After a successful string of shows across North America & the UK, Ohtis re-present their debut album Curve of Earth with four live favourites, including a beautiful cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Only Him Or Me’ streaming now HERE.
“’Only Him or Me’ is off my favorite Townes record Delta Momma Blues which has some of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard on it - especially the last two - right next to some deceptively happy sounding ones”, explains Ohtis’ Sam Swinson.”It’s one of many of his in regular rotation over the years. I think ‘Rex’s Blues’ was my dog Bobo’s favorite song. He also liked ‘Flyin Shoes’, ‘Dollar Bill Blues’, ‘Our Mother the Mountain’, ‘No Place to Fall’, ‘Two Girls’ and pretty much every other one. My buddy Alex Willard sent me a recording of himself playing ‘Catfish Song’ on his mom’s piano which made me want to learn that one next. Same thing happened when Casey Lynne Barr played me ‘Flyin Shoes’ by a campfire in her backyard in Missouri years ago. Both of whom write great songs of their own.”
The new deluxe version of the album, out now, also includes a new song ‘I Am Aware’ as well as new recordings of ‘Settling’ and album track ‘Black Blood’. Listen HERE
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.
By around 2009, 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 whilst 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. Sam would record voice demos on a hand-held recorder given to him by a friend who tragically passed away following an overdose. Songwriting happened with his bandmates in lengthy stretches, spurred by phone calls, emails, and revisions.
The weight of experience is what gives Curve of Earth its incredible power. Beguiling, entrancing, yet unrelentingly honest, it maintains a powerful hold on the listener long after the final note fades. “I would hope it’s helpful for people,” Sam states. “The conversation about addiction, it’s like any other mental illness society tends to sweep under the rug. Talking openly about it allows people who haven’t been exposed to recovery at all, who are still afraid and in denial and worried about the stigma, to transcend the shame keeping us sick.”
Curve of Earth is a beautiful, shocking, deeply emotional experience, informed by Sam’s issues but finding hope in the bleakest moments. “It feels like a long time coming,” he says. “We’re ready.”
This year has seen Ohtis play mesmerizing festival shows at SXSW and The Great Escape and they will soon return to the UK & Europe, including a performance at End of The Road Festival in August. Tickets on sale now.
Ohtis live dates:
28th FR Paris, Supersonic
30th UK End of the Road Festival
1st UK Glasgow, Indian Summer
2nd UK Manchester, Castle Hotel
3rd UK Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
4th UK London, The Windmill
5th UK Brighton, Hope & Ruin
Deluxe Track List:
- Pervert Blood
- Little Sister
- Black Blood
- Junkie Heaven
- Serenity Prayer
- Only Him Or Me (Bonus Track)
- Settling (Redux) [Bonus Track]
- Black Blood (Monocle 24’s Midori House Session) [Bonus Track]
- I Am Aware (Bonus Track)