Deep within Ontario, five musicians came together to create a band by the name of Odium. A few years later, this metal outfit signed with Year Of The Sun Records to release their debut offering, At The Bottom. Three years later Odium released their sophomore effort Burning The Bridges To Nowhere. Recently I got the chance to fire some questions off to vocalist Thomas Emmans who gave us insight into the new record. Check it out.
You guys have just put out your second full length Burning The Bridges To Nowhere. How’s the reception been so far?
Thomas: The reception so far has been awesome. People have been really diggin’ this new record. We definitely feel like we stepped it up. Our producer Greg Dawson of BWC studios really pushed us this time. I think the worst review we’ve gotten so far was 3.5 out of 5. It’s been mostly 4/5 or 8/10. Our first video for the song “No Way Out” from the new record was just on YouTube as a Blank TV exclusive and it has been doing really well. It was directed by Chad Archibald of Black Fawn Films and the attention it has been getting has really helped expose a lot of new fans to this record. It’s been really cool to see people and websites who aren’t even into the genres we are working within say either they don’t usually listen to this stuff but… either they like it or they see why other people would. Over all the feed back from fans as well as critics has been extremely positive and we are feeling really good about this album.
What made you guys decide to name the album Burning The Bridges To Nowhere?
Thomas: When we were making this album I was going through a strange time in my life. After we had come back from the road supporting the At The Bottom record we all fell back into the comfortable, complacent and secure lives we had lived before this big insane odyssey we had been pouring all of our energy into for the last of couple years had taken place and it was hard to do. It was like unleashing this fuckin’ monster we’d been building in our basement for years and seeing what it’s capable of just to watch it slowly go dormant again.
We all went back to mowing our lawns and working our 9-5 jobs full time again and almost all momentum from what we had done just died out. When we started writing this album I was very depressed and in a really dark place. Things only got worse from there. By the time we were recording again I was completely broke and living on my friend’s couch. I realized how I had held on to a lot of things that had completely destroyed me. The phrase “Burning the Bridges to Nowhere” is about letting go of the things you love that you can’t allow in your life. Whether it’s an addiction or a person or things about yourself that are keeping you down. This album is about freedom and self discovery. No matter how painful the transition, it was worth it.
Check out the song: “No Way Out”
Can you walk us through how an Odium song is written?
Thomas: There are a few ways we do it. For instance, Andrew works better alone. He likes to write all the riffs to a drum machine and is very touchy about having anything changed after. He takes a long time and is very meticulous with everything so there isn’t much we ever want to change anyways when he brings in a song. Then I’ll do vocals, Joe will do drums and Dale will do bass to it. Then it’s pretty much ready for the studio. Bo on the other hand will write a lot of stuff and not worry too much about his arrangements on his demos because he knows we’ll be ripping it apart. Joe and I will sit down either alone or with a couple of guys and cut and paste things until they fit.
Joe and Bo are very good at working in a group setting and writing on the spot so we’ll put it all together and they’ll write any extra riffs we need to bridge certain parts right there on the spot. Joe and I have always enjoyed working alone on a couple of tracks as well. We’ve been writing together since 2004 and always seem to work on the same wave length. On some tunes or even just parts of them, we like to work alone and then we’ll let the guys spice up the riffs we have once the basic mood and direction is there. Dale is usually the guy who likes to bring in some acoustic material as well as writing most of the bass lines.
Vocally the album gears more towards singing compared to the previous album At The Bottom. What made you decide to take on this role more?
Thomas: In all honesty it was never a choice I made at all. I sing when it calls for it and I never really thought about it until you mentioned it. I actually always felt like this album was heavier, but I guess that’s just because the heavier parts are way more brutal than our last CD. I don’t think there should ever be a formula like if we scream 37% less we will sell 82% more albums in our first quarter and therefore be be snorting coke off 23% more hookers asses within the next fiscal year. [laughs]
The songs had more melody so I sang a lot. I really like all the peaks and valleys on this record because as a singer who enjoys diversity, there was a lot to play with here. I truly do feel like the singing and screaming on this are the best I’ve ever done so far. I remember when I was in the studio, I was saying to our producer Greg that people always talk about my singing and overlook the screaming a lot of the time so we should really focus on stepping up the screams this time. He pushed me so hard I blew my voice out three times making this CD. He would say stuff like “Well that was cute and would have been a keeper on At the Bottom, but DELETE.”
