Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with ofHuman

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with ofHumanIt is getting to the point where I am running out of bands to interview. Better yet, it is getting to the point that I am running out of bands that I have heard of to work with. Not too long ago I posted a message on Twitter and Facebook asking my readers and friends if they knew anyone in a band that would like some added exposure. I got plenty of leads and have actually been interviewing all of those bands since. But the band that I have with me today is one that comes from a true supporter of good music. I worked with Stacey Kuzda on some press passes for a show last year at BoMA and had not really heard from her since. But when I posted this message about needing a band to interview she was right there. She introduced me to the guys that I am sitting with today. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to a true rock band. These guys are as nice as they are talented. Sit back and hag out with the guys from ofHuman.

Where did you come up with that name?

ofHuman was a name we conjured up after deciding that we wanted something different, capitalizing the “H” and making the name one word. We prefer to let the listener decide what it means to them (sort of like what Hoobastank does?), but while out at shows, we are walking around in the crowd before and after we play, mingling new and old friends. We like to keep relationships with our fans on a personal level as much as possible by always being available at our merch table so we can stay real people that fans can chat with and learn more about us as people, too. It feels that sometimes bands/artists tend to reach a level where they become out of reach – they show up in a bus, play the show and are immediately back on their bus to the next show. It makes them seem intangible to the fans.

How long have you guys all known each other?

As friends, we have known each other for anywhere from four to eleven years but as ofHuman, we will have been a band for two years in May.

Where did you all meet?

Josh and I have played music together since I first got my drum set back in 1999 (about eleven years). Stephen (his real name is Cletus, although he would argue with me on that), Dave and I attended Hilliard Darby High School and Cletus and Dave met Josh through me in high school.

That album cover is incredible. Who designed that?

Thanks! (We like it, too!) Josh collaborated with our good friend Brian Kozicki on the idea for the artwork, who has also designed two of our MySpace layouts and is our photographer.

Any reason why she has no mouth?

The concept behind “…all the plastic arts” is an idea we came up with after years of playing around many venues and learning about the different levels of talent and success through many people in the music business and our attempt to keep music on a more real level. We have found out, through the grape vine and first hand experiences, that there are many ways to “make” a band in the studio. Not always, but in a lot of cases, a band can be made out to sound exceptional on their album yet their live performance is mediocre and not really one to remember.

Since ofHuman prides itself on creating music in the studio that we can recreate live, we never want to be known as “that band”. While it is important to have a great stage performance that people want to come see over and over again and will remember forever, we would rather work our butts off every day at rehearsal to improve parts that need work and focus on every single element of our music in order to be successful than to use studio guitar and vocal tracks for our live show due to the fact that we are unable to perform the music to our best capabilities. Josh, Cletus and Dave sing all vocal harmonies live and we play every note on guitar, bass and drums ourselves which puts the pressure on us to always be on top of our game and at our best – and we thrive under pressure! This might sound crazy to someone who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about music behind the scenes and in the studio, but, some producers actually play instrumental and/or vocal parts on albums due to lack of ability and drive of some members of “that band”.

She has no mouth which represents the fact that if a band can’t even play their own instruments, they probably don’t have a lot of say in how the music will sound and pretty much become puppets controlled by record labels. We write our own music, play our music and promote it all ourselves, therefore dictating how our music will evolve, come across live and control every aspect. I know that I personally could not feel confident about the fact that I am trying to make music for a living and know that I can’t even play my own drum parts. This is one reason why we, ofHuman, like to jam everyday together as well as remain best friends – brothers from other mothers, if you will. We like to be as musically tight as we possibly can and, by being best friends, this helps keep our dream of playing music forever real because we are all on the same page.

The actual disc was printed to look and feel like an old vinyl record. The concept of the vinyl look was to represent music when it was real like Zeppelin or the Beatles. Those bands had pretty much one take to get the part right or they had to start over. Their albums are very live sounding (if you listen close, there are even flaws present, too.) The landscape on the cover represents an abandoned, overgrown ghost town representing a lot of popular music now-a-days that strays from the “realness” of how music used to be back in the days of Zepp and Beatles. Even though at that time there were advances in technology like multi-track recording, the technology was not even close to that of today’s technology where a producer could literally program an entire drum part on a song without the drummer even setting foot inside a studio and make the music perfect. Of course, it is beneficial to take advantage of the technology of today, but never are these programs used to make ofHuman out to be something we are not. There will be parts that are flawless and there will be mistakes that are made…but after all, we are still human.

