Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, instrumental prog-rockers OHGOD have just released a stellar début album, The Great Silence. Following from the success of this release, the quartet are about to make their way to Europe to play dunk!festival (Zottegem, Belgium) and Pelagic fest (Berlin, Germany), as well as supporting metalcore giants Jinjer on a German tour.
I’m planning on making a very similar trip myself, so I reached out to the band for an interview.
Bassist Mark Woolfrey was super stoked to hear that his music had reached my ears as far away as New Zealand, and chatted with me about the recent album, upcoming tour, and plans for the future.
Image: Laura McCullagh
Will Not Fade: I really enjoy your sound. It is a hybrid of progressive metal and post-rock yet isn’t depressing. Who are some of your key influences?
Mark Woolfrey (bass): Wow New Zealand so rad! Thanks man glad you enjoy our music, it is always cool to know our music is traveling around. Influences are always a tough one to answer. As a band, we have a very eclectic range of music. It’s also hard to answer because a lot of the time we pull fragments from all over the show, not even just bands, sometimes a single song if that makes sense. If I had to pick one band. Pick or die type vibes, If These Trees Could talk was certainly a huge influence when we started writing together.
Sorry if this question makes you groan, but did you always set out to stay as an instrumental act when you started the band?
No worries! When OHGOD was born we started just writing and at the time we didn’t really even consider having a vocalist, not an intentional choice or anything, we were just focusing on the music. Then as things started coming together we kind of all came to the same point of “do we even want vocals?” It sort of gave us a whole lot of freedom as a band without a vocalist so we stuck with it..
Tell me about the South African Metal Music Awards.
The South African Metal Music Awards is a rad initiative here in South Africa that really tries to recognize specifically metal bands for their achievements. It’s also a great concept to bring together a growing but niche scene in SA. At the end of the day it’s just great to acknowledge bands for what they put in . We have found despite not being “metal” we have managed to find ourselves accepted in the metal scene which is pretty awesome. In short it is a really cool group from across the industry who run & organise the awards, each year they grow and improve things. We are pretty stocked to have taken a few awards home through the last few.
You have an amazing European tour coming up. South Africa and Germany are a long way from each other. How did this tour come about?
There is rather a lot of ocean and land between them haha. Well a long story short our manager Calvin does a great job at networking and talking to the right people. We have worked with him for long now, we kind of let him just do his own thing and he runs with it. He did what he does and got us on the lineup for Dunk! in Belgium and Pelagic in Berlin. Then we were super happy to partner with Turning Tricks Entertainment as our international agents who did what they do best. They came back to us with a number of dates through Germany supporting Jinjer on their Cloud Factories EU Tour 2018 with the rad dudes from The Dali Thundering Concept. So it was a great combo job of a great team and agents. Both move mountains for us.
Which acts are you most excited to see at dunk! and Pelagic festivals?
How long have you got?? haha. Can we just say both festivals and all the acts. Pretty much all the bands at both are on our playlists. We are all frothing over the headliners though.
Any guesses as to who the secret headliner for Pelagic fest is? My money is on The Ocean.
Hmmm yeah that’s a tough one we have also been trying to figure that one out. Not sure where we would put our South African Rands on that one.
It looks like you’ve been earning lots of slots for festivals. Do you approach festival sets differently to a standard gig?
We have been focusing a lot more on festivals recently as a band. It is the kind of shows we want to focus on more. We have also been given so many great opportunities in both SA and overseas, we are constantly looking to take our shows to the next level or stage. I think we do spend a lot more time in selecting a set. We have been focusing on building our set with a lot more additions outside of just our instruments though. Quite excited for that!
I’m super jealous that you’ve got to play with Karnivool multiple times over the years. I’ve only ever seen them once. My friends in Tides of Man have toured with them in the past as well. Tell me about opening for them!
We have actually only ever played with Karnivool once. Again mad props to Turning Tricks for bringing them over to SA. What can one even say after watching Karnivool haha. What a band, they know how to put one hell of a show they break you brain and they’re just sonic architects. We are all huge fans of them, so without sounding cliché jamming with was like a dream. Tides Of Man you say? Now that is another band we can’t get enough of.
You crowdfunded your recent album via Thundafund. How did you find that process, asking your fans to front up money for an album before you made it?
Yeah that was mind-blowing! We received such a big response and help with our Thundafund. It was actually quiet intimidating to be honest, it really puts you out there. You start questioning it like would we hit it would we not. It really felt like a gamble. It was kind of humbling to see so many people who believed in us though, some people went all out and donated crazy amounts. Thundafund really allowed us to focus on putting out the best album out that we could. We have some of the best fans from all over.
Obviously you should be super stoked on The Great Silence. How did his recording process differ from Forest Feuds?
Well the major difference was we recorded Forest Feuds as a live multi track where as The Great Silence we did the more traditional approach of recording. We certainly learned a lot from Forest Feuds and with The Great Silence we just felt it was time to crank it up things to the next level. We wanted to put out an album that we could be like yes we are happy with that. We also had the means to put out a better album with funds and being able to work with the people we wanted for different aspects of the album. Our own guitarist David really spearheaded the recording process and Dylan Ellis from Canada took care of the mastering. Both stellar dudes who know their stuff.
What made you decide to include cello on the track “Avalanche”?
Ah man there is something so awesome about a cello. It is just a majestic instrument. We would jam “Avalanche” and just be like we need to feature something in here. This track just needs something . A little musical salt and pepper. Then it was decided, it need some cello spice and that was it haha.
The track “Axiom Falls” featured in both your 2015 EP and the album you put out last year. Why did that song in particular get revisited?
It was just a song we really enjoined as a band, we kind of felt like we never really got to give it justice as a track on the EP. We ended up changing some bits here and there but it was still such a relevant track to all of us. Plus it kind of tied in perfectly with the album concept.
Which band member spends the most effort on his hair?
I don’t think anyone spends much time on their hair to be honest. We are just wash and go kind of dudes haha. Most of the dudes rock caps these days.
I see you posted about Star Wars on May the 4th. Which Star Wars film is your fave and why?
In all honesty, none of us are like crazy die-hard Star Wars fans (Unless you ask to see our managers leg – he’s another story). Episode I – The Phantom Menace is up there though for me!
How long did you take you to make the Bob’s Burgers “OHGOD!” montage?
OHGOD…OHGOD…OHGOD… just when you think you have heard your band name enough. Such a rad series that one. Surprisingly not as long as one would think we have a fair amount of help on that one to be honest.
You’ve just dropped a killer album and have an incredible international tour lined up. What can we expect next from OHGOD?
Well we want to focus on playing more festivals and start crossing more oceans as a band. Then when we get back from the EU we are going to start looking at writing some new music. We have some ideas of our next moves but we are going to sharing those quite yet.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I look forward to meeting you at dunk!fest in Belgium!
Awesome we look forward to meeting you there!!
Image: Laura McCullagh
OHGOD European tour dates
11 May – DUNK! FEST – Zottegem (BE)
15 May – MUSIK & FRIEDEN, Supporting Jinjer – Berlin (DE)
16 May – ROCKPALAST, Supporting Jinjer – Bochum (DE)
17 May – JUNGLE CLUB, Supporting Jinjer – Cologne (DE)
18 May – NACHTLEBEN, Supporting Jinjer – Frankfurt (DE)
20 May – PELAGIC FEST – Berlin (DE)
David Houston – Lead Guitar
Stefan Steyn – Guitar
Mark Woolfrey – Bass
Danny Harris – Drums