If O’Death were a movie, they’d surely be a “mystic Western.” That’s how the band’s banjoist, Gabe Darling, described one of his favorite films, “Dead Man,” in an interview with The Eagle.
Darling cited films, books and a genre-less array of music including Tom Waits, The Misfits, Black Flag, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Wu-Tang Clan and Alice in Chains as impetuses for the band’s music. That doesn’t mean anything goes, though.
“We all like all different things, but I think we’re all pretty much open to all different genres of music here,” he said. “But there are things I don’t like. [They’ve] been on an AC/DC bent lately, it’s just like hell for me. I hate AC/DC. I hate AC/DC. It’s like hell’s bells.”
It’s not surprising that the raw music advocate would decry the pioneers of processed heavy metal.
“I hear so much shitty music where I can’t believe how many layers there are on that ... We have this sort of blending of noise that allows for some imperfection as well,” Darling said of the production of the band’s latest album, “Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin.”
Though less polished than your average AC/DC album, “Broken Hymns” has a more mature, complete feel than the rollicking, freewheeling tracks on “Head Home,” the band’s previous album. Regardless of attitude, O’Death tells a good story, perhaps best seen on “Fire on Peshtigo,” which Darling cites as his favorite on the new venture.
“I like it ‘cause it’s got a story,” he said. “It’s about the Great Peshtigo Fire that happened on the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, but it killed way more people, but we don’t know about it, really ... I just like the process: we found the story, then we found an account of it by a priest who was trying to save people from the flames and get them out into the water. We basically lifted off his writing, and I think it turned out pretty cool.”
“Broken Hymns” is the dissonant-folk baby the band has been gestating for the past two and a half years as they toured in support of “Head Home.” The band took only a short break before returning to the road after releasing the new album. O’Death is a hard-working band, whether it’s putting on an epic live show or taking a day off.
When the band recently ventured to Hamburg, Germany, which Darling cites as one of their favorite places to play, they spent their down time working on a new song.
“Instead of hanging out for a day off, we were like no, let’s go into a studio,” he said. “In which I managed to knock myself unconscious as well. There are these wooden beams everywhere ... There’s a step up to get out of the live room and go down the hallway to the control room and if you go out one of the ways, there’s a beam. One of the ways, it’s cut out, and the other way, it’s not cut out ... I went the wrong way and knocked myself unconscious. I woke up on the ground. However, my tea didn’t spill at all. It was in my hand completely upright when I woke up.”
Even if the members of O’Death work until they pass out - for one reason or another - they play just as hard. When asked who they’d like to play with, dead or alive, bassist Jesse Newman quickly chimed in.
“We’d like to play with someone alive,” he said.
Doubtlessly, this sort of attitude is what makes their live shows. If the promise of punks playing bluegrass instruments isn’t enough, Newman offered up a character-appropriate reason to check out the band Dec. 4 at the Black Cat.
“Come out to our show and we’ll protect you from the zombies,” he said. “We are very learned in zombie warfare ... I can’t tell you anymore now, but we’ll talk, we’ll talk in person.”