Keeping the energy alive
HEE Oh Sees suffer from a musical form of ADHD. The San Francisco psychedelic rockers are renowned for their night-afternight, raw, pulsating live performances and their ability to pump out more albums than their own bassist, Petey Dammit, can keep track of.
A band that cannot stop moving and will not stop pushing creative boundaries, the quartet’s grunge-infused live shows are an addictive and disturbingly satisfying musical experience.
‘‘I don’t know where the energy comes from. We just do it,’’ Dammit says.
‘‘People always ask what our pre-show ritual is. We have non-rituals. I am a nervous and fidgety person so I just sit in a chair and smoke for a few hours. After the show I try and find a towel – and do some magic tricks.’’
Thee Oh Sees are threequarters of the way through their 13-date Australian tour. After a show in Byron Bay last night, they play Brisbane tonight and the Gold Coast tomorrow night.
Gearing up for the April release of album No. 15, Floating Coffin, Dammit says even he has lost track of Thee Oh Sees’ discography.
‘‘Sometimes (frontman) John (Dwyer) will yell something out on stage for us to play and I will s--myself that I might not remember the chords,’’ he says.
‘‘I am not sure why we write so much stuff. Maybe boredom? What else are we going to do.’’
Thee Oh Sees record all of their material live, a feat Dammit describes as challenging but rewarding.
‘‘You have to force yourself to do the best take, but you will never be satisfied. It’s nerve-racking,’’ he says.
‘‘You have to pay attention and you can’t make a mistake that will ruin the song – that’s the fun that keeps you on your toes. If it’s a six-minute song and four minutes in I stuff up, then I am the a--hole.’’
Dammit says some of Thee Oh Sees’ older songs are completely different after five years of live shows.
‘‘For us the songs are never complete, they are always growing,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s important not to run out of creative juice. It keeps you on your toes.
‘‘I can’t imagine how someone like Jimmy Buffett plays Margaritaville a million times the same way.’’
Dammit says being based in San Fransisco keeps the inspiration flowing.
‘‘There’s a freedom to do what you want to do. As long as you’re not being violent, you can get away with anything,’’ he says.
‘‘The attitude and liberalism of this city allows you to be more creative.’’
play The Zoo, in Brisbane, tonight with Per Purpose and Elsewhere Bar, in Surfers Paradise, tomorrow night with The Ottomans.
Dynamic San Francisco psychedelic rockers Thee Oh Sees.