OPM - Matthew (aka Shakey Lo the Kreation Kid), John e. Necro, and Casper (aka Geoff Turney) - brings tales of rebellious youth, altered states, and skate-illogical perpetrations to the unexpected "MENACE TO SOBRIETY." The California trio's home-studio-born Atlantic Records debut is a sonic brunch buffet, defying categorization in its mind-melding of rock, hip hop, dancehall, pop, dub, and Latin into a cohesive musical statement.
Uniquely capturing the quintessential Golden State experience, the lbum's
songs incorporate the state's natural beauty, its pervasive alienation,
dysfunction, myth propagation, and at-sea youth into a irtual "California
Dreamin'" for the millennial moment.
"California is a weird place," says Matthew. "As much as it's laid-back and everyone's mellow, there's also this looming police presence and pervasive unease that exists. It's the oddest contrast."
And within "MENACE TO SOBRIETY," contrasts abound: from the defiant, bass-propelled "Stash Up" to the tagger's tribute of "Trutcha"; the joyous party ska jolt of "Unda" to the old school hardcore stretch of "15 Minutes"; the autobiographical, hip hop styled "Reality Check" to the reggae inspired "Undercover Freak" - complete with additional production from David Kahne (Sugar Ray, Sublime, Super Cat).
"As we were making the album, we were very much thinking about what turned us on to music in the first place," says Casper. "I kept remembering how excited I was when I first heard NWA and Run DMC and those old Slayer and D.R.I. records. Just like with those groups, to us, OPM is all about the attitude."
"MENACE TO SOBRIETY" was completed at the band's own MNO studio/gallery space in L.A. with producer Michael Patterson (Biggie, Lil' Kim, Beck) - with whom the band shares production credit on a number of tracks (the band also did some recording in New York City with producers Josh Deutsch and Craig Kallman).
Additional collaborations come courtesy of Jane's Addiction's Eric Avery (who brings guitar to "Stash Up"), Angelo Moore of Fishbone (who adds vocals to "Better Daze" and sax to "Unda"), Asdrubal Sierra and Ulises Bella of Ozomatli (who add vocals to "Trutcha"), renowned jazz bassist and former Rollins Band member Melvin Gibbs (Sonny Sharrock, Power Tools, Defunkt), celebrated solo artist/multi-instrumentalist and Size 14 founder Linus of Hollywood (Smashing Pumpkins, Lil' Kim), Mickey "Huidos" Huidobro of Molotov, DJ Swamp (Beck), bassist Sean-E Demott (Famous), and DJ Malcolm Micheles (Garbage).
"The songs usually start out as a concept," says Matthew, detailing the OPM process. "I don't want to say high concept, because there's nothing too complicated going on. I'll come up with a beat or a little melody, John e. and I will come up with the words, and Geoff will write the guitar parts. It's that simple."
Such was the case with the chiming, skater's dope anthem, "Heaven Is A Half Pipe."
"We wanted to write a song that felt good," says Matthew. "But if you really listen to the lyrics, there's something dark about it. There's something kind of twisted - 'At least in heaven I can skate.' It's a morbid thought, right. It's this kid thinking, 'I'd rather be dead than living in this shitty world.' Still, it's kind of a goofy song."
"Never let 'em see you sweat - that's what this album's is all about," adds Necro. "We're not trying to blow up your brain. We're saying, 'Hey, cool out a bit.'"
"Yeah, we only have a few things that are over 120 bpm," continues Matthew. "Everything is in the 80 to 90 bpm range, so it's all pretty chill.
Casper (aka Geoff Turney) and John e. Necro met in 1996 on a bus ride with mutual friends on a Camel cigarettes-sponsored bartenders trip to the Las Vegas Strip.
"The girl that I was dating at the time was a bartender in a club and was good friends with a bartender that John e. was dating at the time," explains Casper with a laugh. "We spent the whole time pretty much laughing and joking around. I was playing in some local bands and he was working at Island Records, so we also talked a lot about music. We really hit it off, right off the bat."
It was in early 1997, after John e. came out one night to see Casper play
guitar in his band Alpha Jerk, that the idea of working together nitially
"I remember after the show John e. said to me, 'You know, I've got this friend that has a little studio set-up. We're going to be working on some songs. He lives up in Oakland now, but you should do some recording with us.' I was like, 'Sure, sounds great.' Of course, it took another two years before I finally met the guy, but he was talking about Matthew."
Necro and his now-brother-in-law Matthew (aka Shakey Lo the Kreation Kid) had met in Santa Cruz on New Year's Eve, 1996. John e.'s sister, Heather, had brought her brother up from Los Angeles to celebrate the arrival of the '97 baby new year with a Bay Area Latin acid jazz outfit. Heather, as it happened, had a huge crush on the band's singer/trumpet player - who turned out to be her future husband Matthew, aka Shakey Lo. After the set (highlighted by Matthew's Portuguese vocals) Necro and Matthew toasted in the new year, and discussed music and art.
"I've talked to a hundred different people who told me that they did music and wrote songs and blah, blah, blah," says Necro. "But Matthew clearly had something cool happening so I said to him, 'Yeah, let's get together and do something.' Still, I had no idea whether anything would actually happen."
Casper continues the story: "I remember John e. called me up and said,
'Remember that guy I told you about? Well, he's in town for a week. Let's get something going.'"
The three got together for the first time in January of 1999 at an art opening that John e. had staged at his MNO gallery, where he was also hosting regular after-hours DJ parties. It was that night Matthew presented the guys with a tape of some rough song ideas. Within a few days, the trio had completed work on the four-song demo - which included "Better Daze" - that would eventually bring them to Atlantic Records.
A series of winter, '99 weekend creative sessions followed, with Casper and John e. traveling up to Santa Cruz to visit Matthew. More songs soon came into being, among them, "Heaven Is A Half-Pipe" and "Stash Up." "When we first wrote 'Heaven Is A Half Pipe,' we were thinking, 'Hey, this song could be good,'" says Matthew. "We weren't thinking of getting signed or getting our asses on the radio."
"I'm used to the process where you and your band slave away through hours of rehearsals and take months and months before you ever play a show," says Casper. "And here we spent a total of whatever - 50 hours - writingand recording and we were getting offers for record deals. I was standing there thinking, 'How did this happen?!'"
"We are totally ninety-nine per cent inspiration, one per cent perspiration," adds Matthew with a laugh.
With their recording budget in hand, the guys put together a small Pro Tools set-up in their Hollywood gallery space and began work on what would become "MENACE TO SOBRIETY."
"After you've played in bands for a long time and dealt with the frustration of trying to find all the right musicians, it ends up being easier to get a sampler and play your own drums," says Casper. "You know, kids really got excited about punk rock when it first came around. It was so basic. You'd hear a punk song and think, 'I could do that.' The Sex Pistols were about that same thing for so many people. I think hip hop is almost the same thing today: 'Hey, if I have a sampler, I can make a hip hop song.' Instead of it being a couple kids messing around in their garage with guitars and drum set, now it's a couple kids messing around in the bedroom with a sampler. We look at OPM as being a 2000 version of a punk rock band. To us, it's a natural."
Biography Courtesy of Atlantic Records
Thanks to cghar_ for submitting the biography.