OHHMS’ new album Close is out on 26th June via Holy Roar Records.
Since forming in 2014 in Canterbury, Kent, sludge/post-metal outfit OHHMS have managed to get quite a lot done quickly becoming a pretty essential member of the more adventurous metal scene in the UK. 26th August sees the release of their third album Close. More autobiographical in nature than previous efforts Exist and The Fool, the album also sees the group craft more concise and direct songs than before. The result is an album that is finely balanced between a direct pummel and nuanced exploration.
We wanted to know more about the album. Luckily Paul Waller (vocalist) was good enough to have a bit of a chin wag with us about it. We also touched on religion, horror films, and his love of experimental rock/metal festival ArcTanGent.
Pre-order Close via Holy Roar Records.
Overblown: One of the new tracks you’ve released from your upcoming album Close, is called ‘Destroyer’. At just over three minutes, it is a surprisingly concise song for the band. Is that a trend throughout the album? If so, why shift in that direction?
Paul Waller: I lost interest in the long song format. In my mind we achieved exactly what we wanted to with ‘Subjects’ and ‘The Anchor’, one was proggy and one was full on doom. We also explored drone on the Fool album with the song ‘The Heirophant’. When I said to the band I really don’t want to repeat ourselves they were already thinking along the same lines. Saying that if we are in the practice room and a song clearly needs over 10 minutes to settle in then, of course, we won’t just kill that idea because of its time span.
O: In the lyrics of ‘Destroyer’, lyrics from other songs are paraphrased such as ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by Bill Withers. How did that come about?
PW: The album, lyrically, is like an autobiography for me and hearing those songs on my parents stereo growing up sunk in. Also, both lines work really well within the context of the message I was trying to get across.
O: The artwork for the new album features a mosquito (I think it’s one anyway!). This isn’t the first time your artwork has featured an insect. Why the interest in insects?
PW: Ruth Stanley who was our artist did a brilliant job. It’s a dragonfly of course and what is fascinating about them is that they live for 6 months but only a small fraction of that time is spent as a dragonfly doing dragonfly things. Just like us, their time is finite but they slowly develop into the adult and then burn really bright before death. It’s a nice correlation for humans. It’s how I want to go.
O: The new album Close marks the end of a trilogy of your albums dealing with plants, animals and man. What inspired you to write a trilogy dealing with these topics?
PW: When we began the only plan for OHHMS was to make a one off product to document our time together. A local band playing local shows. That was it. I was really into the big pharma debate at the time and looking into scary companies such as Monsanto and Charles River. When we came out of the studio we thought what we had recorded was too good in our eyes to just do a one off and continue with some new bands like we had planned to.
Going forward I suggested that we aim for a trilogy of releases before we pack it in. Like you say, Plants and food which turned out to be our debut ‘Bloom’, Animals which became ‘Cold’ and then we found a little success and wrote albums and put the trilogy on the back burner. But all the time doing the final part of the trilogy burned musical holes in our heads and we were always storing ideas for it until over Facebook messenger we simply decided to head full on into completing the beast so now we have ‘Close’, the final instalment about us, humans.
O: Paul, you’re an atheist and you have said you are obsessed with religion. Were you born into a religious family? How did you find your way to atheism?
PW: I wasn’t born into a religious family, I was born into a family set up which was truly unhealthy and full of violence that stemmed from alcohol abuse. I was never religious.
But there was always something there. I think I was about 6 and something must have happened to me where I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was told by TV and maybe at school, I dunno, that God would see and hear everything so I put it to the test. I kept repeating phrases, mostly in my head. “I hate Jesus” and “There is no God”. If there was someone or something out there it would find me and put me straight.
It never did.
O: What role do you think religion has in modern society if any?
PW: In my life, not much. In general in the UK and worldwide… WAY TOO MUCH. The role of religion can be a decisive one in most forms of politics to this day, except when big money talks. Only cash trumps God in today’s society, which in my mind is mad. Crisps trump God as far as I am concerned.
O: Your new song ‘Alive!’ is quite a defiant song lyrically. It’s like a rallying call to arms. I feel it would go down well live. Was that a consideration when you were writing it? It’s impact in a live setting?
PW: This is the first time I have actually considered this sort of thing. How will it come across live? Which is quite ironic seeing that we cant play live due to the pandemic. As soon as ‘Alive!’ kicks in it’s meant to be euphoric. The stance of we have just one life and it’s all ahead of me and I can do what I like. That’s the feeling when you are young. It doesn’t really turn out that way but for a fleeting moment during childhood, you can be indestructible.
O: Paul said recently that he has been trying to get through every horror film ever created. What are a couple of favourites so far?
PW: There are so many it’s crazy, I love most horror genres, the only one’s I can’t get to grips with are those 70s/80s Italian jobs. I trawl through them, all these so called classics, and get nothing from it. Saying that I would recommend 3 films from the past decade giving them perfect 10 scores though. Under The Skin, A Dark Song and Midsommar. They are the ones for me. All beautifully shot and all films that demand that you think for yourself afterwards.
O: You’ve been vocal about your love of the ArcTanGent festival before. What do you think about their success raising over £90,000 to keep the festival going?
PW: Utterly deserved. No other festival got behind us like they did from the very start, they have never fucked us over, they never curate a shitty line up. If you are into that niche of music and it’s a wide as hell niche, then you are going to find a ton of bands to fall in love with every time they put on a festival. Who wouldn’t want to back that?
O: Are there any other venues or festivals that you are looking forward to playing once restrictions are lifted?
PW: Almost anything. We are so hungry to play again, make us an offer!