OOOD you think is talking: An interview with psy-trance greats OOOD
The following interview was conducted by Dex Flett, on behalf of Parallel PR and Waveform Festival:
Way back in the ‘90s, Parallel PR’s Steve and Dex were involved with a monthly dance event called ‘Skankadelic’ in their home town of Banbury, and enjoyed performances from many up-and-coming young musicians and DJs. One band that stood out from the rest was ‘Out Of Our Depth’, who since then (and after a couple of personnel changes) have gone from strength to strength to achieve almost legendary status in the worldwide Psychedelic Trance scene, under the acronym ‘OOOD’.
OOOD was formed as a three piece in 1994 by Colin Bennun, Steve Callaghan, and Nigel Bradbury. They immediately made their mark, and have worked with some of the top names and labels around the Psy/Goa Trance world. Since losing Nigel, and gaining Ramsay Melhuish and Ryokan Potier, OOOD has continued as one of the most sought after and original live Psytrance festival favourites, as well as being prolific in the ‘STOODIO’. Their latest album, ‘You Think You Are’, out on the ‘Vertigo’ label, is ample proof that the group’s creativity is as fresh and exciting as it ever was.
Ahead of their much-anticipated sets (yes…that’s ‘sets’, plural) as a band and as individual artiste’s at this year’s Waveform Festival, Parallel PR managed to get the guys to take time out from their busy schedule to talk to us.
PARALLEL: Hi, fellas. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to have a chat. You guys are absolute veterans of the Psy scene, what were you all doing before OOOD?
Colin – I was unemployed, having just finished a stint writing music for computer games. I’d been in bands and worked in studios since I was 15 but by then I had a little MIDI setup at home and was making dancy, dubby tracks on my own, and with random friends.
Rama – After being involved in a noise band called Conform or Die in the late eighties, I made the transition onto 1210’s just as acid house morphed into harder-edged acid techno. Living in London at the time was amazing, it was total carnage in terms of the quantity and size of free parties.
Ryo – Fiddling my other knobs, raving in the 90’s in between DJing on lovely vinyls, working, studying and getting too farted for studying. Oh, and vinyl shopping. Lots and lots of vinyl shopping. Musically, I was in a school band (drums) and orchestra (violin).
Steve – Before OOOD I was in various other bands, DJing, and putting on psytrance parties in Oxford with Rama, and writing mostly psychedelic dub.
PARALLEL: Who were your earliest influences?
Steve – The Beatles, Hendrix… then a million others.
Rama – My first 7’’ was Nellie The Elephant by The Toy Dolls, then making endless compilations of John Peel shows off the radio; he opened up the Pandora’s Box of musical mayhem, from Spacemen 3 to Napalm Death and so much in between..
Colin – I guess my very earliest influences would have to be my parents for sitting me in a room with a piano and an EMS Synthi at the age of 4. Human League, Art of Noise (and other Trevor Horn productions), ELO… Bob Moog got in there pretty early too, via Wendy Carlos.
Ryo – The Blue Hearts (80’s Japanese punk rock band), Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi (no, not that Tsuyoshi), Led Zeppelin.
PARALLEL: In the nineteen years since you formed, you’ve become regular world travellers. Are there vast differences in people’s approach to the Psy scene, or is it generally the same the world over?
Rama – Wherever you go there’s a shared love in surrendering yourself to the 4/4 beat in a visually spectacular environment, it transcends language and culture.
Ryo – Definitely different, but at the same time the essence is similar everywhere. Some places like Japan, where there are not many sweeties to help you fly with the pink rabbit, the scene is clean, wholesome and organic, yet their love of the music is enough to take people to that pink rabbit and beyond.
Steve – There is a beautiful vibe the world over, they’re all slightly different. We’re all very lucky to be a part of this scene.
Colin – Everywhere has its own slight take on it but even with the differences of location and culture it’s kind of all the same party, just different stages and rooms of the same global celebration.
PARALLEL: You’ve played at some of the best festivals in the world (Boom, Fusion, Glade, Universo Parallelo, etc.), as well as clubs large and small. What kind of venue do you enjoy most?
