Osk Interview

Interview with Dave McCrea (Guitarist/Vocalist)
Questions by Jim Walkley of Don’t Be Swindle zine
Conducted at the Nasum/ Black Breath/ Massgrave/ Theories show at The Highline in Seattle, May 26th, 2012.

Dave was nice enough to sit with me for a few minutes and discuss the awesome Canadian grind/powerviolence band Osk. Vancouver, B.C.’s Massgrave were in Seattle to play with the legendary Nasum on that band’s farewell tour; Dave handles bass duties for Massgrave in addition to being a principal member of Osk. Without further ado, here’s our full conversation:

Jim: So, I guess we might as well start off by discussing the upcoming 10-inch you’re going to release on Give Praise. What can you tell me about it in comparison to the discography CD?

Dave: It’s more aggressive and angry-sounding. It’s a lot faster. The songwriting’s a little different; a bit more involved.

Jim: Keep it short? (In reference to the motto at the end of the thanks list on the discography CD).

Dave: Sort of. There’s no slow parts, or anything like that. It’s busy! It’s hard to describe … (laughter)

Jim: You were telling me that one of your other bands, Mudlark, has a sludgy, doom-style sound, and a bit of that comes out in Osk. Are you backing away from that somewhat?

Dave: For sure. We are, because Braden, the drummer, plays in Haggatha — who are an awesome sludge band. Our bass player, Shawn, plays in a sludgy band called Grounding, so that side of Osk’s sound is kinda taken care of.

Jim: It sounds as if all the guys from Massgrave are pretty active, with a lot of bands going on.

Dave: Yeah, for sure! All of us in Massgrave play in a lot of bands.

Jim: It’s a pretty long list! You’ve got Haggatha, Massgrave, Osk, Grounding —

Dave: — As well as Expression Of Pain …

Jim: Also, Meat Of Mankind, who I believe broke up.

Dave: Yeah. Plus Mudlark. And Braden, the drummer, plays in a ’70’s rock band; they’re awesome, they sound like Thin Lizzy and Kiss, but they play basement grind shows! (laughter)

Jim: (laughter) Cool!

Dave: They’re called: Rock Band Call Time. (laughter)

Jim: Are you still doing Mudlark?

Dave: No … we’ve been done for two or three years.

Jim: Any reason? Were you just spread too thin?

Dave: That, and our drummer needed a break; he’s been drumming actively for years and wanted a break.

Jim: That younger kid who was sitting next to us earlier … is he now the drummer of Massgrave?

Dave: No. That’s our buddy, who drums in other bands in Vancouver. He’s helping us out on the tour, selling merch. Comin’ along for the ride!

Jim: (laughter)

Dave: No, he plays in Total War, which is yet another Massgrave side project; that’s with Hesher, Massgrave’s drummer. There’s another band connected to Massgrave called Absurdist — they’re awesome. They’re, like, Bolt Thrower-sounding kinda shit; it’s awesome. Our buddy plays drums in that.

Jim: You guys have such a variety of different styles that you play in; it sounds like everything from death metal, to grind, to sludge/doom … even ’70’s rock! Back to Osk. I talked to Bryan Adair from Six Brew Bantha by email; there were no lyrics printed in your discography CD that To Live A Lie put out, and I got to the last song, “Gob’s From Reno”, and I asked Bryan if it was a dis song on the Gob with Jon Kortland, who is now in Iron Lung.

Dave: No. There was this chuddy pop-punk band from Vancouver, who are still around, who are like Blink-182 shit … like, Gob! There’s a huge story that kinda goes with it; Braden hates them a lot. But, yeah, the original Gob, that sweet powerviolence band from Reno — it’s definitely not about them!

Jim: The real Gob!

Dave: (laughter) You were asking why we didn’t print the lyrics, and that’s because we came from Meat Of Mankind, who were very political — at least that’s what we were going for — and when we started Osk, we were more about “the music” at the time. We just wanted to play some crazy stuff, and we actually didn’t even have lyrics for a long time. I guess we were just making noises into the mic! When we’d go to record, we’d just write the lyrics really fast, just like, “Well, that kinda sucks … but whatever”. As of now, we totally take our time with lyrics.

Jim: What do the initials in the song “E.V.P.V.” stand for?

Dave: East Vancouver Power Violence! (laughter)

Jim: Cool … (laughter) Guess that’s kinda obvious!

Dave: I mean, some of the songs, we just did them last minute, like, “Man, this is goofy”! But some of them are serious — and they have good lyrics … I guess.

Jim: And what about the meaning behind “Empty White Box”? The first thing I always think of with that title is a coffin, but those aren’t white in color …

Dave: Our old bass player, Jay, wrote that one. It’s about him working in a fast food restaurant —

Jim: —Throwing the hamburger in an empty white box …

Dave: Exactly. However, I didn’t write that one, so I don’t know for sure. (laughter) On the split 7-inches, I think the lyrics are sometimes printed out.

