Olivia Tremor Control Headlines Austin Psych Fest
OTC leader Bill Doss speaks as warmly as his band's music
By Luke Winkie,
9:07AM, Thu. Apr. 26, 2012
Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control speaks with unguarded warmth, answering questions in long, detailed pathways. He of the reunited Austin Psych Fest Saturday headliners is far more forthright than the experimental crowd's traditional aloofness. Here's some of what didn't make the Music Listings in today's Chronicle.
Austin Chronicle: Tell me more about how the reunion happened. You mentioned something about Will Hart’s alcohol problems.
Bill Doss: Yeah, well Will was abusing himself after his diagnosis, drinking too much, so we started playing together again to try and help him. Recording stuff for fun, like high school. Then some of that stuff started turning out pretty good, so we decided to book a show. That led to two shows, then a couple more shows, and then the recordings started stacking up on each other, so it was pretty clear we should make a record. It wasn’t necessarily something we intended to do. It just grew organically, just like how we started as a band.
AC: Did you ever expect to get back together?
BD: Not at all. When we went on hiatus and everyone was involved in different things, it seemed clear that we were going our own ways. There was always part of me that hoped we would get back together, but I didn’t expect it.
AC: Your albums seem like they capture a very specific time and place because of Elephant 6’s communal approach to recording. What do you hear now when you listen to them?
BD: To be honest I don’t really listen to our albums, just because I’ve heard them so many times. It’s funny. I have satellite radio and there’s this indie channel that has an “oldies” show that basically plays underground stuff from the Nineties. They play our stuff on there. It’s nice being the “classic rock” of indie. It’s fun to hear that stuff in the car.
AC: In the recordings now, do you have other guys in Elephant 6 involved?
BD: Absolutely. We’re working with the same sort of process as we used to, just letting things grow slowly. We have songs that we’ve been working on from years ago, and stuff that’s only months old. We’re actually thinking of doing a series of volumes of music. We really have almost three hours of new music, and we’re excited to see what that turns into. It’s been on for so long that over the years when someone is in town we’d bring them over, play them a song, and see what they can add to it. It’s all the same people, the only difference is the technology. We’re using Pro Tools now.
AC: There’s a lot of Nineties bands getting back together to play shows. At the Drive-In recently said something to the effect that it was mainly about money, which is defendable. Where does the money factor come in for the OTC reunion?
BD: Well, I can certainly say that we haven’t gotten back together for the money because there isn’t any. For us, it was mainly the friendship between Will and I. When that got fixed it put a lot of things in perspective. All the things that used to seem important looked like complete bullshit. It only made sense to start playing again.
AC: How involved were you in the recent reissues?
BD: We did that all ourselves. We remastered Black Foliage because it always had this weird darkness to it sonically that we weren’t happy with. So we cleared that up. And we collected all this unreleased stuff that we liked but never came out, and we also redid all the artwork.
I’m really happy that we did all that because it cleaned up really well. Someone looked at the cover of Black Foliage and said, “Oh my god, the cover is wrong!” Well no, the cover now looks more like the actual painting.