DS Interview: Boston’s OC45 sounds off on touring, recording, and “Robbery”

I first caught on to Boston’s OC45 when I saw them play the Middle East upstairs a couple years ago, and I was instantly hooked.  They play catchy songs with an edge, and they don’t take themselves too seriously despite gaining increased recognition as a touring punk band.  Lucky for me, I get to say I knew them before they were famous, as they may very well be someday, and I got to sit down with the foursome for an interview before they leave for a tour that will take them to Montreal’s Pouzza Fest and Punk Rock Bowling.  Keep on reading below to find out how they got started, how they stay friends on the road, and maybe something about that band name…

Dying Scene: How did you guys get together?

Adam: Derek and I met at the University of New Hampshire; we were introduced through a mutual friend and one night at a party a Suicide Machines song came on the stereo. Derek picked up a guitar and started playing along with it and at that moment, I was like, “I’m starting a band with that dude!” [laughter]

Derek: Nick and I grew up together, and both got into music around the same time. We had a band in high school, we practiced every day but never played a show. We never thought it would come to this!

Nick: I was mainly a guitar player growing up, but played a little of everything over the years. When OC45 started, we needed a bassist, so that’s where I wound up.

Kory: I was a referral from our friends in Burning Streets, I had just finished high school a week before our first practice. They started calling me “Rookie” because I was the new guy, which then turned to “Rook” which eventually stuck. [laughter]

DS: What kind of background did you have in music?

Kory: I come from a very musical family, my dad is a musician. I grew up listening to Kiss and a lot of classic rock. I played a lot jazz in high school along with some blues and R&B. Adam: I took piano lessons when I was very young, couldn’t read music so I quit. Then I took up trumpet, couldn’t read music so I quit. Then I started listening to punk rock, got a guitar when I was 16 and discovered guitar tabs. Still can’t read music but so far it has worked out!

DS: Where did the name OC45 come from, and what does it mean?

Adam: When Derek and I were playing in college, we got booked to play a show at the University of New Hampshire and made up a name to use for the show: Old Crow and the 45s. We made a logo and just went with it. Then Old Crow Medicine Show threatened to sue us. Since we probably wouldn’t have stuck with the name anyways, we just shortened it to OC45.

Nick: Everyone thinks “OC” stands for Orange County or oxycontin or something.

Derek: Our song “G.C.R.P.” actually stands for “Geriatric Crow Remedy Performance,” which was basically a fuck you to Old Crow Medicine Show for suing us.

DS: Your first release was a full-length album, 2012’s Class and Cruelty. Your latest release was an EP, 2013’s When It Hits. Why’d you choose to cut down the length?

Derek: We released Class and Cruelty right before we went on tour in May of 2012. After a quiet year, we wanted to get something out quickly. We also want to start putting out shorter, more regular releases and really focus on making the songs better. Also, Q Division Studios [who have produced Street Dogs and Dropkick Murphys] is a little expensive… for good reasons. so it’s a little easier on the bank account to get in for four or five songs versus twelve.

DS: How has your sound changed on this new release?

Derek: It’s the same general framework, but we’ve gotten better.

Kory: We’ve matured…

Adam: …musically, not as people [laughter]. We got more creative. People call us musicians now, which is still weird to hear. We’re better at our instruments and better at working with each other. We’re also more collaborative now: we start with the skeleton of a song, and then we all add things until we get a finished product.

DS: Class and Cruelty seemed to focus more on your personal experiences. Is that true on the new album as well?

Derek: Our songs are about what’s going on in our lives. “Robbery” didn’t actually happen, but it’s about things we’re dealing with. “Waiting for the Bullet” is about a car accident that I witnessed a few years ago, and how quickly life goes by.

Adam: Some of our songs may sound dark but over all we’re really happy, fun, positive people.

Derek: But we like to take the reverse angle in our songs sometimes to keep them interesting, happy songs can be boring.

DS: You made a video for “Robbery.” How’d that go?

Adam: It’s fucking awesome! I’ve never been so excited. Our friend Danny Roman directed and edited it, and we got 7 or 8 actors and crew members who volunteered their time and equipment to work on the project.

DS: What made you pick that song to do a video?

Derek: It probably has the best story line on the new E.P. We always wanted to do a video for it. When writing it, I had Davis Square in Somerville in mind, which is where we live and filmed some of it. Plus it’s been one of the best-received songs on the EP.

DS: In case anyone hasn’t seen the video yet, what’s it like?

Derek: The video is about half storyline and half live shots. The story follows the main character (played by my brother, Travis) as he descends into desperation after losing his job and realizing he’s basically got nothing to live for. It follows the lyrics of the song as he decides his only shot at survival is through crime.

DS: You had a cross-country tour last fall, What’s next?

Derek: We’re heading out in April for 7 weeks, we’ll hit the Midwest out to Denver and back. Followed by 10 days in Quebec including Pouzza Fest IV. Then we’re flying out to Phoenix, renting a van, driving to Las Vegas with Common Tongue (AZ), Some Kind of Nightmare (CA), and [folk-punk singer] Matt Charrette, where we’re playing some “unofficial” Punk Rock Bowling after party.

DS: What’s tour like?

Derek: Greatest thing ever!

Nick: Touring is why we want to keep making music. It gets better every time.

Adam: We’re on a sleep, drink, and play schedule. Just a different city everyday. We also crossed paths with The Koffin Kats on our last tour a few times. They are veterans of the road and taught us some real valuable tips on making tour life easier. We owe a lot to those fellas!

DS: In addition to lots of touring, some of you live together when you’re home. Is it ever “too much”?

Adam: It actually makes touring easier, because we’re so used to each other. Plus, when we come home, we work crazy hours to make money so we can go back on the road, so we don’t see each other a whole lot.

Derek: In other bands, they have their band and then they have their personal lives. Ours are one in the same. The band is basically our top priority. [Everyone starts arguing at once over a burrito that Kory allegedly ate in Denver.]

Kory: No grudges are held.

Derek: On tour, all we have is each other. We have no money, we’re far from home. If we held grudges, we’d be stuck with that person for the next 2 months. You don’t have a choice out there, you need to make it work.

DS: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you guys so far?

Adam: ME! (laughter) …haha, I’m kidding, I’m really looking forward to this new music video and when we opened for Big D and the Kids Table in New Hampshire last winter.

Kory: Playing with Cockney Rejects and Youth Brigade.

Nick: Hanging out with the Koffin Kats on tour.

Derek: For me, it was the last show of last year’s spring tour in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was a killer show, and it proved that [the success of] our first tour wasn’t a fluke. We’d become a touring band.  It legitimized us and we gained steam from it.

DS: I’ve heard some people call you a pop-punk band. Is that a fair description?

Adam: Call us what you want. Some people call NOFX pop punk, so that’s ok. If you like what you hear, I’m cool with that!

Derek: We try to use lots of melody mixed in with more hardcore punk riffs, so we can see that sometimes.

Kory: I’d call us a melodic hardcore-esque punk band.

DS: What do you think is your most representative song for new fans to check out?

Derek: The whole new album [“When It Hits”]

Nick: “When It Hits” gives you the full spectrum from the hardcore side and the more “pop-punk” side of our music. “Robbery” and “Strong Coffee” are right in the middle.

If you like what these guys are about, you can watch the video for Robbery and find out when they’re invading your city by clicking here.

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