Interview: Ovlov Discuss ‘Tru’, Influences, and Future Plans

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Henderson spoke with vocalist, songwriter and guitarist of Ovlov, Steve Hartlett, about the band’s return from their hiatus, their new album Tru, and their plans for a full US tour and even more records in the near future. Take a read below while you listen to some singles from the excellent new record (which is streaming now on Hype Machine).

First off, why don’t we talk about the new album, Tru. Its been a while since your last release, were these new songs written recently or were they spread out in the few years since your AM?

The majority of them were written in the last 2 to 3 years, but there’s a couple on there that are even as old as the first stuff. Some as far back as 6 or 7 years ago that were some of the demos for the first record.

Wild, so you’ve had a lot of time to think about this release then I guess. Is there any track on there that you are particularly proud of how it came out?

“Short Morgan”, I’m proud of. I just think that one came out perfectly in terms of performance and production. Yeah, it just seems to be my favorite across the board.

Is there a difference for when you are writing for Ovlov or Stove stuff, or is it just how it comes out differently depending on the rest of the band?

Yeah, I’d say both start the same. I don’t always know from the beginning if its going to be for Stove or Ovlov. I guess what it comes down to for me is picturing either how Theo, my brother, the drummer of Ovlov or Jordan, the drummer for Stove, will play drums for it. There’s definitely a heavier more punk aspect to the Ovlov stuff, so there are some songs, I know from the get go what it will be for sometimes. I guess it’s just depending on the vibe of them and what I want them to end up sounding like.

Nice, I’d figure that working with different people in the band would lead to at least a slightly different resulting sound. There were a bunch of Ovlov songs that I’ve heard you play in live sessions or playing live, like “Moron” or “Cheer Up“ for instance. Are there a bunch of these Ovlov songs that are floating around and do you think we will ever see them on a release?

Yeah, I would say eventually. We have recorded “Cheer Up” a few times and just haven’t used it for anything yet. But that’s eventually going to be out on a split 7” with some friends of ours. We’ve been playing that for years now, that’s just kind of been on the backburner.

“Moron” is one of the oldest songs. I wrote that before Ovlov was even a band, actually. I guess when we decided we definitely wanted to do a second album, we went through all the demos that I had over the course of the past 10 years. We were just trying out some of the ones that we always liked but hadn’t done anything with, and some of them still needed some work, to be developed more.

Its weird, sometimes I’ll write a song and not like it for like 5 years, and then I’ll realize that I actually do like this, we should do something with it. But everything will eventually be out. Whether it’s the next album or like 20 years from now. I would like for everything we’ve written to eventually be put out. Hoping to get to it before something else happens.

Nice! You never know with Ovlov stuff when it will be out officially. It keeps the fans on edge.

Yeah, and it helps me out when I worry about not being able to write the same way, when I have songs from that long ago that we can still use. I don’t want to call them fillers, because I still like them, but it helps me get back to that point in my life, mentally.

1 of the features I’ve always liked in your stuff, Ovlov and otherwise, is the guitar work. I was wondering how you got into playing guitar and what kind of music did you listen to that helped you develop that style.

Hmm, lets see. When I was like 14, Rancid was my favorite band, and I kind of set them aside from other pop punk bands like that, because while most bands were playing power chords, but they were playing the actual chords and that just sounded so much more full and melodic.

And then when I was like 15 or 16, I discovered the band Mew from Denmark and that, I think, was the biggest impact on me. Just in as far as, I had never heard anyone play guitar like they do, particularly on And The Glass Handed Kites. Just really strange rhythms and chords.

And then soon after that I heard Dinosaur Jr. and the tones and the solos came into play once I started listening to them more. Definitely some very important things learned from all of them.

Getting more into your personal music taste, what are some bands that maybe didn’t even influence you or anything but that you’ve personally enjoyed?

My favorite most recent band is this band from Philly, Blue Smiley. Just one of the most beautiful bands I’ve ever heard. Nothing even to compare them too. It feels rarer for me when bands have totally their own sound. Obviously, there are influences, but they don’t sound specifically like any other band.

