Super groups are pretty hip right now. Just ask Obliterations, a band made up of four dudes with impressively long hair and even more impressive musical backgrounds: Singer Sam James Velde (Bluebird, Night Horse), guitarist Steve McBean (Black Mountain, Pink Mountaintops), bassist Austin Barber (Saviours, Travelling Eyelids), and drummer Florian Schanze (Dudeman, Sonofold) joined forces and presumably grooming tips (I am 100% positive they all condition those lustrous locks) earlier this year, and within just a few months, they’ve played shows alongside the likes of Strife, Excel, and J. Mascis, amongst others.
I caught up with Sam to chat about the band’s birth, their influences, and their favorite band ever, Groovy Temple.
Sam: Hi Yasi
Tell me how Obliterations came to be.
S: I’ve known Steve McBean for quite a long time, and he moved to LA in like early 2011. I’d see him around and this one time we DJed together. I was doing this residency at El Prado and I didn’t tell him what kind of records to bring or anything, but he happened to bring the same kind of stuff I was playing, like obscure punk and hardcore, early Sub Pop stuff, but also like shoe gaze kind of stuff like Loop or whatever. So that was cool. Then we actually ran into each other at this festival in Holland. Black Mountain was playing and I was singing with this band from Finland called Circle. We were just got hammered one night at this pizza place, a bunch of us, and we were talking about going to get “Side Two” Black Flag My War tattoos. Then last summer, Steve and I and Katy Goodman were at the Cha Cha. She probably doesn’t remember this, but we were talking about punk, and we went over to Steve’s house and were playing punk records and talking about how we should start a band. I think Steve jammed with Katy actually. Later he would bring it up every once in a while.
Then Austin Barber moved to town and I woke up one day and was like, wait we should all jam together. So I texted everybody and told them we should all go play at my rehearsal space. I actually thought Austin was going to play guitar, and we would have two guitars. But he asked me what Steve was playing, and I told him he was playing guitar, so he was like all right I’ll bring a bass. So that’s kind of how it started. We wrote those four songs that are coming out soon in like four practices, then recorded them right away, because everyone was going on tour. And when everyone came back from tour, I had done the vocals. Then everyone was like this is rad, we should do this. So we just did it. We played our first show like a month later.
What was the first show like?
S: The first show was in a house here in Los Angeles, at this placed called Oxford House, with our friends Whip Hand and this band Coming. We got on that Jubilee Festival, and I was like there’s no way that can be our first show. That’s just awkward and weird. We kind of envisioned originally that we would only play house shows. This wasn’t a serious thing. But the first show was rad, all our friends came and everyone was going crazy, just as it should be.
I guess doing a “first show” when all four of you have played with other bands for years is not quite as nerve-wracking.
S: I have to say, I can only really speak for myself, but in regards to this band vs. the other bands I’ve been in, it’s not nerve-wracking at all. It’s just kind of like, are we playing show? Okay, cool. In other bands I’ve been worried about this person or that person or whatever, but in Obliterations, everyone has been doing it for so long there’s not much to worry about.
So you guys have four songs recorded, are you planning on rounding it out with a few more for an album release?
S: We have four songs that are coming out in September on a 7 inch, and then we just recorded four more that we were thinking about putting on another 7 inch, but I think we’re actually going to save them for a 10 inch EP.
Any tours planned?
S: We are going to do about six shows next month in California. We’re going to do Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, LA, Oakland, San Francisco, and half of those are going to be with Black Breath from Seattle.
Would you say all of you have pretty similar influences?
S: Yeah totally. We all kind of grew up on the same music, whether it’s punk or rock or whatever it might be. That was pretty evident the minute we started. We all love every era of Black Flag but we also all love Alice Cooper and The Stooges or whatever. It’s super easy to reference stuff in this band.
Let’s say next year the world is your oyster and you can tour with any two bands on the planet. Who would you tour with?
S: I would first want to say Black Sabbath, but the fact that Bill Ward isn’t playing drums anymore is kind of a bummer. But let’s say Black Sabbath with Bill Ward on drums. And shit…what would be the other band? I would choose these based on being able to see some of my favorite bands play. So I would say Rolling Stones. I think that’s a good tour. Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Obliterations.
You guys would headline obviously.
Tell me a little bit about this band Groovy Temple you guys played with on July 4th. I’ve been hearing so much about them.
S: Seriously, they’re probably better than Nirvana. Like, I saw Nirvana a lot, and honestly Groovy Temple’s first show was better than any Nirvana show I’ve ever seen. I mean I love Nirvana, they’re great and their shows were great. But Groovy Temple? The world is not even ready yet.
Tell me what’s coming up for Obliterations.
S: Well hopefully a bunch of releases. Like I was saying, we have that 7 inch and we’re probably going to do a 10 inch, and we have a split 7 inch with Nü Sensae coming out. And kind of keep that going until we figure out who we are going to do a record with. Other than that, just playing as many shows as we can. Probably tour, like really tour, when we have more releases out.