Jim: Where did you get that image on the cover? It’s so disturbing, an image of abject poverty —

Dave: — Totally.

Jim: Is that from somewhere in Canada?

Dave: No … I found that picture; I believe it’s from gypsies …

Jim: From Romania?

Dave: … from Wales.

Jim: It just looks so harsh.

Dave: I know! That’s why we used it.

Jim: It also fits well with the other images in the discography CD booklet.

Dave: Definitely. That’s the other thing, too. All the art on our other records … that’s kinda how I always thought of it. Like, I had that vision for Osk. Black and white — stark, you know? And our friends that we did the splits with would be like, “You know, our friend did this crazy thing for the cover”. And it was like, “Yeah, that’s cool! Sure!” (laughter) But now, for instance, I’m doing the art for the 10-inch myself.

Jim: As in, actually drawing or painting something yourself?

Dave: No, just spending hours going to the library and searching out pictures …

Jim: I know that’s how Eric Wood of Man Is The Bastard used to do it. He found that classic Man Is The Bastard skull at the library.

Dave: Yeah, exactly! That cover picture was just me sitting in the library in downtown Vancouver for hours, flipping through photograph books and looking for the right picture … (laughter)

Jim: I assume that’s where you found the image of that homeless man in a sleeping bag with the words “Nothing Changes” above it …

Dave: Exactly!

Jim: I thought that was pretty brutal …

Dave: (laughter) Yeah, we were stoked to find that! That’s always how I envisioned Osk art.

Jim: One of the songs that I really liked off of the discography CD was “Lie Through Your Teeth”. I liked how it opened up; it breaks off from the power chord riffing into dissonant, open notes. Are Osk doing anything like that on the new stuff? Or have you weeded that stuff out?

Dave: Well, the new stuff … actually, we can hardly play it! We’re trying to push it — we’re all basically just giant guitar nerds. (laughter) Just write crazy, but not tech-y, material. But with other styles coming in. Such as heavy, almost … I don’t want to say “black metal”, but bands like Knelt Rote. A tiny bit of that.

Jim: In a way, that was there already, and you’re expanding on it.

Dave: For sure. Basically, we’re dropping all the sludge and d-beat stuff; there are still hints of it, but it’s less of a focus.

Jim: Would you describe the new material more as grind, or powerviolence?

Dave: Powerviolence, I’d have to say. The riffs are catchier.

Jim: There’s a bit of grind to Osk, though, at least on the discography CD. But it never sounds straight-up grind …

Dave: No — we did that on purpose. We all listen to so many different styles of music. With Meat Of Mankind, it was very “d-beat/grind/then a sludge part”; it was very structured. Now, we’ll just come in with the weirdest riff, like, “Sweet! How can we make that into something, like …”

Jim: … adding blast beats …

Dave: Yes, although we’re trying to not have any structure at all, and just leave it open to whatever.

Jim: Do you write most of the material for Osk?

Dave: I have been lately, yeah. The discography is pretty much all of us, separately.

Jim: Because Braden plays guitar, as well.

Dave: Yeah — he’s a crazy guitar player. And Jay, too, when he was in the band. He’s an insane guitar player, too. Back then, we’d all bring a song in — but lately, I’ve been writing more.

Jim: Out of all the earlier songs, you were telling me that some of it was not as well thought-out lyrically, but what among those split 7-inches stands out musically as being your favorite? What were you happiest with out of those splits?

Dave: (Instantly) Oh, the Warhero one. That starts with the slow one, “It All Means Nothing”, then a grindy song … on that split, it was one of Braden’s songs, one of Jay’s songs, and then one of mine.

Jim: So it was the most democratic.

Dave: Well, we actually did that on most of those records, on purpose; we tried to do one of each of our songs.

Jim: How much vocals do you end up doing in Osk?

Dave: On the Warhero split, same thing; we all did vocals equally. Lately, it’s been a lot of me. Braden’s doing so much more crazy drumming; I asked him if he could sing over some of these parts, and he said, “No way!” And Shawn’s never really done vocals. Actually, though, last week, I said to Shawn, “Hey, here’s a mic stand …” And he’s got a super-brutal voice! But it’s hard to do.

Jim: How active have Osk been with touring?

Dave: We’d love to come to the states … but Braden is banned!

Jim: He has some sort of issue where he can’t get a passport or a visa?

Dave: I guess it was four years ago. Braden was asked to fill in on drums for a Stormcrow tour; he was gonna do that, and he came down to the border. He had his drums in the car … at the border, they asked him, “Um, what are you doing?” And he said, “Just seeing some friends”. Basically, he got denied. Banned — because they had found on his cellphone that somebody had texted him: “Have fun on tour!” As a result, he got banned for five years. In that time, we’ve been touring Canada — which has been awesome. Lots of good bands; it’s just that the driving is ridiculous. It’s not very feasible.

Jim: I’m sure you have friends all over Canada, though, so if you could do that distance of driving, you’d have somebody to play with —

Dave: Oh yeah, the shows are great! But it’s hard. Like, we did a tour with The Endless Blockade up there …

Jim: I’ve seen the flyer for that!