Colin – They all have their moments! Small clubs can be very intense and intimate, but large venues have their own special tingle up the spine. Indoors is best in the winter or if the weather’s bad, outdoors is best when the sun is shining.
Ryo – We enjoy the experience of festivals and parties in all the ones we go to, just like everybody else. It is after all why we are doing this and it is as important for us to enjoy and dance with all the lovely people who bring us there as it is for us to play for them. It’s what keeps our creative juices flowing.
Steve – I’ve got a bit of preference for outdoor nature parties/festivals, big or small, but there’s been some great indoor parties too.
Rama – Whether it’s indoors or out, it’s as much about the people you’re with as the place you find yourself in.
PARALLEL: While we’re on the subject of festivals, what is it about Waveform that keeps bringing you back?
ALL: We have had many memorable moments in the history of Waveform, many good times. We played at the very first one and ever since then we’ve supported it through its various changes and improvements. We keep coming back because it’s local to us, with a great crowd and a dedicated crew – particularly Jason and the TRiBE of FRoG team who we’ve had strong connections with since 2001.
PARALLEL: Do you all involve yourselves in side-projects?
Steve – I’m currently writing a few dance tracks with various people, an acoustic experiment with Alex Gaves, and will soon be doing a remix of a Sidewinder track, and a chillout track of my own.
Ryo – Yes, I’m writing music with 3 separate projects, all for the compilation I am putting together. And I am also writing a tune with my sister Yas-ko on vocals, which will be somewhere on the House spectrum. It’s good to stretch your boundaries in terms of writing different stuff.
Colin – I’m currently involved with one main side-project with my friend Mark Kerridge, making deep rolling trance-influenced tech under the name Kleesh. We’ve got an EP out right now on Horns and Hooves Entertainment. It’s also my turn to work on the new Voice of Cod track Andrew and I started; I’ve been very slack with that and I need to get a move on.
PARALLEL: What other genres of music do you prefer to listen to when it’s time to kick back and relax?
ALL: Everything from 15th century spoon music to next level Acid Chav.
PARALLEL: What’s next for OOOD?
ALL: We’ve recently started to be asked to do a few remixes so we’ve got our heads down right now working on a version of the huge ‘Killer Wheels’ by Acidova, for Rune Recordings. We’ve also just done a remix of Hedflux’s classic track ‘Rhythm Prism’, which should hopefully be coming out on Broken Robot at some point – Colin’s also done a more techy remix with Kleesh.
We just finished a new psy track called ‘That’s Why We Shwing’, which clocks in at 148bpm; gotta balance the psybreaks with some heavy four to the floor action! Steve, Rama and Ryo have a new track on the go called ‘Pythagopus’ which is heading in a psy-techy direction and is most likely to be released on Aux Records, and there’s a drum+bass track in the pipeline for Ryo’s compilation, which itself is looking very interesting. It’s provisionally titled “Liquid Acid Bass”, and will have a heavy drum+bass emphasis with a serious dose of psychedelia. Some of our favourite artists have agreed to write tracks especially for it, like Dick Trevor and Hedflux.
Summer is coming up, and we’re playing across the country, and heading Nordicwards a couple of times too. Pick of our summer dates are probably Pearl Festival in Norfolk, Waveform (of course!), and Existence Festival in Finland.
PARALLEL: And a cheeky final ask, how much have your rider requirements changed in the last nineteen years, and what would be your ideal rider?
Colin – Personally I’m happy just to be kept fed and watered. One nice thing that happened at a festival we were playing at the other week was the organiser gave us a carrier bag full of high-grade booze after our set, which was great. More of that please!
Steve – I require one medium-sized lake populated by a pod of mermaids, a 50cc multicoloured flying fluoro wheelbarrow and at least three remote-controlled pineapples. And biscuits… lots of biscuits.
Rama – I’m grateful for anything from a beer to a…
Ryo – Don’t get me started. How long do you have?
PARALLEL: Thanks a lot, guys. Some excellent responses. We’ll definitely enjoy reading them back later. We wish you well in all of your future projects, and we are gritting our teeth in anticipation of what you will pull out of your magical Psy bag at Waveform.