Where are you originally from?

Josh and I are from Columbus and Hilliard, Ohio. Cletus was born in Ohio and moved to Florida then back to Ohio, and Dave was born in Lancaster, Ohio.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

That would probably be a different answer from each of us, but we could probably all agree to move somewhere else where music is in more demand than the Columbus local scene. But, this does not deter us from keeping up our drive to get to the next level. We work with what we have and always try our best!

I notice you play a lot in Ohio. Ever venture out much and play other cities?

We try. But venturing farther than Cleveland or Dayton becomes a matter of risk for the venues who tend to not want to pay anything until you have played there five or six times or if it is cover music. It is also important to build a large fan base here locally and start selling out venues like Newport Music Hall. Then, we could think more seriously about trying to tour and have the tour be most beneficial for us and be marketed correctly. We are confident that this will one day come true for us.

Do you have a job outside of music?

Josh does landscaping, Cletus serves at Applebee’s, Dave is a security guard and I work at the Ohio State University.

I love that MySpace design. Who did that again?

His name is Brian Kozicki of Kozicki Photography, LLC. He has become one of our best friends and is a very talented guy.

Speaking of MySpace, what are your thoughts on the service?

MySpace is a great networking tool, as is the Internet in general. But, now-a-days, there is a lot of spam. It is also hard to gauge actual success because people have created programs to add fake spam friends and falsify plays. For example, a few months ago, the Top Artist in Columbus was some young kid who had twenty friends on MySpace and had one rap song on his site that had some twelve million plays in two months…has Lady Gaga even accomplished these numbers?

Are you on Twitter?

Of course. Follow us!

Who are some of your influences?

Musical inspirations come from bands like Foo Fighters, The Mars Volta, Between The Buried and Me, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones to name a few. These inspirations are not used to imitate their sounds, but rather we use them to try and think how they may have thought when writing songs. Most of the bands above have been around for a long time and their music is still hanging around…lasting. We try to create lasting music. We always avoid being sucked into a genre that is already at its peak and will dry up in a few years and forgotten.

If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, whom would you meet and why?

We would love to meet Dave Grohl, currently of Foo Fighters and Them Crooked Vultures, formerly of Nirvana. He writes, sings, plays guitar, plays drums, loves fresh pots of coffee and he is from Ohio. As you can see, ofHuman and Mr. Grohl have a lot in common and would be a great pair to go on a huge universal tour, to other planets even!

(Dave…hey…if you read this…we love and worship you, but were not crazy – we swear! Just remember we would be more than willing to open for you at no cost…and I make a mean fresh pot of coffee. Call us! 614-580-8665!)

Where can I get some ofHuman merchandise?

For now, merchandise is available through us by mail or at any one of our shows. Our website will be up and running in a few weeks and we will have merch available via the site. Our music is available on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody – you name it, it is probably on there.

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career what song would you pick?

We no doubt would play the best song in the world! We have yet to write it though…it is in the works!

How did you react to the passing of the King of Pop?

We were actually recording in the studio and read the news around two o’clock. We didn’t believe it at first, but turned on CNN and it was all over the TV. It seemed pretty surreal and very sudden. We were of course saddened by his passing but at the same time thankful that he has done all he has for the music industry! Rest in peace Michael.

Who has the most tattoos in the band?

Josh has a full right arm sleeve (3/4 finished thanks to music sucking our bank accounts clean with constant new purchases!), two on his left arm and a tat on his calf, planning on getting a tramp stamp on his lower back – so hot! I am in a close second place with one on my left inner bicep. Cletus and Dave haven’t had the balls enough to get one yet.

Describe your genre in one word.

Straightforwardrockmusicthatfeelsgoodandthateveryonecanrelateto.…does that count?

Who is the ringleader of the group?

It depends on what area you mean. When it comes to establishing connections, I take care of most of that – booking, merchandise, business, etc. When it comes to writing, it is usually either Josh or Dave coming up with a riff or just all of us jamming on random ideas. If a song feels right and sounds good, we work on it until it is perfect. If it doesn’t feel right at that time, we keep it in a safe place in our mind to be used at a later date when the time is right for that song. This is a team effort though and definitely would not be possible without all four of us.

What is the biggest crowd that you have ever played for?

1,200 people at a local fundraiser.

The smallest?

Twenty. Only bands and parents showed up to a show about four years ago in a previous band. (That venue is no longer.) Regardless, 1 person or 1,000,000 – we always put on the best show possible because who knows, that one person could be the CEO of Sony Records. By the way, do you have his name and number? We’re looking for a strong label to take us on.