What lyrical content do you cover?
Thomas: The song “Burning The Bridges To Nowhere” was the last song written for the album and was made when things were at their very worst for me personally and the lesson learned about letting go is described in a way that I am very happy with in that song. “Claw My Eyes Out” deals with some anxiety issues I had been struggling with. I hated going out in public and one day an old man with milky eyes and a crooked smile was staring blankly out the window at me. Have you ever felt like someone knew what you’re thinking?
It made me think about the me I was trying to portray as opposed to the me that was churning on the inside. I started thinking “Do other people feel like this?” “Is that suit over there really some phychotic fuck with daddy issues?” “Does that girl over there go home and tell herself how ugly she thinks she is in the mirror every night?” It made me think if this was my last day alive would the “me” I am projecting even matter? Or was the old man just staring into the sun? “A Ghost Upstairs” is about watching someone I love dearly decline into extreme mental “unhealth” and move away figuratively and literally. “Identity of the Doomed” simply begs the question “how will we be remembered in history?” While “The Descent” is a final mission statement on how I plan to carry myself from this record forward.
I am noticing you guys are starting an Odium trend where the last track is a ballad. What made you guys decide to have these finishing the albums?
Thomas: I have always really been into the powerful yet melodic last songs on records. Songs like “Hurt” on NIN The Downward Spiral and Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” closing Nevermind always had a huge impact for me. They were so dark and beautiful. Their bleak and foreboding nature only amplified by their placement within the album. They felt so final and to me they were some of the heaviest tracks on those albums. I wanted to try to do that with “The Abyss Stared Back” and I am very pleased with how it turned out. With “The Descent” we actually wanted to try to not repeat ourselves in this way. We tried different placements within the track listing, but nothing really fit. I think it’s better to go with what works as opposed to doing something shitty just to be different so we put it last again where it would fit the best. I do really like having these tracks at the end but I don’t think it’s something we’ll beat to death either.
Do you find it tricky to jump out of your element for these?
Thomas: Actually this is our element in a way. I am originally a classically trained singer. Doing these epic sweeping songs with orchestra and huge vocal parts is what I was trained to do. Dale absolutely loves playing acoustic and always has plenty to bring to the table on these type songs. It’s not what we’re known for but we are very much at home on these tracks.
Check out the album: “Burning The Bridges To Nowehere”
I recently saw you guys in Ajax, ON and you guys have really upped your live show compared to past live events I have seen. How did you guys take yourselves to the next level live?
Thomas: We rehearsed these songs a lot before we went back out on the road because they are technically much more difficult than our previous efforts. The biggest, most important thing we’ve done though is play a lot of shows. You don’t become a better performer by playing in your basement. There is only one way to learn how to perform better and that is to get out there on the road and do it every night you can. I’ve also slowed down on the booze and started doing basic work out routines in the morning which focus on cardio to improve endurance on stage.
Your name Odium, how did it come about to naming the band this?
Thomas: I found it in a book in 2006 about outcasts being able to change their surrounding through feelings of “odium”. I looked it up and it means extreme hatred and disgrace. Their rage gave them the means to change their situation. I was a pretty pissed off 18 year old at the time and I remember really connecting with that. Believing that I could change my life with angry music about all the shit I hate and incorporating that into the very name of the project is something I can still stand behind today. Which is good because what they never tell you is that a band name is like a tattoo. You’re stuck with that shit. Even if you find out later that there’s at least 10 other bands out there with the same tattoo. [laughs]
What are you plans for 2012?
Thomas: We’re just booking as many shows as we can right now. We’ve got a new publicist and a new booking agent so we plan to be touring this Fall as well as pushing the new video really hard. We’ll probably do another video in a couple of months and be doing weekends and tours well into 2013. This album could be huge for us and we don’t plan on wasting any opportunities this time around.