Oni are a bright young band that are going places. They are relentlessly touring and working hard towards their dream. Before their tour with Children of Bodom, I spoke to bassist Chase Bryant about the band’s origins, the influence of Japan on their music, working with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God fame, their Ironshore album, touring with Bodom and their post-Bodom tour plans.
Jack: Hi guys thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Chase Bryant (Bass): We are doing great thanks for asking. Taking some time to recharge before heading out back on the road. Very excited for all that is to come in 2017.
Jack: How did you all meet?
Chase: Some of us went to high school together, most of us went to university together and some of us were just common friends of each other. Basically we all met through common bands and interests in Windsor, Ontario.
Jack: Jake said in an interview that the mission with Oni is “to be the band I never got to see.” What do you think makes Oni unique?
Chase: Between all of our combined favourite bands we noticed that some bands are chalk full of energy, attitude and a larger than life stage performance but lack some of the musical prowess or ‘shred’ that we are so fond of, while on the other side most of our favourite ‘shred/prog’ bands have incredible skill but lack the attitude or grit we are looking for. Our goal is to bridge the gap and combine the best of both worlds, to be the band that we feel is yet to have been seen.
Jack: In Japanese folklore, the Oni is a malevolent shape-shifting demon, able to take on many guises as it spreads pain and misery. Why did you decide to name the band after the Oni?
Chase: It’s a really cool one word band name that we all thought sounded badass but to dig a little deeper we feel that between the 6 of us and our wide range of musical influences we are also malevolent musical shapeshifters taking on many guises and genres under the mask of heavy metal to spread as much fun, inspiration and mayhem across the lands as demonly possible.
Jack: How much of the band is inspired by Japanese folklore?
Chase: All six of us are inspired by Japanese folklore as well as many other aspects and areas of Japanese culture. It appears to be one of the coolest places on the planet and we can’t wait to play there someday soon.
Jack: How did you become interested in Japanese folklore?
Chase: We have all grown up with different experiences in Japanese Folklore but I would say Jake (Vocals) got us into it the most. I know he has always loved the imagery and mythos involved with the ONI demon as well as many other aspects of Japanese Folklore.
Jack: What are the musical influences of Oni?
Chase: The list is too long to mention them all. [Laughs] Off the top of my head the biggest influences I can think of would be Slipknot, Dream Theater and Animals as Leaders. Between the whole band I think we listen to pretty much everything, there is an extensive classical background within our rhythm section and percussionist, we also listen to everything from hip-hop, jazz to the most brutal of death metal. Every influence finds its way onto the ONI writing palette one way or another which makes the experience so much more fun for everyone.
Jack: Last year you released your album Ironshore, are you happy with the response?
Chase: We are incredibly happy and humbled with the response so far. We are a brand new band so any exposure and fan response we get makes us really happy and inspired to continue writing and playing.
Jack: What inspired the title Ironshore?
Chase: It was actually Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe that first suggested the name to us. We recorded the album in the Cayman Islands where you can find Ironshore in abundance. Its a coral like rock that most of the island sits on and would be the equivalent to falling on a cheese grader it is so jagged and unforgiving. Its brutal, gray, we built the album on it and when someone as legendary as Randy Blythe suggests a name like that its kind of a no brainer.
Jack: There is no concept to the album, did this make writing the album easier?
Chase: Yes and No. Yes it was easier because when it came time to record we were able to put all of our ideas together in the most creative way possible without having to focus on a specific theme or concept. On the other hand in can be hard “mashing” puzzle pieces together without a specific picture in mind, that being said we love the jigsaw that is Ironshore just the way it is.
Jack: What was working with Josh Wilbur like?
Chase: It was incredible. The man is the ultimate game changer and hears things in a way that really serves the band. We struggled with arrangements sometimes or how to put vocals over certain riffs. Josh came in and steam rolled over any issues we had been struggling with months prior. Josh and Jake have a dynamic chemistry when hashing out vocal parts over many riffs that aren’t exactly easy to sing over. Josh’s outside ear was exactly what we needed to finish Ironshore and make it sound as badass as the final copy you hear today.
Jack: Randy Blythe appears on The Only Cure, what was it like working with him?
Chase: It was amazing working with someone like Randy. You can learn so much from him just by being in presence. When coming to the Cayman Islands Randy described himself as “a water dude” so when we were able to get him out of the reef and into the studio we saw the beast come to life and within one session he came up with lyrics and screams that gave us all goosebumps on first listen. I personally found it really rewarding to hear a singer I grew up listening to lay it down on our track, also really cool to hear Randy scream over something more in the prog vein than what I’m used to hearing him on.
Jack: How did you get into Lamb of God?
Chase: We all got into Lamb of God one way or another, they are one of the biggest and badass metal bands around today. I saw them open for Megadeth on Gigantour and was slightly butt hurt but extremely impressed that they stole the show. After that I went home and bought Ashes of the Wake and that was that…LOG fan for life.
Jack: What is their best album?
Chase: I guess that’s different for everyone in the band. Mine is definitely somewhere between As the Palaces Burn and Ashes of the Wake. So thrashy and tech and not to mention a couple of guest solos from Chris Poland sprinkled in there….damn!
Jack: In January you visited the UK with The Devil You Know, Wearing Scars and Brutai, how did the tour go? Was this your first time in the UK?
Chase: The UK tour was amazing. This was the first time playing in the UK for all of us and the first time visiting for some of us. We love touring with Devil You Know they are amazing dudes. Wearing Scars was a treat to watch every night especially the guitar work of Andy James and last but definitely not least, Brutai was such an inspiration to watch every night. Incredible dudes and now lifelong friends. It was also amazing making new fans and friends in the UK. We can’t wait to come back!
Jack: What do you like about touring the UK?
Chase: Cask ales, castles, Scotland, scotch, accents, the abundance of large breasted woman, english breakfast and the overall culture and history of the UK.
Jack: You’re returning to Europe with Children of Bodom in March, what can we expect from this tour?
Chase: Everyone can expect an extremely badass show. This is Bodom’s 20th anniversary and they will be playing all of Something Wild every night which is a special treat for any OG Bodom fan. We are excited and honoured to be a part of the tour and intend to do our part by throwing down and giving it our all night after night getting the crowd warmed up and ready for COB. Who knows maybe John will light his mallets on fire and have a synth off with Janne!
Jack: Finally, what are your plans after the Bodom tour?
Chase: After the Bodom tour we head home for a bit of rest then head back out for a short US tour with Devin Townsend and Thank You Scientist as well as gear up and get ready for Bloodstock 2017 later this summer.