Southern sludgebastards Ohhms are gearing up to release their new album Exist later this year. Following extensive touring around the UK and Europe, it feels like a super-quick follow-up to 2017's tarot card-fuelled The Fool.
The plan was to take stock and start writing for a new project to be released in 2020," vocalist Paul Waller tells Metal Hammer. "Things got out of control though, and the fire in our bellies birthed a ton of new music a lot sooner than that!
Ohhms upcoming LP is scheduled for release in November, and this time it's based around animal rights/animal protection. We caught up with Paul in the studio as Ohhms were putting the finishing touches to an album born from a rapid yet vital writing session.
How do you feel about the previous album now you’ve lived with it for so long?
"I love it. We achieved everything that I wanted to achieve with the debut. From the packaging to the tracklist and flow of the album – it came out just right. I do regret how personal the lyrics got on the final song, The Hierophant, though, to the point where we don’t play it live anymore. I just can’t sing it every night. I was in a bad place when I wrote it and each time I hear it or we attempt to play it, it takes me straight back there."
How does the new album compare to The Fool?
"It’s punchier musically; 40 minutes rather than 60. The songwriting is snappier and far more in your face. There is very little subtlety on the new one."
Can fans expect more of the same from Ohhms?
"Mate, we haven't even got the same line up! I think if a band doesn’t move on then I lose interest in them quickly. Sure, keep one foot in the old, but that other foot should be out exploring. Always."
The Fool was released last year and you’re already working on the follow-up, what’s driving this creative focus?
"As I mentioned, I had a real fire in my belly about the the lyrical direction I wanted to head in – when I got going it just vomited out of me. I wrote pages and pages of prose over a week-long period, I showed the guys and asked if we could make a record about the topic like now, and they were all game."
The Fool was tied to an aesthetic of tarot cards. Will the new record have a central theme?
"It does yeah, it’s a concept that has four tracks. Each song revolves around a different aspect of animal rights and animal conservation."
What have you been listening to during the writing and recording process? Has this fed in to the new record?
"I live for Friday – that’s new album release day. I'm a music junkie to the point where each day I wish there was more hours in it so I can listen to more stuff. This year the new Portal and Septic Tank records have really ticked my heavy boxes, and the new SOPHIE album is filling up my pop quota as well. And there are just too many to mention in between.
"None of it has fed into what we do though, but thinking about it, maybe it all feeds into what we do. It’s hard to say. What I can say for sure is that the only reason we are doing this album is because no one else has done anything like it in recent times, not since maybe Crass. I feel like I had no choice but to get this out there as soon as possible."
What lyrical topics will the new record be exploring?
"That inspired week-long writing session I mentioned was honed down for months afterwards in the practice room; chipping away at the lyrics and adapting the music the guys came up with to fit the tone of my words. Animal testing, veganism, industrial farming and animal liberation all get a look in. But it's not simply a straight forward 'I am right and you are wrong,' outlook on things. For instance, a track called Shambles relates to the term ‘vegan’ itself and how self-righteous muppets use it as a weapon, just like the militant straight-edge kids would make sure you knew their views back in the day by shoving an X’d up hand in your face and slapping beers out of your grip.
"I'm not interested in pointless sloganeering. I ate meat until five years ago and then stopped as a personal choice – it doesn’t make me a better person than someone that eats sausages and eggs on a Sunday morning. I find that ridiculous. I found my own path."
Is there a particular mindset you need to enter in order to record an Ohhms album?
"For me it’s rage. It builds and builds and builds and then Ohhms let me vent. An Ohhms show resets me to normal."
What does the rest of the year hold for the band?
"The album will be out by the end of this year and in the meantime we're booking tours and art projects. Sometimes we just hook up in the practice room to play these songs for the love of playing them. That’s the point, right? To hang out with your friends and create music that I hope other people will enjoy it as much as I do."
Ohhms' new album Exist will be released November 9 via Holy Roar Records. Stay tuned for the first single on September 5.