Two years after their formation, Canadian outfit ONI have burst onto the modern metal scene. With their debut release, Ironshore, under their belts (read our review here) the band are now looking to make a lasting impression with their progressive and technical flourish. We caught up with vocalist Jake Oni, bassist Chase Bryant, drummer Joe Greulich and Xylo-synth player Johnny D to talk about Ironshore, the band’s wide range of influences and what fans can expect from the band’s upcoming UK performances with DEVIL YOU KNOW.
Your debut record, Ironshore, has just come out. How have you found the reception to your debut?
Jake: It’s been awesome. I was so surprised to see our album ranked number 14 on the iTunes metal charts the first night it came out. We’ve been reading some great reviews online and it’s interesting to hear what the reviewers think our influences are.
Chase: It’s been exciting. We are a brand new band and we didn’t know what to expect. It’s been overwhelming to see such a positive response.
You have a very technical approach to your song-writing and overall sound. What influences do you look to for inspiration?
Jake: It’s so vast. It varies so much between the six of us.
Chase: I like to try to take a jazz riff, put it over odd meter drums and then try to make it as metal/heavy as possible to camouflage it as best I can so no one knows I am stealing it. All those old jazz dudes always stole from each other anyway.
Joe: RUSH, definitely. It’s the basis of where my writing comes from. Then my writing stems into stuff like DREAM THEATER and SYMPHONY X. But when I am writing more melodic content, because I write guitar and synth parts too, I take a lot of influence from John Williams, the film composer, and classical composers like Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.
What themes, messages and concepts are presented on Ironshore?
Jake: All the songs are about different stuff. There wasn’t really one theme for the whole record.
Chase: The lyrics to Barn burner was a dream I had about the multiverse.
Jake: Chasing Ecstasy was about me picking up Chase while he was doing acid on the beach.
Chase: It was a great day until the mosquitoes came out.
Jake: Spawn and Feed is about parasites and insects. Earwigs planting eggs in your brain. Spiders and other creepy crawlers crawling out of your eyes, ears and nose.
Can you describe the writing and recording process for Ironshore?
Chase: The whole album was a massive collaboration between all six members. We demoed the songs we had, made our edits and went straight into the studio. Tracked strings, then John’s synth solos, then drums, then vocals.
Is there anything you would have approached differently?
Jake: Ideally, I would have liked to have another three songs on Ironshore.
How was it working with Josh Wilbur?
Jake: It was amazing. He really challenged us to be our best.
Joe: He was instrumental in forming the structure of some of the songs. He’s a lot of fun; good vibes, good energy, we didn’t feel any pressure working with him. He has a collaborative mindset.
Johnny: His collaborative approach worked well with us since we have six members who all work together to write. We knew if we trusted him the album would turn out great.
Do you feel your singles (Eternal Recurrence and Barn Burner) have been well received so far?
Jake: Yes. I do. Especially Johnny’s playthrough on the xylosynth of Barn Burner.
With this being your debut album do you feel there is a lot of pressure to provide an instant impression?
Johnny: Yes and no. First impressions are very important. But our attitude is, it doesn’t matter what people think, we’re going to keep playing, we’re going to make a second album.
And now that the record is finally out, what are you hoping to achieve with Ironshore?
Johnny: We don’t have any expectations. We just want to keep playing shows and making albums.
Jake: We just want as many people to listen to it as possible.
When the band was first formed, for you Jake, you stated your aim for ONI was “to be the band I never got to see.” Can you elaborate on what this means and what steps you have taken to craft this vision into reality?
Jake: We just wanted to make original metal that combined the best of many worlds: the technicality of the shred bands we love with the attitude and aggression of thrash and nu metal bands. At the same time, we wanted to put it all in a contemporary light, to sound like a modern band.
You have a supporting run with DEVIL YOU KNOW here in the UK in January. What can people expect from your live performances?
Jake: You can expect us to throw down and shred super hard. Our sound contrasts and complements theirs, our bands don’t really sound the same.
Johnny: Both bands love being on stage. In the end, it will be a good time for both the bands and the fans.
What shows are you looking forward to the most?
Jake: I am looking forward to the show at The Underworld in London.
Chase: Jake and our guitar player, Brandon, lived in London for a while so they’re really looking forward to that show too.
Obviously you have the upcoming UK shows in January but what else can fans expect from ONI in 2017?
Johnny: Our album just came out so we expect to be on tour most of next year. Nothing officially confirmed just yet.
To close, we will offer you the floor. Do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound Magazine?
Joe: We’re looking forward to seeing you guys at the shows and hanging out with you guys after the shows.
Jake: Bring weed to the shows!
Ironshore is out now via Metal Blade Records.
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