The Oktober People
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The Oktober People

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Band Alternative Rock

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Nov
08
The Oktober People @ Launchpad

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Dec
09
The Oktober People @ Launchpad

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

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Odd as it may sound, one of my best SxSW musical discoveries didn't come from seeing a band play. When doing some last-minute showcase browsing before heading to Austin last week, I came across The Oktober People, a four-piece from Albequerque, New Mexico. Liking the samples I heard from the SxSW guide, I added them to my "maybe" list but didn't end up catching them as they were on the same time as Dirty On Purpose. However, when I went to catch Experimental Aircraft's day show on Friday, the label sponsoring the show was giving out a whack of free CDs, The Oktober People's self-titled album amongst them. Since the name seemed familiar, though I don't remember what I liked about them, I grabbed a copy and went on my way.

Now let's be honest - usually when someone hands you a free CD, the odds of it actually impressing are pretty slim. So when I finally popped it into my CD player at the airport on Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself very impressed with what I was hearing. Musically, their serpentine, echoed guitar lines and loping bass melodies recall Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, and while the loud-quiet dynamic is present, it's not the punchline. There's also some Verve-like atmospherics enevloping everything and many of the songs have vocals that keep them fairly grounded in more conventional song structures rather than multi-movement compositions (though some do approach epic-length). The quality of those vocals - somewhat frail and spidery, like Deserters Songs-era Mercury Rev - work perfectly with the music. There's nothing blazingly original in the ingredients that The Oktober People work with, but the end result is quite stunning nonetheless. If you couldn't tell, I'm quite taken with their work. - Chromewaves.net


It's too bad that more of that crowd couldn't have been over at The Hideout for New Mexican export The Oktober People. The band's big, complex sound -- with its huge sheets of cascading, billowing guitar -- deserves some of what Kaiser Chiefs are getting. Maybe they should move to England......By Cary Darling, Dallas Star-Telegram, 3/19/05 - Dallas Star-Telegram


It's probably not journalistically proper for a local music columnist to pick favorites out of the current crop of local indie acts. But that becomes increasingly difficult when a debut record, such as that of local indie foursome The Oktober People, hits said columnist like a ton of bricks.
The group, which has been working on the eponymous debut for quite some time now, has created a rollicking but moody whisper of a record that most closely appropriates early Modest Mouse recordings. Guided by a stoic but driving bass guitar that all other instruments seem to cling tight to, the record sways from quiet solitude to hailstorm intense in undetectable fluidity.
Songs such as "Projector Enthusiast" and "The Jupiter Influence" begin so quietly that it's nearly impossible to fathom the frenetic chaos that will eventually ensue. But after just two or three tracks, it's the anticipation of just that that keeps the listener's ears at full attention.
The album's standout track, "Cheap Hotel on the Side of the Road," harkens back to the minimalistic atmospherics of NYC's Space Needle. Toggling from soft to loud then slow to fast then calm to discord, the song somehow ends up veering off into a shuffling country and western melody marked by words like "the neon diner down the line/ I fell asleep and lost my sense of time." It's obvious The Oktober People is playing with our heads the whole time.
There have been many local bands in the past 10 years that I have at one time or another called my favorites. This just happens to be another, but like all others before them, The Oktober People is making my head swim to the point of delirium. Because of the band and this record, I no longer want to categorize music like this as local or national. It's just fine music. Why outside elements in the music industry aren't spending more time in Albuquerque I will never know.
The Oktober People's CD release party tonight at The Launchpad also features performances by local indie heavyweights The Mindy Set, Foma and simple. It would seem to be an artist and repertoire person's dream Albuquerque bill. Or maybe it's just mine. Show starts at 9 p.m., cover is a measly $5.
Kevin Hopper, Albuquerque Journal, 11/5/04 - Albuquerque Journal


