It’s common knowledge that the internet is a very powerful tool in today’s culture. It gives a public voice to people, and it can make a band’s career. Orange County rock band Over It knows the power the internet can have in shaping a band’s career. Their praises consistently appear on influential webzines such as AbsolutePunk, PastePunk and the now defunct PunkRocks.
“I think the association is amazing,” says Nick Bailey, guitarist of Over It. “The internet is such a great way to promote our band, and we are so stoked to have our name out there!”
The consistent praise from the internet community has helped Over It rise throughout the ranks of the underground rock community with each subsequent release. Noticing their rise was Virgin Records, who offered to put out the band’s next record. “We could sense that everything we wanted for the band Virgin could help us achieve,” says Bailey. “We want everyone to feel good about themselves when they listen to Over It, and Virgin gives us the means for those people to hear our music.”
Coming from a community with roots in punk rock philosophy, Over It’s decision to move from an independent label, Lobster, to a major label, let alone a major label that features Korn, Janet Jackson, and Lenny Kravitz, is always a move that is sure to be met with accusations of “selling out” from message board pundits.
“What is selling out?” asks Bailey. “We will always stay true to ourselves, our fans, and our music. Keeping it real is the only way to roll so the option of selling out just doesn’t exist for us.
“Elvis Costello said it best, what’s more punk rock? To spend your best friends’ money putting out records ‘till he’s broke, or spend the corporate dollar putting out records and hooking your best friends up?” says Bailey.
Not letting the politics of signing to a major label bother them, Over It went into the studio to create Step Outside Yourself, their fourth full-length record. The record takes its title from the difficult experiences the band endured while recording.
“While we were working on the album we all had so many obstacles, both personally and musically to overcome,” says Bailey. “We found the best way to get through is to step outside of yourself and put life in perspective … personally, I lost my grandpa during the recording process which hit me pretty hard. I know that death is a fact of life, but it was such an unusual sensation to feel so blessed to [be] able to live out my dreams in music, while at the same time I was away from a dying loved one.”
The personal turmoil Over It faced during the recording process seems to have sparked a creative bloom in the band. Step Outside Yourself finds the band incorporating a variety of different elements into their distinctive melodic punk sound, both musically and lyrically. “We wanted a range of songs to pay tribute to all the influences we have from jazz and classical to rock and metal,” says Bailey. “Lyrically we wanted to have more focused topics from racism, to singing about our favorite TV show Lost.”
While expanding their musical palate on Step Outside Yourself, Over It retains their distinctive ability to wrap their adrenaline-injected songs with an extremely catchy hook, which will surely delight long time fans. Fans of Over It will also enjoy the re-recorded version of “Siren on the 101” from last year’s Silverstrand. “Our team at Virgin felt very strongly about having this song on the album, and we still love playing the song live so it was no worries to re-record,” says Bailey.
Over It also added another member to their line-up during the time between Silverstrand and Step Outside Yourself, Ryan Ogren, former lead singer of Don’t Look Down. “We are so stoked to have Ryan in the band,” says Bailey. “Not only is he a best friend of ours but a musical genius as well, so it brings a new dynamic to the songwriting and the live show. Having Ryan gives Pete [Munters, lead singer/guitar] more freedom to put down his guitar and sing, and Ryan also plays piano … we can’t wait to work that into our live show. The piano is definitely something we will be experimenting with more and more,” says Bailey.
Whether Over It’s success with the internet webzines and the underground can translate into the type of mainstream success that Virgin might be hoping for is yet to be seen, but whatever success or lack thereof happens to Over It, it’s probably not going to bother them too much.
“You gotta let the bad in with the good,” says Bailey. “Life is what you make of it, so step outside yourself and enjoy the ride!”
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.