Overcasters favor exhilarating atmospheres over utter starkness
With incandescent whorls of melodic sound and synapse-tingling dynamics, Overcasters are reinventing a classic sound pioneered by bands in the Paisley Underground and the British post-punk bands that favored shimmery, exhilarating atmospheres over utter starkness. Fronted by Kurt Ottaway, formerly of Tarmints and Twice Wilted, this band aims for uplifting moods rather than the harrowing sonic mayhem of Ottaway's previous projects. We caught up with Ottaway and John Nichols in advance of the release of their debut album, Revolectrocution, and discussed the emotional content of the music as well as the logic of the band's signature light shows.
Westword: How did you come up with the name Overcasters?
Kurt Ottaway: I just liked the name. But originally I had this crappy Fender guitar. It was supposed to be a Telecaster, and my roommate at the time came in and asked, "What the hell is that guitar you're playing?" And I said, "It's actually an Overcaster." We're definitely a rain band. Some days you get up and the sun is shining and then the day changes. It's right at that time the day changes and moves into something different — that's sort of the message of the band. It could be clouds covering the sun.
When you started the band, you said that the music was going to be driven by love instead of some of the other emotions that seemed to inform the music of your previous bands. Why is that?
KO: I just don't believe in inflicting the damage of my damaged psyche on the world anymore. I would rather convey a message of hope than one of despair. There's enough negativity around me, and I've embraced that for long enough. Not that I don't have negative moments in my life, but I don't like to dwell on them. I don't like to embrace them for the sake of trying to purge. I don't need it anymore.
John Nichols: In the arrangements of the music, there's always an element of being triumphant. If it explodes, it's something over on the beautiful side of things rather than on making it worse. The stuff I've always done is to paint things as they should be rather than be observant of things as they are. There's enough of that out there, and I'd rather have a little bit of an imaginative, hopeful content to the music rather than purely document the ugliness.
Is there a rhyme and reason to your use of projections during the live show?
JN: They can support or put forward what's going on with the song. You need to remove people from their immediate surroundings. It puts us into that experience. Sometimes even during rehearsal we have that stuff going on.
What do you hope someone coming to one of your shows or listening to your record gets out of it, if anything?
KO: The biggest compliment that I ever got from a fan was a smile that lasts for hours. If it's silent in the room and people are smiling, I've done my job.
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