My fetish for space rock is no secret. Neither is my love and respect for The Oktober People. But even despite my often hyperbolic praises of them, I can't find nearly enough gushy adjectives or sentimental turns of phrase to describe the depth and breadth of their long-overdue debut. Guitarists Nate Santa Maria and Sean McCullough share a magical intuition that manifests in brilliant, shimmering harmony and counterpoint figures. Rhian Baston (bass) and Chris Moffatt (drums) make cunning use of dynamic swells and shifts that underscore the already roiling passion and intensity inherent in the songwriting. Absolute fucking genius! Alibi - Alibi


Before Pilotdrift's set, I had the pleasure of listening to a band from Albuquerque, NM called The Oktober People. Wow, these guys are good. Melodic rock, like Godspeed You Black Emperor meets Catherine Wheel. Solid, dreamy landscape of well-effected guitars; lyrics that sway between dreams, dark interpersonal rifts, regrets for dead loved ones, and anger with current politics. They gave away a boxfull of CDs as well. - www.phaysis.com - www.phaysis.com


The eponymous debut album from The Oktober People owes quite a debt to The Verve’s A Storm in Heaven, if you ask me. The guitar chords – echoing and reverbed and spacey – imbue the sound with the same kind of grand moments you heard from Nick McCabe back then. The big-sound passages trade time with gentle, sad, and melodic moments, in a mode that has become pretty familiar over the past decade. As a fan of this kind of music, I knew I’d like The Oktober People within a couple of minutes of putting the CD into the player.
It’s easy for a band to fall into a well-known formula when it’s putting its songs together. And The Oktober People certainly do like their whisper-to-a-scream dynamics (instrumental screams, though – never vocal screaming). It’s not surprising to hear comparisons to Mogwai, for just this reason. Like Mogwai’s CODY in another way, The Oktober People capture a sense of loneliness and alienation in their down moments. The vocals come often in whispers. The lyrics express regret, disappointment, and failure.

“Well I’m shooting the shit with projector enthusiasts / Watching old films of the west,” a line from “Projector Enthusiasts,” sounds exactly like something from Modest Mouse. It’s not just the words themselves (hanging with the uncool, passing/wasting time), but the manner in which they’re delivered. Of course, they’re preceded by other self-critical lines that smack of Building Something Out of Nothing: “All the kids on the block / They tell me I’m dumb / Because I don’t know which way to walk / Maybe it’s just / The fact that I’m a simple / A broken-up red piece of chalk.” After a while, the song veers into another space-borne rave-up that characterizes much of this material. It’s the proverbial catharsis after the confession, the release that gets helps the pain go away.

“Anger Before Pleasure,” an instrumental track whose title reflects this idea of cathartic release, begins slowly and sparsely. The mood is established by the long-held (e-bowed?) guitar notes in the background and the melancholy second guitar. After a while the drums come in, and by the midway point the band is pushing itself to be louder and more strident. It never breaks away completely, though, and in terms of intensity it never reaches that of “The Sky is Falling” or “The Jupiter Influence” or “The Roosevelt Incident,” where the band shows you its teeth.

Some of these songs take a long time to unfold, and some of the tracks end up a little too similar to one another. “Cheap Hotel on the Side of the Road,” at 7:50, is actually two songs. After working itself up in a lather, it grows quiet, allowing the drums to kick in – doing a beat that has little or no connection to what’s come before in the song. The lyrics tell of someone lost in thought at a diner. In fact, it’s this song that contains some of the saddest lines on the CD: “I’m always thinking every day / Should I leave or maybe I should stay / But she don’t care either way / so I guess I’ll lay back / And think of things I never had / A normal life and a mom and dad who say / ‘Everything’s OK’.” It reads trite, but in the song it’s actually quite affecting. It hits you in the same way as “Hey Goodbye” from the Macha Loved Bedhead album.

