Interview with Jason Achilles Mezilis of OWL

[Originally posted on UK Arts Directory 14/7/15]

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I’ve been following LA/NY-based rock band Owl—Chris Wyse (vocals / bass), Jason Achilles Mezilis (guitar), Dan Dinsmore (drums)—for a few years now and this is a band that fascinates me because their music is completely different to anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s heavy, it’s rock, it’s progressive, eclectic, and everything in between. I’ve really enjoyed their first two albums, “Owl” and “The Right Thing”, so I was thrilled to hear they have a new E.P. coming out.

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“Things You Can’t See” is a six-track E.P. due to be released on the 28th of July 2015. I’ve been lucky enough to have heard a pre-release version, and I can confirm that it is as brilliant as the other two Owl offerings. If anything, with this new album Owl have substantiated the fact that they are a musical force to be reckoned with. I find their music hard to define. It shifts from melodic to heavy to grungy without warning and each song is a very unusual and different but somehow the sound comes together to create something extraordinary and songs you can definitely get excited about.

You can pre-order the album at the following links:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/things-you-cant-see-ep/id1015165748

Band website (package): http://owltheband.bigcartel.com/product/pre-order-package

 

I recently caught up with Jason Achilles Mezilis, Owl’s guitarist, to find out more about the new E.P. and the band’s current plans.

Interview with Jason Achilles Mezilis of Owl

Jason-Achilles-Mezilis-Yoko-Morimoto-1024x682[photo: Yoko Morimoto]

Hi Jason! You have a new album coming out on July 28th. “Things You Can’t See” is made up of 6 very individual tracks. I think Owl’s music is unique/difficult to define. How would you describe it to someone who’s never heard any music by Owl?

Hi Maria…good to talk to you again, and yes I would agree it’s kind of hard to pin down. Owl is definitely a hard rock band, but yeah there’s obviously a lot more to it than that – progressive elements, atmospheric elements, a certain melodic approach and fuck-all rhythmic aggression. I find myself in the same position, honestly…I don’t really know how to answer that either!

Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

The album is excellent. I like all the songs and because they’re all so different, it’s hard to pick a favourite as they all have something great in them. Do you have a favourite track, and if so, why?

Well, thank you for saying so. If I had to pick a favorite I’d go with the opening track, which is the title track “Things You Can’t See.” The second half of that tune in particular is really fun to play live. And overall, it captures all the elements of this band that I enjoy pretty well in one quick snapshot.

If you had to pick one Owl song from all 3 releases to define the band, which one would you choose, and why?

I’d say “Violent Center“ off our first record. It’s similar to the song I just mentioned in that it covers a lot of ground in one tune, and it’s a really damn good, well written song. We often times will end our live set with it.


A great song, and it looks like that video was fun to make!

I heard that “Things You Can’t See” wasn’t written before you got to the studio, but you all basically jammed together and came up with the songs. Is that right? How did that compare to going into the studio with the songs ready?

It is right, but more so by comparison to how the other records were realized. There is still a necessary structure that has to be imparted in the process, it just lent itself to a lot more freedom in the sense of arrangement and everyone’s individual stamp. All of us: Chris Dan and myself, are pretty much continuously thinking of the songs and ideas in terms of how they will ultimately translate on the recording so it’s not a “jam session” like you get with a bunch of guys just going at it, as a random throw-and-go.

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[photo: Carl Mahoney]

Owl has a string of U.S. summer tour dates. How are fans reacting to the new music?

So far it’s been fantastic. I honestly haven’t heard a single negative comment yet about the new material. Everyone seems to really dig it. It’s cool.

Do you have a favourite Owl track to play live?

Our typical set opener, “The Right Thing” off the second album of the same name, is a real barn-stormer to come out with every night. I really love opening the eyes and ears of the crowd with that one. We really kill that tune. It’s a great, confident feeling to step on stage with.

 

Does Owl have plans to tour or play any gigs/festivals in Europe/UK?

We’ve been discussing that as a possibility for next year. It’s a ways off still, but it’s something on our minds as a realistic goal.

That would be fantastic!

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[photo: Carl Mahoney]

You’ve made some great music videos in the past, any plans to produce some for the new songs?

Yes, we have a music video for “Who’s Gonna Save You Now” that we will be releasing soon.

Excellent, I’ll be looking out for it 🙂

What have been some of Owl’s highlights so far?

Our very first show together was opening up for Helmet at the Viper Room in Hollywood. That was a crazy fucking night for me, I can tell you that. It was great. Sensory overload, haha!

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[photo: Carl Mahoney]

If Owl could tour with any other band, which would you choose?

There are so many great bands out there we have been lucky to play with. I couldn’t pick just one, or even just ten. But there are always new surprises – bands you haven’t thought of that turn out to be a great matchup. I know for me personally, King’s X would be a great one. Or Tool. Bands that are respected for the musicianship, as well as the songwriting and connection with their fans. That’s the best scenarios for us. I’m stoked for the upcoming shows we have with PHILM, for sure.

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Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1599115420342655/

Your last album was also released on vinyl. That seems to be becoming more popular. Which do you prefer when you buy music, vinyl, CD, or download?

My favorite medium for records was cassette tapes, from back when I was a kid mainly because you could physically abuse them and it would still be cool. Throw ‘em across the room, leave ‘em on the dashboard of your car, sit on one by accident. Plus you don’t have to worry about fingerprints or dust. I’m very rough with most delicate things in my possession, so cassettes were a good way to go for me. Plus they would play back differently on different systems. Sometimes the bottom end would be different if you wedged a piece of cardboard in the player with them, or the pitch would waver up or down a bit depending how the tape machine playback was functioning. It was fun.

Ha, ha! Cassettes were also my favourite. It took me a long while to finally buy anything on CD because I loved tapes so much, and people used to mock me because of it. Happy to finally find a fellow cassette freak. 🙂

You play many instruments, which one do you prefer to play, and are there any that you can’t play that you would like to?

Piano was my first. I got quite good at it and then guitar came later in high school. It was loud and amazing and free, and it took over for a while. Piano has come back into the forefront lately with a ragtime project I’m working on with a friend of mine. That stuff is super fun and challenging to play. Guitar will always be awesome, it’s such an expressive instrument. I used to sit on the edge of my bed and just play one note, over and over…I mean we’re talking hours here…bending, squeezing, trying to get it to sound just right. Far as other, newer instruments for me, maybe clarinet someday. I love the tone of the instrument. I’ve tried a bit but nothing worthwhile to report yet.

wZk5YPiUC54X_i1vW9MHzktOjoUJcxXEnOSwpSOlG9Y[photo: Carl Mahoney]

 

Any other news for your fans?

Owl will have more shows to announce soon. And we sincerely love and appreciate all the genuine and support, so thank you. We’ll keep making it worth your while. It’s all about the fans – wouldn’t be much fun without you!

Thanks, Jason! Hoping to see Owl in the UK sometime! 🙂

Keep up with all of Owl’s news:

Website: http://owltheband.net/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/owltheband

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebandOwl

[Originally posted on UK Arts Directory 14/7/15]

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