Dave: We also used to go to that Arsonfest a lot; that was fun. It’s up in Winnipeg. Our friend puts it on. Once a summer, we usually go and do a ten-day tour … then do a shitload of local stuff, in Vancouver, and Squamish.

Jim: Do you know if Braden is cleared to go to Europe?

Dave: Yeah. He’s going there soon with his other band.

Jim: So it’s just the U.S.? And just for the reason that he wasn’t completely honest?

Dave: No … they wouldn’t have let him in, even if he had told them he was going on tour. You just can’t. I mean, for us in Massgrave to come down … we had our buddy that lives here bring gear over the border for us, and some dudes in another band brought records down for us. We had to come down with only so much clothes … only enough where it looked like we were just going down for the weekend. No merch. I didn’t even have a guitar pick on me!

Jim: Then just stop at a store when you get down here …

Dave: Yeah — we did that! It’s just fucked. It sucks … they apparently think that we’re making all this money. But we don’t make any money. And any money we do make, we spend it on gas or food; it all goes back to America, you know? It’s not like we’re getting rich. You know, end up getting fired from our jobs for touring so much … (laughter)

Jim: Has maintaining a job been an issue, with everyone being in so many bands?

Dave: I’m lucky, because my boss is cool; I’m kinda self-employed, in a way, and do construction. So when I go, he just knows. With the other dudes, sometimes it’s harder.

Jim: How much do Massgrave tour, then?

Dave: We’ve actually been pretty busy, but it goes in waves; we’ll be busy for a couple years, and then recover financially for up to a year. (laughter) Last year was busy. And this year, too — we’re going to Europe for six or seven weeks in September, in addition to this short U.S. tour that Massgrave’s doing.

Jim: So Europe’s much easier to get into, in comparison to the U.S.

Dave: It’s not even an issue. You could be standing there with your bass in the airport, right next to a bag of merch. They’ll ask you, “What are you doing?” You’ll just say, “Um, going to visit some friends,” and they’re like, “Okay! Have fun!” (laughter) Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s too bad about the U.S., because if it were different, we’d be down here all the time. As it is, we have to all come separately … we brought down the van — just a huge, empty van. Braden’s allowed back in the States next year, so Osk will definitely be coming down here a lot. The Fall of 2013, he’s allowed to come back in to the States.

Jim: At that time, how heavily do you think you’ll tour the U.S.?

Dave: I want to do at least a month. At least. Right away.

Jim: Mainly West Coast?

Dave: I’d like to do the whole U.S., for sure. I’d really like to do a tour with Roskopp; I know those guys, and they’re super awesome guys. And they want to, so that would be fun. I’d also like to tour with Six Brew Bantha down here — that would be fun. Stuff like that. We’ve had so many people come up to us, just like, “Come down and play!” And we have to say: “Can’t!” (laughter)

Jim: About Six Brew Bantha: in their recent accident, your girlfriend wasn’t hurt when their van rolled over? She was touring with them and helping out with merch.

Dave: No — she was totally fine. None of them were really hurt, considering. They flipped over at least three times on the highway.

Jim: Did that happen at night, or during the day?

Dave: It was the middle of the day. It was hot outside. One of their tires blew. One guy needed knee surgery because he tore a tendon. But he’s okay; they’re back on tour.

Jim: Did he have health insurance?

Dave: He did. Yes.

Jim: Canada has good health insurance, I hear.

Dave: Yeah, it’s practically free. I pay, like, forty dollars a month.

Jim: We need to figure out how to do that in America! (laughter) We’re not so lucky. It’s tremendously expensive to get health care down here.

Dave: Yeah, I’ve had friends down here who’ve experienced that. One of my buddies down here got beat up randomly after work. You know, not only do you get beat up, but you get stuck with a huge fuckin’ medical bill … it’s crazy. (laughter)

Jim: I think that’ll about do it. Anything else you’d like to add in closing? It sounds like the upcoming release on Give Praise will be out soon.

Dave: I’d say maybe as early as June.

Jim: And the upcoming Massgrave split with Suffering Mind?

Dave: That’ll be out by the time we go to Europe. The split with Bloody Phoenix won’t be for awhile, but Suffering Mind ought to be done in time for the European tour. The Osk record might be Summer or Fall.

Jim: So Massgrave are playing again with Nasum tomorrow night in Portland?

Dave: Yeah. Then we’re going on our own to Boise, and Denver; Dallas, then four days in Austin …

Jim: Are you driving down to Dallas from Denver?

Dave: Yeah, and we don’t have a day off. Then we go to San Antonio, and Albuquerque — fuckin’ … it’s crazy. (laughter) We did get the air conditioning in the van fixed, though. So it’s all good!

Jim: (laughter) Let’s end it on that! Thanks!



This entry was written by Will , posted on Wednesday May 30 2012at 09:05 am , filed under Interviews, News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “Osk Interview”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>