I hope The Oktober People can hold on longer than Bedhead did, and I hope we don’t need some other band to record their unrealized ideas. A first step might be for this album to land on the desk of an A&R person at a record label, so get the word out. - Delusions of Adequacy


Five years after the release of a stellar debut recording, local indie pop foursome finds itself charting new musical territory

By Michael Henningsen
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be stated that near the end of 2004, local rock foursome The Oktober People released their debut record, which I gushed about in a very public forum for roughly the ensuing year. Five years later, the group is set to release their second effort, Explore the Sky Too. Once again, I find myself compelled to again become so ebullient about the music of this band, I make my official pick for “Album of the Year” six months early. I’ll stop short of doing that, but just barely.

You’ve been warned.
The Oktober People have been called a lot of things over the years, 99 percent of which is of a complimentary nature, or at least intended to be as such. However, merely categorizing this band, which includes Sean McCullough (guitar), Rhian Batson (bass), Nate Santa Maria (guitar/vocals) and Chris Moffatt (drums), with tired, standardized terms like emo, shoegaze, whispercore or any of several other genres, subgenres and sub-subgenres, doesn’t quite encapsulate the essence of the painfully surreptitious music of The Oktober People. It’s not so much that the songs this band composes are wholly original, but rather that the eventual “whole” is greater than its individual parts. Subsequently, the seemingly effortless nature that leads to the group’s cohesive sound, comes across as one that is, quite obviously, all their own. It’s an integral component that shines through on nearly every track on the new record.

Take “No. 5 Robot Head” for instance. The rhythm section instinctually lies back, allowing the guitars to swell and recede, and, most importantly, to breathe. It’s important to note here that The Oktober People circa 2009 are not the same Oktober People of 2004. Many of the cornerstones of the band and its individual members remain fully intact, but there’s more of a pop sensibility apparent, as well as more attention paid to traditional melodies and song structures on Explore the Sky Too. The instrumental tracks that the group so fancied in the past, are few and far between.

“This time, we wanted a different sound,” explained McCullough in a recent interview. “We wanted to move away from the instrumental stuff, and as Nate got more comfortable as a vocalist, the songs just evolved from there.”

This evolution unfolded over a three-year period that was spent recording, ditching entire batches of recordings and re-recording material until a consensus was reached regarding the quality and readiness of the songs that make up Explore the Sky Too.

Time, said McCullough, was the key ingredient.

“We took five years between records because we could,” he stated. “We did the whole thing ourselves, so we were able to really get everything the way we wanted it.”

Along with bassist Batson and drummer Moffatt, McCullough and Santa Maria miraculously figured out how to mature the Oktober People sound collectively, where most bands would have either folded or ushered lineup changes and an extended period of time spent between releases, former Albuquerque act The Shins being just one such relevant example.

The end result of such evolution, in the case of The Oktober People, is almost alchemical: a band that emerged almost fully formed at inception manages to not only trump its extraordinary debut, but to reinvent its sound in a way that both satiates long-time fans and explores unfounded musical avenues. That kind of remarkable growth is generally reserved for the U2s of the world, where band members get to wile away their spare time sipping Pernod with the likes of Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.

“It wasn’t a great conscious effort [to create the record, it’s] just the way things worked out,” McCullough said.
It’s a fortunate turn of events in the sense that such a conscious effort could have easily resulted in a very different and possibly inferior record. As it stands, though, Explore the Sky Too has all of the makings of one of the best albums you stand hear all year. I promised I wouldn’t go there, but isn’t honesty is always the best policy? - Local IQ - Albuquerque


It's been a long-ass time since the Oktober People released their last CD. But at long last, the waiting has paid off. They now have a second disc to promote, and it's even available on iTunes (although, as always, I'd recommend going through the store that debuted DRM-free).

The CD, called Explore The Sky Too is sonically similar to Oktober People's last disc and what we've come to expect from their live shows. It's a great cacophony of noise, made beautiful by the careful arrangement and the just-right vocals. People who are looking for a singer who belts out above and beyond everything else should look elsewhere because Nata Santa Maria seems to be much more interested in harnessing his voice as an instrument on par with the rest, not outdoing his bandmates.

