“Seriously? Another band with Owl in the name?” was my exact thought when Owl Fly South took the stage at The Satellite the first time I saw them. But after their short set, that thought was quickly annihilated from my memory via their irregular, funky set. It’s rare that you can judge a band by a tribute show, especially considering they’re not playing their original material, but there was something special about this band. The expert wielding of their instruments and the energy they radiated off the stage in 10 minutes surpassed nearly all of the other bands who played that night. I was able to see OFS a couple more times playing their original material, and I was absolutely floored. They easily keep your attention not only through the ever-evolving tunes, but their stage presence makes you feel like you’re watching them channel something beyond your musical comprehension. Their tunes are a mixed bag of every genre you could possibly think of, from 50’s classic rock n roll tunes to electro fueled psychedelic tunes and beyond. I’m not even talking track to track, I’m talking that range within one single song.
There are two songs available from OFS for your listening pleasure currently, more are on the way, and they definitely have quite the catalog live. The two tunes they have up for listening are:
“Blink (Incandescent Days)”- In its most basic description this song is comprised of spacey vocals, metallic beats, and constant effectual additions to keep your hearing heightened and brain engaged. The song title references the word ‘incandescent’ and that title fits perfectly. Why? Because if you know the dictionary definition of incandescent (1. Emitting visible light as a result of being heated. 2. Shining brilliantly.) this song is crafted to be the epitome of shiny. It seems as if every guitar strum, pedal chosen, drum tap, bass riff and every other effect added, just builds this song to its brilliant climax. The vocals of this tune are not the necessarily the focus but a catalyst in moving the instrumentals along, adding another layer to the overall incandescence.
“Castle (Amplified Prayer)”- This song is what I think I’ll dub ADD in musical format, which is a good thing in OFS’s case. This tune will trick you into thinking in the beginning that its a classic-ish jazz tune until about a minute in, where it switches gears and goes into more piano driven, classic rock. This song is something like if Duke Ellington married MGMT and maybe they had a dinner party with The Beatles. The tune morphs so rapidly, yet so seamlessly you forget that its all one tune.
Basically, what I can tell you about OFS from these tunes and what I’ve seen live is they are a band that has mechanics/composition down better than many bands I’ve seen. These guys get how to really create a piece of music that makes you think and engages all of your senses.
The gentlemen of OFS invited BBB into their rehearsal space not too long ago and answered a few questions for BBB. Read on to find out what they feel the biggest pressure for a band is, their thoughts on the current UCLA music scene, and which ‘Parks and Rec’ character each member is.
When and why did each of you start playing music?
Baxter- I started playing piano when I was 15, my friend taught me “Clocks” by Coldplay, that was it for me.
Braeden- It was Kid Rock for me.
Jake- I was playing ‘Legend of Zelda 64’ and there’s a musical element to it. I had an old Casio and I just figured the songs out.
Oliver- After hearing those, I probably have the most traditional route, I have two musicians for parents. Both my parents are professors of music, so I just kind of got raised in a very musical environment.
How did you all meet? I read somewhere you’re all UCLA students, is that right?
Baxter- Yup, that’s right.
Braeden- Yeah, all three of us (Jake, Oliver, Braeden) met our very first year in our very first class together. He was a transfer student (Baxter).
How does your creative process typically work?
Oliver- It looks like that (Points at whiteboard with all kinds of pieces of musical writing on it).
Braeden- I write songs on my bed, make a terrible demo on Garage Band, and then bring it in and show these guys. The songs completely change based on their musical ideas.
Baxter- Yeah, we just kind of contribute our own ideas related to our own instrument. The song totally evolves from there.
Why the name Owl Fly South?
Oliver- We don’t know.
Braeden- You probably get that answer a lot right? The real answer is…you need to name a band something. It guaranteed there won’t be two Owl Fly South. I also play with Torches and there are like three Torches.
How would you describe your show for someone who has never been?
Baxter- Diverse. We have a lot of different stuff going on visually and musically.
Braeden- All of us have our hands full for sure, Baxter is always playing with three limbs at once, Oliver sings and plays drums at the same time, and I’m like tap dancing on my pedals, Jake just dances and looks pretty.
Jake- It’s a struggle.
Braeden- There are a lot of different sounds coming at you at once, it’s in constant flux. There is never more than 10 seconds with the same soundscape. Baxter is always tapping some button to change the sound, I’m always tapping something on my pedal board, Oliver is playing from soft to blisteringly loud, its just constant change.
How is the UCLA music scene? I’ve heard good things recently.
Oliver- It’s in a transition period right now. I feel like a lot of good musicians just graduated. We’re all a little biased because we’re form the music program. There used to be a lot of good musicians who played in bands together and did a lot of house shows and house parties, and that’s how the scene developed. We were kind of on the outskirts of that for a while and then actually now we’re getting back into it. We’re making friends with the student organizations and playing house parties and stuff like that.
Braeden- I totally agree with what Oliver is saying, the really popular and really honed bands just graduated. But all those bands are now trying to make it in the larger LA scene, like The Ten Thousand, etc.
What’s coming up for you guys?
Braeden- We have a single out there now and half of our debut full-length is recorded. We’re saving funds to record the second half because we want to do it right. Right now we’re spending a lot of time writing and meticulously arranging songs and screaming at each other. Should be out February or March we’re hoping.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Jake- Where the money is going, more support for the artists.
Braeden- The hardest part of this question is the word ‘one’. I think one of the hardest things for our band has been the pressure is on the band to bring the audience. I feel like when the Rolling Stones and Beatles were in it, people would go out just to see music. Now its, “Bring as many of your friends as you can so you can show people that you already have a lot of friends.” It’s almost a popularity contest.
What is one song you never get tired of listening to?
Braeden- “Born to Run”- Bruce Springsteen
Oliver- “Something”- The Beatles
Baxter- “Styrofoam Plates”- Death Cab for Cutie
Jake- “Optimistic”- Radiohead
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Braeden- Arcade Fire at The Shrine Auditorium
Jake- Modest Mouse at Sasquatch
Baxter- Radiohead at Outside Lands 2008
Oliver- I think it’s a tie between Rage Against The Machine in Paris and Radiohead at Coachella 2012.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Braeden- ‘Parks and Rec’
Jake- Read ‘Game of Thrones’.
Baxter- I’ve been catching up on TV, just started Game of Thrones.
If you could be a fictional character who would you be?
Oliver- We did ‘Parks and Rec’ characters recently in here during practice. We discussed who we were.
Baxter- I ended up being Ann.
Braeden- I’m the Leslie Knope.
Jake- I’m Ron Swanson.
Oliver- I’m April Ludgate.
Braeden- I would like to be Fox Mulder from X-Files though.
Oliver- I would probably be The Dude.
Braeden-We also joke and say Baxter is Jon Hamm from ’30 Rock’ because he’s the attractive one.
Jake- Brick Tamlan because I’m freezing up right now.
If you ran BBB, what are some bands you would feature?
Oliver- Well, who haven’t you featured?
Alto, Jeffertitti’s Nile, Torches, The Ten Thousand
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