Following the release of their 7” single “Runnin“, Ohtis today announce the release of their debut album Curve of Earth on 29 March via Full Time Hobby (home to White Denim, Timber Timbre, Michael Nau, Katie Von Schliecher etc). To herald the announce, Ohtis release the album track “Rehab.” The band’s Sam Swinson notes, “Rehab was a fox hole prayer, a lot of the songs on the record were. I grew up in an American Christian church that believes in a Santa Claus God, always saying please do this or that, please give us this or that. So naturally when I was hating myself for being a hopeless junkie fuck up I went begging him to make me good. When I did it was usually slightly tongue in cheek, because I hadn’t believed in Santa Claus for a long time and I had been listening to the Louvin Brothers a lot so I understood the value of Old Testament irony. I wrote it at my friend Jimmy’s house in South Carolina. He’d bought me a bus ticket to come from Stone Mountain Georgia where I’d spent a few days sleeping under a bridge, begging people at Subway for change to get drunk on Steel Reserve. I was stranded there after being kicked out of a type of Christian work camp called Teen Challenge which operates under the guise of being a treatment center. They had me digging graves at a grave yard 12 hours a day everyday except Sundays, which was reserved for letting the lord do his work on us. I ended up drunk driving Jimmy’s truck into a ditch and he sent me on my merry way. Needless to say I was feeling very bad about myself which produced this emo country song.”
Ohtis have confirmed they will be playing shows at this year’s SXSW — more details to be announced shortly. Previous to their visit to Austin, Swinson will be playing his first European solo shows this week including a Line Of The Best Fit’s “Five Day Forecast” slotwhich feature their tips for the year. Previously they have included Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Nilufer Yanya, among others. All dates are listed below.
The beautifully dark country-Americana and vivid lyricism on Curve of Earth is a fitting introduction to songwriter Sam Swinson’s autobiographical journey through indoctrination and addiction; an endlessly inviting confession from his past battles with substance abuse, and the religious demons lingering from his upbringing in a fundamentalist evangelical cult.
Ohtis originally formed when Swinson and co-founder Adam Pressley were sophomores at high school in Normal, Illinois. They self-released their first material on small run CD-Rs while still teenagers, primarily to a local audience. Their partnership has defined Ohtis, accompanied by a revolving cast of local musicians joining the live act over the years, including re-joining mainstay member and multi-instrumentalist Nate Hahn.
The band took a hiatus staring in 2009 as Swinson’s addiction had become life-threatening. Weighing the odds of maintaining a creative partnership in those conditions, Pressley and Hahn decided to distance themselves and the band dissolved. They kept in touch while living in different parts of the country, swapping ideas and songs online, never planning to release them, in equal parts because of their traumatic falling-out, and Sam’s ongoing addiction to heroin.
Redemption eventually came in the form of sobriety for Swinson. After making 9th step amends to both of his re-joining bandmates, they brought Ohtis back to life; unfazed by the 2000 miles that now separate them geographically, with Pressley and Hahn in Detroit and Chicago and Swinson in Los Angeles. Songwriting happened with his bandmates in lengthy stretches, spurred by phone calls, emails, and revisions.
At times unbearably sparse, at others lush, Curve of Earth is a brutal yet alluring creative achievement. Having been through two separate spells in rehab, Sam Swinson’s life has changed utterly, and it’s also prompted an evolution within Ohtis, and the way they approach music. “It’s similar,” he muses. “My life isn’t as crazy, but it’s still pretty crazy. I’m still dealing with a lot of the same issues, with a similar feel.”
“Sam’s beautiful encapsulation of recovery principles among the descriptions of his own struggle and redemption with sobriety in ‘Runnin’ was a major factor drawing me back to the band when they reformed,” Nate explains.
Sam went to a self-made hell, and when he came out the other side he found a support group waiting for him, which had always been there, in Ohtis.
Curve Of The Earth tracklisting
1. Pervert Blood
3. Little Sister
5. Black Blood
7. Junkie Heaven
8. Serenity Prayer
Ohtis on tour
1/16 – The Line of Best Fit’s Five Day Forecast @ The Lexington – London, UK *
1/17 – The Slaughtered Lamb – London, UK *
3/8 – 3/17 – SXSW – Austin, TX
Sam Swinson solo show