The CD is short. It's only eight songs, and it clocks in at just about 43 minutes, but those are intense, music-jammed minutes. The Oktober People take the Nirvana formula of verse-chorus-verse mixed with soft-loud-soft and do it to an exponential factor; when the bottom drops out, there's often times when the song appears over, only to reappear via a sonic blast that re-ups where the song had been and takes it further.

The CD starts with a track called "No. 5 The Robot Head" which is a great introduction to the band for anyone who hasn't heard them yet. The second song, "Shine" really shows off their growth from the last disc. Santa Maria projects his voice in a way that he never did on the self-titled debut, and uses it in a more bombastic manner, while still keeping the focus on the group as a whole. (I could never see him, for example, splitting from this group to do solo work. It'd be too different.) "All The Narrows" starts a lot like "The Roosevelt Incident" from their previous disc (which, incidentally, is the only real valid complaint I could see anyone having about a group like this: much like Sigur Ros, many of their songs do sound similar) but stays in that soft groove until exploding in the middle and concluding rather peacefully. The CD continues on this course and reaches the album closer "Suicide Shy" where all the instruments collide in a remarkable way - the drums are kicking, Santa Maria's voice finally reaches a fever pitch, and the guitars, of course, wail back and forth over one another.

At this point, I think that the Oktober People are kind of a musicians-only insiders band for Albuquerque. I saw lots of people at their CD release party that play in other bands, and people who know the scene well speak fondly of them and their music. However, this troubles me for a couple reasons. First of all, I worry that they won't get the national attention they deserve. But secondly, and even more so, I worry that they'll feel they have to move (ahem...like our last super-pimped export) in order to make the next move. (By the way, read that linked article! Dude talks about some of the feelings of NM-natives who have an ambiguous relationship with The Shins now, and gets an awesome response from Dave Hernandez, who's one of the only remaining original members, other than James Mercer. I don't have any proof that it's really him leaving the comment, but...) I don't really know anyone in the band, so I don't know if that's an aim, but, really, I kind of just have to assume that it is. I mean, who wouldn't want to take the next step?

I don't want to lose the Oktober People, but just like the scene of Zach Braff riding the motorcycle while "Caring is Creepy" plays gave me goosebumps (no video link...stupid copyright!), I would be psyched to see the Oktober People succeed on a bigger level. One of the most important things they're going to have to do, though, is upgrade their website - it's not bad, at this point, given that it's only a placeholder, but hopefully it will be better soon, seeing as it's much different than the last time I looked at it (which was the night of their CD release party, for what it's worth). For now, I'd recommend anyone interested in the band to check their MySpace, which is a bit better or at least updated more than semi-frequently.

I don't know if this will come across as hero-worshiping fandom, but I know no other way to say it: The Oktober People are the best local band that we have and they have been for a while now. They have the potential to be the next big thing out of Albuquerque and New Mexico as a whole and, if that's what they want, I wish them the best. You'd be wise to get some of their music now so that you can say you knew them back in the day. - tiny roads leading somewhere - blog


Discography

Explore the The Sky Too - 2009
Self Titled - 2004

Photos

Bio

New album out now! Find it on iTunes and Amazon.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based space-rock quartet began as a trio in 2002, with Rhian Batson on bass, Chris Moffatt on drums and Nate Santa Maria on guitar and vocals. They came together under the influence of such melodic narcotics as Appleseed Cast, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, venerable indie rockers Archers of Loaf and shoegaze champs, My Bloody Valentine. By the time Sean McCullough was added to fill out the band’s massive guitar attack, other influences such as Kinski, Sigúr Rós and The Album Leaf had seeped in, giving the Oktober People the luxury of being able to creep gently through understated sheets of shimmering, Zen-like harmonic passages, then pull off 90-degree turns into blissed-out dueling guitar figures that light up the night sky like fire on the mountain.

The band’s penchant for jarring dynamic shifts coupled with their collective ability to shave the edges off with deeply emotional melody and intensely complex song structures is matched only by their passion, whether on stage or on record. Indeed, the end may not be so near after all.