oh my god
Oh my god shift on a dime from grinding organ to aching piano ballads. Folks fumbling to describe this band have said "Husker Du meets Kraftwerk"..."Queen meets Medeski, Martin & Wood"..."The Doors meet the Cars"...and they've definitely said "oh my god!" when seeing 'em live...
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS S#%T UP!
As chronicled in their Legalize Oh My God travelogue videos, Chicago’s oh my god has had more than one band’s share of bad luck and trouble since forming in ’99. Just weeks after meeting, organist ig (who’d played on stages with Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Van Morrison, Jeff Healey and Otis Rush in addition to his punk pursuits) moved his music equipment into singer Billy O’Neill’s rehearsal space. After a few practices, the building burned down. Not only did the nascent oh my god lose all their equipment, but they got sued by the building owner who alleged that their carelessness sparked the blaze. The band was exonerated (after almost 10 years of sporadic legal action); they used the prosecuting attorney’s deposition attack on the band as the poster quote on their 2005 tour of the UK:
“Oh my god…use their equipment in such a way…as to cause it to ignite and burst into flames.”
Oh my god had guitar at first, but soon stripped down to the lean, mean, striking sound of distorted organ, overdriven bass guitar, driving drums and harmony-rich vocals, drawing comparisons to everyone from Quasi to Queen. They recorded a self-titled EP (2000) and the albums Well (2001), The Action Album! (2002), Interrogations & Confessions (2003) and You’re Too Straight to Love Me (2004), playing up to 140 shows a year. Billy’s back-and-forth move to Phoenix followed, with their time off leading to the release of a new album: their first with guitar, Fools Want Noise (2007).
NOT SO FAST. Already having suffered a 2004 van break-in that cost them most of their equipment and, shortly thereafter, a rear-end collision that forced them to do an entire tour without the use of the van’s back doors (now crushed), oh my god got into a devastating van crash in September 2007. An Ohio woman was drunk at noon on a sunny Friday and swerved into the wrong lane; the collision was head-on at 55 m.p.h. She was killed and oh my god’s injuries required helicopters, ambulances and over six months of physical therapy to badly broken legs and hands. The tour was cancelled and the release of Fools Want Noise was delayed a year.
During recuperation, Billy and ig dug deep into songwriting, recording throughout 2008 and early 2009 with producer Jim Tullio (John Martyn, Rick Danko, Steve Goodman, Mavis Staples…). The songs brought them joy, but life was quick to temper it as Billy and his wife moved steadily toward divorce and ig’s wife (they’d been together since high school) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Brutal. But the emotions poured productively into the writing and recording of the songs on oh my god’s new album The Night Undoes the Work of the Day (released by Split Red Records, who also put out Fools Want Noise). Billy and ig have used several drummers and guitarists in the studio and on tour; they’re happy to be taking along two longtime friends and fantastic musicians on the fall 2010 tour: Zach Verdoorn (bass/guitar/vocals) and Danny Yost (drums).
Come on, life: go easy.
"The writing process was distracted by marital problems and life-threatening illness, on top of a serious car accident that delayed the release of the band's last album, Fools Want Noise. The back story makes the incredibly well-balanced Night that much more triumphantly cathartic, with both soft-boiled and hard-hitting pop tunes that make you wonder if a band can intimidate, party and weep at the same time. Organist Ig crunches loads of funk into One Thing Leads to Another and then leads into the blissful cool-down of Baby, Dream. Singer Billy O'Neill shines as both a rock frontman and an introspective pop balladeer. His delivery of stuff like I Don't Think It's So Funny (How Time Slips Away) will make music venues want to cut the lights and turn all the focus on the vocals. Captivating."
-Metromix ("Albums You Need to Hear Now" review of The Night Undoes the Work of the Day)
"Ig's grinding, overdriven organ sounds like it's going to melt at times, and when combined with the harmonic post-punk-pop vocals and theatrics of O'Neill, they create a beautifully balanced live set. You could call it indie-art rock because of OMG's totally unique sound and style, but this is way more fun to watch than most of that snobby, music-nerd stuff. It's a little weirder than most shows you've been to, and that's the point…OMG is simply mesmerizing."
-605 Magazine (Sioux Falls, SD)
"Strangely constructed dirt-pop/blues with all sorts of bizarre synth noise (see the title track) and incredibly soulful vocals. It's the band's best work in quite some time, and it's a shame they aren't known on a national scale. If you're looking for a challenging, abrasive yet poppy rock record to tackle this fall, look no further."
-Alternative Press review of "Fools Want Noise," 11/08 (3.5 stars out of 4)
"For close to a decade, Chicago’s Oh My God has been creating some of the most shizophrenic music the underground has heard. Lan
2000: oh my god (EP, self released)
2001: Well (album, self released)
2002: The Action Album (Novo Records)
2003: Interrogations & Confessions (Novo Records, WEA distributed)
2004: You're Too Straight to Love Me (long EP, self released)
2007: Fools Want Noise (Split Red Records, www.splitredrecords.com)
2009: The Night Undoes the Work of the Day (Split Red Records)
oh my god set lists vary from 40 min. to 1 hr., 15 min., typically. Band plays songs from all their recordings and has also covered AC/DC, Echo & the Bunnymen, Velvet Underground, Creedence, Meat Puppets, P.J. Harvey, Ron Sexsmith, Hank Williams...but usually does only oh my god songs.