The Gateway interview with Ozma and Superdrag - April 2003

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Original article (archived by Wayback Machine):

Ozma and Superdrag rock Knickerbockers

Apr 11, 2003

By Interview/review by Ben Coffman

This spring’s late storms have proved to be an inconvenience for more than just the people who have to clean up after them.

Touring buddy-bands Ozma (Pasadena, Calif.) and Superdrag (Knoxville, Tenn.) also had to deal with Mother Nature’s springtime surprises before rocking last Saturday’s at Knickerbocker’s in Lincoln.

“They call it snow,” said Ozma’s vocalist/guitarist Ryen Slegr. “But we called it an obstacle that must and will be overcome.”

The dynamic touring duo ran into some weather problems on an interstate highway between Washington state and their show in Denver.

“There was some black ice on the road,” said Daniel Brummel, Ozma’s bass player/vocalist.

“Black ice, white ice – whatever,” interrupted Jose Galvez, Ozma’s second guitarist.

“We started sliding around,” continued Brummel. “We almost slid into the railings. Superdrag was in front of us and we saw them starting to slide and pulled over. Pat (Ozma’s drummer) was driving – he did a good job. We drove like 5 miles an hour into the next town, which was Livingston, Mont.”

Between poor weather and poorer attendance at shows, the Midwest can be a tough place to play for the SoCal prog-rockers.

“We’re looking forward to getting to the East Coast, where we do a lot better,” Galvez said.

“Middle America’s kind of tough,” Slegr added.

Lincoln locals Project: Wet opened up Saturday night’s show. The Lincoln four-piece slammed through a well-rehearsed short set punctuated by a pummeling song called “Firetruck,” which featured added synth percussion by the band’s DJ.

The band’s sound lies “somewhere between metal and punk,” said Brad Allison, the band’s drummer.

Project: Wet is readying to record an EP and will be opening for Two Skinnee Js at the Ranch Bowl in May.

Ozma was the next to take charge of the stage. The five-piece – Brummel, Slegr, Galvez, Patrick Edwards (drums) and multi-instrumentalist Star Wick (flute, keyboards) — bathed the audience in drop-D barre chords, three-part harmonies and simplistic keyboard melodies from the new album, Spending Time on the Borderline.

“[We’re] like a warm bubble bath with a beautiful woman,” Brummel said, jokingly, when asked to characterize the band’s sound. He then changed his tune: “Progressive nerd rock. With a computer twist.”

The band’s heavy-hooking philosophy has been perfected over the past eight years – a long length of time for a band whose oldest member is 24 and two youngest are only 21.

The band’s short set was flawless and passionless. As more fans crowded into the Lincoln shoebox known as Knickerbocker’s, it was clear what band the fans wanted to see.

Superdrag soon took the reigns and finished the night off with a Springstein-esque hard-rockin’ 20-plus song set. The band, best known for the 1996 hit “Sucked Out,” is touring in support of its fourth album, Last Call for Vitriol.

“It’s nice to be in a smoky club,” said bassist Sam Powers during the band’s non-stop set. “We’ve been in California.”

“We consider ourselves a rock n’ roll band, but every once in a while we want to do something different,” said singer/guitarist John Davis, as the band prepared to play a Merle Haggard cover halfway through its performance.

The group re-affirmed its rockiness near the end of the set as it played rock anthems like “Baby Goes to 11,” “Slot Machine,” “Expanding My Mind” and “Feeling Like I Do.”

“We killed emo,” the sweaty Powers claimed as he took a breathing break between their songs.

“What is emo?” Davis asked.

“It ain’t alive, I can tell you that,” Powers replied.

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