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Hard rock with a blues edge
Raunchy kick-ass sleaze rock n roll
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New York Hardcore that pounds.
“I’m looking for a reason why/Can’t close my eyes cause it might pass me by/It doesn’t matter if I don’t see straight/I’m living my life and can hardly wait.” “No Light”
Owl is one of the best-kept secrets on the L.A. club scene, a band featuring three electric musicians who have joined together to create something that is more than the sum of its individual parts—a collaboration between bassist Chris Wyse, his longtime pal, drummer Dan Dinsmore, and guitarist Jason Achilles. Currently the bassist for The Cult, Wyse has performed with a who’s-who of rock’s elite, including one-time roommate Jerry Cantrell, Camp Freddy, producer Bob Rock, Lusk’s Chris Pittman (now in Guns N’ Roses), Tal Bachman and as one-half of Ozzy Osbourne’s rhythm section alongside ex-Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin.
Featuring his patented stand-up bass, unique bowing style and on-stage intensity, Owl is a labor of love, which has now come to fruition with the release of the band’s self-titled debut on Overit Records. With Dinsmore, Wyse’s high school classmate and former bandmate from his hometown in N.Y., and Mezilis, now a full-time member, Owl is finally perched for take-off.
“This is the kind of band I would want to hear,” says Wyse of Owl’s blend of songcraft and prog-rock musicianship. “ We want to rock and have people be emotionally moved. We try to dazzle with our chops to create a kind of fantasy world as a passage to lure you in.”
“From the very first time we played together, we felt a vibe,” says Dinsmore, who played in underground Mercury Records cult band The Clay People, while also working with producers Mike Clink [Guns N’ Roses] and Neil Kernon [Cannibal Corpse, Macabre] before rejoining Chris in Owl “We’ve wanted to do this forever. The timing just felt right. It’s similar to what we were doing back then, but it’s grown up quite a bit.”
In songs like the first single, “Pusher” (co-written with songwriter/producer Marti Fredriksen, who has worked with such artists as Aerosmith and Eminem) and “More on Drugs,” Wyse’s doom-laden, sometimes apocalyptic vision borders on psychedelia, with the former’s insistence that sex can be every bit as powerful an addiction and the latter’s blast at TV ads touting legal pharmaceuticals and their long list of side effects. He rails against society’s dogmas and hypocrisies with almost a Biblical fury, reflecting his fiery background as the American-born son of Irish/Catholics.
“Waves” features Mezilis’ self-described “dirt-rock” guitar sound (“Everything that’s loose, sloppy and kind of out of tune on the album is me”), and Dinsmore’s tribal percussion with a coda that segues from muezzin-like Middle Eastern chanting and chilling screams into an all-out rave-up, recalling Led Zeppelin at its most mystical.
Owl is also capable of dreamy ballads like “Sky Rocket,” the Van Halen-meets-Hendrix medieval vibe of “Violent Center,” with its unorthodox 9/4 time signature, and the Pink Floyd art-rock of “Ghost in the Starlight,” an epic ghost story about a female spirit from the ‘20s that haunted a house Wyse lived in on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon.
Elsewhere, Owl’s songs relate tales from their adventures on the Sunset Strip rock scene “Apples”), or critique organized religion (“Preacher Man”) and war (“Violent Center”) or simply document the struggle to discover the meaning of life (“No Light”).
“Our music’s not really that dark,” explains Wyse, who admits he’s into self-realization and the power of living in the moment. “We’re just unveiling places you might not want to go. It’s all about the art and provoking discussion. This is our chance to get our musical vision out there.”
For Dinsmore, whose influences range from rockers like John Bonham, Keith Moon and Blondie’s Clem Burke to Steve Gadd and Jeff Porcaro, jazz drummers Buddy Rich and Louis Belson, as well as Motown, George Clinton and James Brown, “This is the culmination of everything I’ve done musically and ever wanted to do. It’s what I’ve been working towards my whole life.”
Mezilis has wanted to join Owl since being introduced to Chris by a mutual friend at L.A.’s Opium Den. Describing his role in the band as “a combination of Eddie Van Halen and The Police’s Andy Summers,” Being in the band is a dream come true for him.
"I’m usually a pretty meat-and-potatoes guitarist, but this is drawing different stuff out of me, so I’m really loving it. I have this freedom in a very cool, flowing way.”
“This is a band, not just a studio project,” insists Dinsmore. “Being a trio makes it intimate, allowing each of our individual characteristics to come out because we’re all so different.”
“True artists don’t wait around for the industry to tell them what they’re supposed to play. And that’s what we’re doing, " concludes Chris. " The artist has to be the hub around which everything else revolves. Owl is all about the music.”
Or as he puts it in “Waves”: “This is all. This is where you are/Hold your breath hang your head/Underneath the waves.”
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