Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Psychopedia Feature: Thee Oh Sees

Feature for Psychopedia on John Dwyers latest incarnation.

Venue Road Test: Café Oto Dalston
Thee Oh Sees Like Cakes & Good People

You know John Dwyer. You might think that you don’t know John Dwyer but you do. Did you ever dig the lo-fi garage rock and weird vocal distortion of the Coachwhips ( A John Dwyer band. Did you ever loose your shit down the front of a Hospitals ( gig? Dwyer again. Remember those weirdoes in ski masks interviewed at the beginning of Lighning Bolt’s The Power Of Salad DVD? They were called Pink and Brown ( and yes, Dwyer was one of them. Go further back than that and Dwyer was also involved in the most seminal of all the seminal bands that seminal Providence label, Load Records has ever (seminaly) put out: the mighty Burmese ( Throw in stints with early Fort Thunder act Landed (, Germanic techno act Zeigenbock Kopf ( and Troggs covers outfit The Trawggs and it’s easy to see that Dwyer is pretty into making garage-rock influenced rackets and not at all into standing still for a second. Ever.

It came then as a slight surprise when he emerged with the gentle folk of OCS. Maybe it was the move to San Francisco from Providence (OCS stood for Orange County Sound) but this was an altogether quieter Dwyer the world was witnessing. However, like a kid pretending to be grown up for a week and failing OCS swiftly mutated into Thee Oh Sees (, jumped ship from Narnack to German label Tomlab and started getting loose all over again. Thee Oh Sees’ The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In should, in a just world, be sitting tall on the top of end of year lists everywhere. It combines all elements of Dwyers restless past into an impulsive and petulanty coherent whole.

Beyond Shoreditch, venues that consistently put on shows of any quality in deeper East London are few and far between. In fact if you aren’t watching a band in Bardens Boudoir it is highly likely that you won’t be watching a band at all. With this in mind it was with great hope that East London residents welcomed the opening of council funded venue Café Oto which popped up out of nowhere behind Dalston-Kingsland station. With a string of great gigs sprawling into the near future thanks to the ever reliable Upset The Rhythm collective ( we caught up with Thee Oh Sees on a sunny late May evening to talk venues, cake and organic beer.

Psychopedia: So how does Dalston compare to San Francisco?
John Dwyer (guitar, vocals): Right now Dalston is nice. We are just sitting out here on the curb in the sun drinking coffee.
Petey Dammit (guitar, vocals): In fact this is probably exactly what we would be doing if we were in San Francisco right now.
Mike Shoun (drums): You would probably actually be asleep.
Petey: Oh yeah, jet lag is a bitch. All those timezones. Man my head can’t keep up.

You have played a bunch of other European shows. How were the venues over on the mainland?
John: On this particular tour they have all been fairly standard but with other bands I’ve played with I’ve played everywhere: you name it. Squats where the punks want your blood, pool tables, beer halls, caves. Wherever we could get power.

Did any particular venue stand out?
John: It sounds awful but they all kind of merge into one.
Petey: We had a great show in our practice space in San Francisco recently though does that count as a venue?

Mike: It was great. It was Brigid’s birthday. We were practicing and we had everything planned so that mid-practice all her friends burst in and surprised her.
Brigid (vocals): I was pretty scared. In a good way.

OK, back to this place. Oto means sound in Japanese. Did you know that?
John: No but I do now.
Petey: I see what they did there.

There is a full range of Organic beers and Ciders here. How are you finding them?
Petey: What is that one you are drinking?

Bayeuax Cider.
Petey: I like the label with the Bayeaux Tapestry painting but it costs like five pounds. I’m sticking to coffee.
John: Yeah, the coffee is excellent. It reminds me of the coffee in this little SF joint where we used to go and bum out and drink cup after cup and smoke a whole bunch of cigarettes or whatever.

You can’t smoke indoors in the UK anymore.
John: They are weird about it in the US, Some venues just turn a blind eye. I can imagine it must suck bumming smokes in the winter here?

It can get pretty cold. What do you think of this beer? It’s called Bretton and it’s so organic it has loads of sediment in it.
Petey: I’m not into that. It looks like mud in beer. They serve Kronenberg and Beck too. We are gonna get a bunch of that in later.
John: The coffee is great though, I want to stress that. And you can always drink coffee. Beer is sometimes just not feasible but coffee? Always.

How about the space itself?
John: I really like it. It is super simple. Just a nice square white box. Everything has slight sense of DIY to it. Like the guy DJing has his turntables on top of a vintage sled. Sled? Sleigh? I’m not sure the proper term but one of those rickety old wooden things.
Petey: They also haven’t started doing food yet. Can we come back and play again when they are doing cakes? They say the cakes are coming. That sounds good.
John: Yep, good cakes and good people. That is all you need. The people here seem great, the promoters, the kids, the local guys. I mean, people told me this place was rough but it’s been great. The people are amazing. We just need those cakes now

Cafe OTO
18-22 Ashwin St
E8 3DL

No comments: