If meticulous, constructed soundscapes from Radiohead and Hot Chip are at one end of the production spectrum, then John Dwyer’s boundless surf rock is at the other. Thee Oh Sees’ philosophy is the envy of most musicians – they record songs in a single take and send them out into the world as they were at their conception, free from convoluted minor details. Dwyer and his band mates – Brigid Dawson, Mike Shoun and Petey Dammit – are the highly intelligent students at the back of every classroom who see no value in getting good grades. They are, put simply, riding their own wave.
But Thee Oh Sees’ hassle-free recording style doesn’t make them any less hard working or considered than bands that disappear into the studio for months on end. In fact, their efficiency only stands to make them more prolific, having released more than 10 studio albums, eight EPs, a bunch of 7” records and a DVD as Thee Oh Sees and their former moniker Orange County Sound.
“We record live, all together and then we will – if we’re going to add a flute or an organ in – overdub that. But generally, we will do the whole band at once,” says Brigid Dawson over the phone from her home in San Francisco. “That’s why it has, I hope anyway, a feeling of one moment in time.”
Led by Dwyer, who is compelled to release albums with anyone and everyone, Thee Oh Sees are at the forefront of a San Francisco rock revival. Along with being the front man for the Coachwhips, Yikes! and The Hospitals, Dwyer also unearthed one of the movement’s best known exponents, Ty Segall, and is widely recognised as the driver in San Fran’s bustling new indie scene.
Dawson has been described as Thee Oh Sees’ silver lining – a soothing counterbalance to Dwyer’s individualist approach and a natural harmoniser and keyboard player. Thee Oh Sees is Dwyer’s most intelligible project so far and it’s often put down to Dawson’s effect on the songwriter. She shares an inexhaustible desire to release music and, together, they’ve forged a reputation for free flowing live shows devoid of set lists and structure. It’s an approach that is at home in San Francisco. “In a weird way, it’s similar to Melbourne,” says Dawson of her hometown.
“There are lots of collaborations between musicians, everyone is friends and everyone knows each other.”
Thee Oh Sees play on Australia Day (Monday January 28) at School House Studios, at The Hi-Fi Bar on January 31, and at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Melbourne on February 16.
We have a double pass to give away to see Thee Oh Sees at the Australia Day BBQ at School House Studios on January 28. To win email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with 'The Oh Sees' in the subject line.
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