. I don’t think it can really hurt us as long as people like what they hear and come out to our shows; we support the internet getting our music out there.
Is there any way of getting around the negative aspects of the internet when you’re using it so much as a promotional tool for the band? Is it a double-edged sword so to speak?
Bailey: Yeah it kind of is, I think there will always be a negative side. Not everyone will like our songs but really that’s ok. We don’t expect everyone too. Actually, it’s kind of a good thing in a way because for every person that wants to talk shit, then you know there are even more people that are stoked. We’re not too worried about it.
The artwork and layout of the album- what’s the story behind the theme?
Bailey: The layout is based on a journey. Much like the inspiration behind a lot of the songs the art is the visual representation of all the traveling we have done that inspires us. We really wanted to focus on the move out to California so the layout depicts everything along the way. We are really happy with the way everything came together. I think we united our love for the east coast, the west coast and everything in between.
A while back you guys recorded an acoustic split CD with Junction 18. Any plans to release any more acoustic songs in the future?
Bailey: We have more acoustic songs recorded and more yet to be recorded. We love doing acoustic stuff and plan to release some of the songs later this year along with some b-sides.
How has constant life on the road helped shape and mold the band?
Bailey: We would not be the people we are or the songwriters we are without all the tour experience. Being on the road has been very moral shaping and very valuable for us all. It really helps you put the world and your own life into perspective.
What about individually? How challenging is it to be on the road all the time?
Bailey: It can be very difficult sometimes especially when you are away from family, friends and loved ones. You really have to learn to let the bad in with the good. I know we have all felt like breaking down on tour but really it only makes you stronger. Besides, the sweet just ain’t as sweet without the sour.
You’re receiving interest from major labels and actually were close to signing with a major. Do you guys plan to sign with a major or stay with Lobster?
Bailey: As much as we love Lobster, this will be our last record with them. We are not sure of future label plans just yet but we should have a much better idea as the year moves forward. We are very excited about what is to come.
Several years ago, you guys were in college and decided to put that on hold to pursue your goals as a band. Talk about never looking back- that must feel pretty good, no?
Bailey: We all made a sacrifice and decided to put off school. I think school is important but at the same time we knew the music business is too demanding and we couldn’t do both. We had to follow our hearts this time. It feels good to be where we are but I don’t think it’s a never look back type situation. Some of us could still end up in a learning environment but certainly not till Over It has lived out all our hopes and dreams.
Everything Will Be Alright: An interview with Ogikubo Station
There is great joy in simple chords and simple melodies. It is, after all, the feeling of comfort that these things often bring. Comfort from the day’s burdens, comfort from the issues that disappoint us, comfort when the sunsets bring us joy. Ogikubo Station, the music project of Maura Weaver (of Ohio punks Mixtapes) and Mike Park (of Asian Man Records), is that kind of comfort. It is music that makes us think of the week we’ve just had, music that makes us want to do better in our every day, and music that makes us laugh, cry, and sing-a-long.
Fresh off the release of a new 7” EP Okinawan Love Songs, we chat to Maura and Mike about the new songs, making music from distances, and how Ogikubo Station came to be. The chat was a reminder that music can be the result of many things and many reasons. Some simple, some more complicated. It was also a reminder that if we’ve got the music, then maybe, just maybe, everything will be alright in the end.
You released your full length We Can Pretend Like last year- was there a catalyst that sparked getting back into the writing and recording again so quickly?
Maura: I think Mike just called me and said do you want to come out to California and do some songwriting, and then while I was out there he booked two days in the studio and said “Guess what? We’re gonna record a 7 inch.”
Mike: Is that what happened? Haha. I can’t remember. I know we had “Would I Break My Heart Enough For You” written and we were playing it live, so I thought “let’s just add a couple more songs and release a fun 7 inch.”
Did you write these songs the same way you’ve written in the past; from a distance?
Mike: Not this time. Since it was only a few songs we just rehearsed for a day and then recorded.
Does that process ever get easier, being quite far apart?
Maura: Not really. I prefer being able to collaborate in person and I believe that’s the plan for the next record. We started writing 4 new songs aside from what’s on this 7 inch to go towards the next Ogikubo full length.
Mike: Yeah, it’s not the best case scenario, but I’ve been doing with a lot of different projects over the years. Sending mixes and vocal parts and asking various friends to guest on records, so it’s not that bad actually.
How was having Dan (Andriano) play bass on this EP? Will you be working with him again in the future?
Mike: I’ve known Dan since he was a teenager, so I just called him and said “Dan, I’m gonna send you a couple of songs for you to play bass on” and he was like “okay”. He has his own home studio and he’s kind of a gear head, so I knew it would be easy for him to do. I’d love to do more stuff with him, but I guess we’ll see.
