by Jeff Milo
The two guitarists were too young to drink at the first few shows Oscillating Fan Club played in local bars. But now, pushing 30, Ray Thompson and Pierce Reynolds feel old enough to look back and finally admit what they’d likely known all along, as bandmates.
That they’ve got an insatiable “
hunger for pop melodies” and an unquenchable “thirst for speed
Guitarist/singer Thompson just summed up their sound succinctly.
The main elements, Thompson, Reynolds and bassist/singer Jon C. Fairweather, have been oscillating for nine years now. Graphic artist Robin Veresh was their co-founding drummer and played/recorded with the group for more than seven years before moving on; Justin Walsh (of Crappy Future) joined last Spring.
Thompson considers this collaboration and their individual draw to music as an irrepressible addiction.
They’ve continued playing music together because: “Well,” says Thompson, “
’cuz we want to. Period.” But more than that, says Thompson, “(the music) takes hold of you and leaves you no other choice.”
They’ve been able to last this long, the three of them, because of a mutual respect and admiration. “We get along musically, but also as friends,” adds Thompson.
“But Justin has really breathed new life into us. He brought us more
” Thompson pauses for the right word: “Pride.” He adds, “And new excitement. (Walsh) is very adaptable.” Adaptability a prerequisite for the OFC, especially considering one of the songs on their new album is an ambitious cinematic sandwiching of Spaghetti-Western themes upon Afrobeat rhythms (and a bit of James Bondian go-go whimsy tossed in for brassy spice).
Two years ago, this local quartet, well-known in the indie-underground cliques for their ragged, yet regal revival of a Kinks-recalling, surf-rock-reverent pop/punk, had gone M.I.A. “We
stopped,” Thompson says, briefly pausing as though he hadn’t admitted it yet.
He doesn’t mince words to describe the writing/recording of their third LP Oscillations of a Beast: “rejuvenating
easier.” And the words he chooses for the particular sound of these new songs? Well, songwriters and performers often have difficulty gauging how much, if at all, their own style or approach has changed over time. But Thompson admits that there’s now more of a “punk” edge.
Somehow they’ve gotten a more “aggressive” sound while maintaining a heavily nostalgic lyrical inflection. “I’m sure there’s something thematic in there,” Thompson says, furrowing his brow, recalling the collaborative lyric-writing process with Fairweather. “Really, though, you just start writing
and, ya know. There’s a lot on childhood and loss. It’s not that we’re nostalgic of Oscillating’s past. It harkens to loss in general, or loss of innocence.”
Reynolds, a classically trained musician with endearing inclinations toward shredding, freak-out guitar statements, is doubly concise when he explains their group’s endurance: “Love of music.”
Reynolds: “Jon, Ray and I have definitely felt revitalization from Justin’s enthusiasm and ability.” The “classic Oscillating-sound,” as Reynolds puts it, has expanded dramatically on this new record to include their deepening appreciation for music across the globe.
Thompson’s a lifelong Ferndale resident and a fervent fan of music (from inimitable British Invasion to Tropicalia troubadours). He’s grown up with Reynolds, from age 13-onward. Now they’re old enough to actually feel true nostalgia. The pair aligned with Fairweather after their first years in college and soon enriched their musical repertoires through sharing in each other’s distinctive tastes from obscure experimentalists to bouyant bossanova flavors, blended with quintessential 90’s indie-rock and crate-diving excavations of world music, particularly Afrobeat. Shred that all together and you get The OFC’s specialty salad - doused with dressings of melody and zealously strewn with pop-hook croutons.
“Beast is kinda all-over-the-place,” Thompson says, somewhat struggling to summarize it. He gives thankful nods to the collaboration of signer/songwriter Scott Masson who helped wrap up with mixing and overdubs, as well as serve as an idea-progressing soundboard for the boys. “There’s weird almost-Sabbath-y moments, there’s a march, a Spaghetti-Western instrumental
Once you hear it you’ll get what I’m saying."
The Oscillating Fan Club play an album release show at the Old Miami on August 31 for Oscillations of a Beast LP (on vinyl via Bellyache Records). Opening the show is Pink Lightning and Golden Torso – at 9pm – 3930 Cass Avenue. 313-831-3130 - More info: Bellyacherecords.com / Sounds at: http://bellyacherecords.bandcamp.com/