Article by: Laura Molinaro
Denholm Whale of Toronto’s own Odonis Odonis dips into Hollandaze, tipping stages at NXNE, and the absurdity of success.
Like the sinister static overtones on the degraded tapes of old timey children’s music, Odonis Odonis make songs that sound more like de-compositions. Anything too obvious is doused in acid and fuzz. According to Denholm Whale, the band’s bassist, all it takes in preparation for penning an Odonis Odonis song is “a cigarette and some peace and quiet”, which is odd when consider the bursts of insane noise the Toronto trio unleash at every turn.
Perhaps the most apt description for that sonic assault would be Industrial surfgaze, a catch-all self-diagnosed genre that the band has readily toted around since the release of their debut album Hollandaze. Besides the blood that will dribble down from your eardrums at the striking of the play button, a lot else leaks out: “The Pixies, Ministry, Big Black…we are pretty open minded when it comes to influence. It finds a way of seeping in every way.”
Filling out the rest of the trio are Jarod Gibson on drums and Dean Tzenos on guitar and lead vocals. Tzenos, who started the band off as a solo project in his room, also pens all the lyrics. Whale brings his band mate’s dark and cathartic process to light: “Dean was in a pretty weird place when putting together Hollandaze. I know there was a lot of struggle with his love life and his work life. He had quit his full time job and his engagement ended. As for themes in current and future material, it touches on similar sentiments but is also focused on what we have learned from being a band these past two years and putting everything we have into our craft".
All of that can be heard in the well-received Better EP they released this April. However, as they continue to drive forward with new material, some unreleased material may turn up too. In 2011, Tzenos revealed to Exclaim! that, while working on Hollandaze, he also recorded an album entitled Soft Boiled, Hard Boiled. Whale reveals that getting the record out hasn’t been easy: “It will definitely see a North American release. We want to do it proper but at the same time it’s almost 4 years old. Getting this record out been quite a dramatic amount of stress but that doesn’t mean we [will] let it sleep.”
Seeing as they are signed to the UK label Fatcat Records, Odonis Odonis have had their fair share of exposure overseas. But like tour mates METZ, they haven’t forgotten their Toronto roots. Whale, who also co-runs the cassette loving, independent label Buzz Records, weighs in on the local scene and what to check out: “There are lots of great bands here. Ell V Gore, Sins, and the Pretty Pretty Records crew have lots of good shit going on right now. Dive into it. Usually if I want to find new Toronto acts, I just look to institutions like Daps Records, Pleasance Records, Telephone Explosion, Offerings, and Weird Canada.”
What’s for sure is that our city offers variety in abundance, a fact most prevalent during NXNE’s takeover. During the festival this summer, Odonis Odonis played the infamous Bruise Cruise. “It was strange to have the stage tipping ever so slowly while trying to get through a set. It also kind of looked like the room could have been rented for a prom. People somehow found a way to channel that into a mosh pit though, so whatever, it was fun.”
However, Whale reveals, most of the insane antics are confined to the stage. “Actually, we don’t end up falling into as many band clichés as I thought we would. Our Windstar is pretty reliable and we usually have too much driving to do to hang out and party. We can’t really afford to destroy our hotel rooms.”
Their view of success seems just as pleasantly distorted as their songs. Some day very soon, Odonis Odonis will be able to tear Best Western’s apart left and right if they damn well please but instead, Whale says he’ll known he’s made it is when he “[walks] in on Jimmy Fallon and Harrison Ford eating Andy Richter live at the Tonys”.
A predilection for cannibalism aside, it’s Odonis Odonis’ intense dedication to their craft that ultimately propels them forward: “Our sound is constantly evolving while at the same time incorporating previous elements that we still enjoy. Sure it’s easier to sell a one trick pony, but we are interested in pushing our creative limits and exploring what we can do both on stage and in the studio. We always want to one-up ourselves.”