Maura: Heck yes! I’ve been an Alkaline Trio fan since I was 14, so this is all kind of geeking out excitement for me.
For those who are new to Ogikubo Station – tell us how you ended up collaborating together?
Mike: Maura, you want to tell it?
Maura: Sure. So I was visiting the San Francisco/Oakland area where my sister lives and we were hanging out with my friend Danielle Bailey who is also friends with Mike. Danny had posted some photos of us hanging and Mike called Danny and said: “ask Maura if she would record a song with me”. So we drove to San Jose and we recorded a song called “Weak Souls Walk Around Here” and that was it. Just a one-time thing.
Mike: And at that time I believe I told Maura I’d like to put out her solo album and so for the next 2 years I would bug her every couple months to see how it was going and she would say “oh, I’m still working on it”. And then I finally said “hey, let’s start a project together” and thus Ogikubo Station was born.
How many bands are you in now Mike?
Mike: Kitty Kat Fan Club, Ogikubo Station, Bruce Lee Band …are the only ones that play, but I’m working on a couple of new projects. Always doing music.
Maura, how different has it been with Ogikubo Station than say, writing and recording with Mixtapes? Do the different processes give you new ways to write and approach songwriting?
Maura: I guess the biggest difference is the distance factor and that Ogikubo is not a full-time band. Mixtapes was my first real band and it was at a time in my life when everything was a first. First tour, first record, first van, the first van breaking down. I was still in my teens with Mixtapes and we all lived in Cincinnati. So it’s very different with Ogikubo. It’s hard to explain fully, but both bands have definitely been influential in different ways. But the basic idea of writing a melody over a strummed guitar chord is the same no matter the situation.
I love the TMBG cover on the new EP, and the fact that you chose to keep it lo-fi—what are some of the other bands you say would have directly led to the music and songwriting of Ogikubo Station?
Mike: I guess I’ve been listening to a lot of 80’s bands as of late and just kind of falling in love again with bands like Hoodoo Gurus, the Replacements, REM, and then newer bands like ALVVAYS, PUP, and Laura Stevenson. I’m always just looking for a good melody and some lyrics that aren’t filler bullshit.
Maura: I listen to so much music. From Kate Bush, TMBG, Desmond Dekker, Operation Ivy, to Beyonce and Taylor Swift. It’s hard to say what influences Ogikubo Station, but those are some bands I’ve been listening to lately.
Mike, I know on Twitter recently you’ve expressed your frustration and anger at a lot of the political things that are happening in the US (hopefully that’s not the cause of those grey hairs!) – but as songwriters, do you feel that it’s more important than ever to provide listeners with fuel to fight for equality and kindness, or do you feel that its just as important to provide an escape through music?
Mike: I’ve always felt music is political even when you aren’t trying to make it political. The sounds fuel the soul, creates the body to move and puts you in moods that you may not even realise are happening. Music has been my solace when it comes to expression and emotion. An outlet to get my ideas across in an artistic and productive manner. I don’t feel it’s imperative to be overtly political. I try not to shove politics down your throat, but if something comes to mind and I write about it and it happens to be classified as political, so be it.
Maura, you did the artwork for the new EP, an illustration of your Okinawan grandmother. The art is beautiful, can you tell us a little bit about your art and how you came into illustrating?
Maura: I’ve always enjoyed illustrating and painting. Creating art: With a guitar or a brush or a pen/ pencil. I wanted to draw my grandmother and give it to her as a present. When Mike saw the drawing he asked if we could use it for the 7-inch cover. It wasn’t meant to be the cover, but after mike brought it up I said of course.
What are some of the things you’re looking forward to on this UK tour? You guys are going all over England, and then to Wales, and then Scotland.
Mike: Sadly I’m not going on the tour this time due to some hearing damage I have sustained, but I’m still going to Brighton for a wedding, so I will be there for 3 days. And I’ll try to do every stereotypical British thing. TEA/MILK/FISH/CHIPS/MUSHY PEAS.
Maura: Getting to travel with my best friend Megan is the most exciting part of this UK tour. She’s never been before and that makes it that much more special being able to share this experience together. We are both Vegan/Vegetarian and one of our favorite things to do is eat, so we’ll checking out the different vegan spots in every city. And just meeting new friends, seeing old friends, and Edinburgh. I can’t wait to go to Edinburgh.
Is there a new full length on the horizon?
Mike: I’d like to work on one next year. I’m tapped out for this year. I’m gonna work on some new Bruce Lee Band stuff next and then I have a couple of other collaborations, but hopefully sometime next year we can start the process for the next full length.
Maura: That sounds good to me. It will give me a chance to keep writing songs.