If someone offered you a record deal, let’s say for $500,000, but it was someone else’s lyrics and it was a country album, do you do it?

We have wrestled with questions like this in the past. The reason we would agree to this would be that many bands give up some of their creative freedoms to establish a name and eventually move on to indie labels where they then have freedom to write whatever they please because they have proven that they can sell albums. Therefore, the band is no longer a risk to labels. (Take Darius Rucker and Hootie and the Blowfish, for example.) It often means they get to travel and play music – traveling is one goal we want to accomplish. So, while we may have to suffer through music we may not choose as a primary interest (and the condition above that we eventually would have freedom to move on as we pleased was agreed upon), we may consider it in order to establish ourselves as talented musicians.

The reason we would not agree to this would be that we do not want to be known as fakes who are sell outs and only want to get rich quick – because in the end, bands still have to sell albums, and sell a lot in order to start breaking even, and that could take years. And, we are not in this business to be a get rich quick scheme! We would be happy to continue working hard on our own music to someday make it big with what we create. Then again, I have heard big names like Rhianna and Beyonce (first two I could think of) who thanked their producers on the MTV Music Awards. Even though they are probably performing music that they want to perform, if they were lucky enough, they might, at the point they are in their careers, just now have received partial credit to writing their lyrics. But that is for their bank accounts to know and for us to keep writing!

Fortunately for us, ofHuman is a band about playing what feels good, not always what is popular. We are not stuck in one genre of sound and are able to play anything and everything, helping our fan base to consist of fans who love heavy metal to those who love country. And, while royalties go to whoever wrote the words, we know that there is way more that goes into music. Lyrics are only 25%. Guitars, bass and drums are also a very important part of the music for us, which is why we feel it is pretty bogus that “lyrics” are the only part recognized and paid on. Oh well. If you listen to our tunes (which we recommend everyone does after the interview is over!), you will hear a song that is bluesy, dirty rock called Bullshark, one that is a ballad called Inseparable, and one that is straight forward rock called Shoot From the Hip – all three are very different but distinct to ofHuman’s sound. The way we write music is just to create sounds and rhythms that feel good. Country music is not an area we have explored yet*, but if it feels right and represents ofHuman well, there is no limit on what type of music we may play. We find that if we write music that doesn’t bore us personally on stage and doesn’t sound like everything else that is popular, people tend to stay more interested in what is going on, therefore bringing fans out time and time again while earning new fans in the process!

Who writes all of the lyrics?

Lyrics are usually written by Josh since he is the one who has to remember them all. It is easiest for him to write and remember as he goes. But, in the future, we will be on expanding our ideas and incorporating more of each member’s ideas for songs lyrically and musically.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Knock on wood, nothing too embarrassing has happened. There is the occasional forgetting of words or dropping of a pick or stick, but other than that, not much. I wish I could tell something more entertaining!

What are you drinking on stage?

Water! We stay sober to give the crowd the best bang for their buck and we will not be seen as anything but at our best. The party doesn’t start until after the show, and that’s if we’re not too tired to party…some kind of rock stars eh?

Do you guys have a favorite venue?

We do not have a favorite venue, but the Newport Music Hall has a great location and the Alrosa Villa is where we first started playing.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Hopefully sitting on a tour bus getting ready to go on stage for a tour promoting our new album of that time!

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

Keeping true to what we believe in and for writing good, lasting music. We are dedicated to what we do and passionate about music. Our dream is to be successful and happy playing music while making other people want to listen to what we write about, too.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Interviews like these are fun and thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our thoughts and beliefs! Actions do speak just as loud as words. If you have not yet been to an ofHuman show, come out and see what we are about. Hopefully, you will see that we live up to what we speak of. Listen to our music and please give us your honest feedback! Share our name your friends; we want their feedback, too! If we don’t know what we are doing well or where we are sucking, how can we continue making good music or improve on our weak points? Music is all about the fans because, no matter how happy we are behind our instruments and on stage, without fans to motivate us, there would be no reason to always work as hard as we do and play shows.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us from the beginning and to those future fans who do not know of us…yet (if we are lucky enough to win you over!) We may be in a rock band and can & will rock your face off! But, don’t be shy – come say hello, come party with us, come be a friend! They say nice guys finish last. We respectfully disagree and say nice guys play in ofHuman. See you at the next show. Keep it real and rockin’!