I’ve been really into Lomelda, I discovered them like a year or two ago, and that’s been one of my favorite bands to listen to lately.

And then most importantly recently, is a band from the early 80’s called Prefab Sprout. Just one of the weirdest band I’ve ever heard. It’s like brilliant pop songs with the strangest layering. They have a lot of material and I still haven’t made my way all the way through all of it, but I haven’t not liked anything yet. It almost sounds like if a band came out now and was trying to have an 80’s sound.

Wow, I’ve never even heard of them I will have to check them out after this. Prefab Sprout, what a band name. This is more of a fun question but if you could get an Ovlov song in any film or TV series, what would be the ultimate best place to hear your music?

Woah, I’ve never really thought about this, and I spend most of my life watching movies and TV, so I should have thought about this before. Honestly, South Park. I grew up watching that as a kid, and always thought if I was ever made fun of on South Park in some way I would know that I’d have made it.

Every kid dreams of being on a cartoon I think. Expanding on that a bit, outside of music what are some of your interests?

Well, for work the last 10 years I’ve been screen-printing, mostly tee shirts. I really got into that. That’s really been one of the only things outside of music that I’ve been good at. It’s really a satisfying line of work. You can see what you did, and it’s all about feeling and rhythms. I do shirts for Ovlov and Stove and a bunch of friends’ bands: Washer, Big Ups, Bethlehem Steel. A lot of work goes into those shirts that you wouldn’t even think of, just even in designing them.

Keeping the band tee history alive. I think that’s one of the most underrated things about DIY music culture is the screen-printed tee shirts. So just to touch back on the new album, with that coming out soon, do you have any plans for any tours coming up?

Nothing is set in stone at the minute. We’re playing some of the last Two Inch Astronaut shows coming up, and then we’re trying to do as much of the US as possible in either October or November, which will be good because we’ve never toured further west than Chicago and Texas. So there’s a great chunk of the country we have not seen, in fact probably a majority of it.

Wow, so the first ever west coast Ovlov tour dates? Is that really possible somehow?

Yeah, that’s what we are planning on. Its kind of ridiculous August 8th will be our 10th birthday as a band and we really should have gone out there by now.

Now that you mention that, you’ve been in Ovlov for 10 years, and you’ve been in the indie music scene for longer, so how do you think things are now as how they compared to 10 years ago, from your experience and the experience of the bands that are your friends? How does it compare to 10 years ago do you think?

Well, hmm. It’s just that we’ve changed, and our friends have changed, and everything around us has changed, so we are kind of forced to just work with what we have. For us, I think it’s become cool for people to say they don’t like us now, at least with my friends. A lot of my friends have been a lot more honest with me which is nice, which is kind of relieving.

I guess, just getting older is weird, a lot has changed whether or not we would have liked it to. Money becomes more important the older you get, and it seems like you always need more the older you get, and I feel like we are not able to do as much because of that. Now that everyone is out of school and paying off loans or rent and bills, we can’t do all these things and play these shows that we used to just do for fun because we don’t have the money or time.

I feel like the majority of the time we were a band, we never had to say no to anything, and now I guess that’s something I miss. I guess that’s kind of vague. But yeah, even now a tour is a gamble. You never really know how well each show is going to do. Although we are always not very good with our spending. We try to use our tours as a vacation and is a risk now. I guess it always has been.

The risk is maybe the same, but the stakes are higher when you have to afford rent when you get home.

Yeah, life starts right away.

Well its good to hear that you’re back and playing shows and releasing music as Ovlov. You’ve already mentioned this a bit, but are you already starting to think about the next Ovlov album after this or is it just about releasing this one and seeing how it goes?

Pretty much since we recorded this (Tru), which was now like a year and a half ago. We’ve already written a significant amount since we recorded that, and I’m already even a bit more excited about these new songs than the ones that are about to come out.

Tru is out 7/20. You can preorder it at the Exploding In Sound merch store.


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Henderson Cole // @HendoSlice

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