In Japanese folklore, the Oni is a malevolent shape-shifting demon, able to take on many guises as it spreads pain and misery. Canada however has its own Oni, and with the release of their album via Metal Blade Records, and a recent tour with Children of Bodom, MM found out more.
Interview by Mark Freebase
MM: Oni’s sound is technical yet extremely intense, along with more melody than one may initially expect. What can you tell us about the creative process of the band’s sound?
Oni: When we wrote for Ironshore it was pre-composed riffs beforehand, and then I come in with the vocals and melody after that. My stuff was after… So that’s it I guess, how our cocktail is mixed.
MM: And how does the Xylo-synth fit with it all? Why did you choose to use one?
Oni: We just thought another layer of melody would be good for the band. At the time we wanted another guitar player, but we already had two guitar players so it wouldn’t really make sense to get another one… so we just thought we should let John try out for the band and it was a no brainer because as soon as he auditioned we realised that he was a keeper. He helps a lot with the arrangements of the songs also – not as much writing, like the main riffs, but writing solos on top of what’s there.
MM: Is it a sound the band had been working on for some while or is it just what naturally comes from the writing process?
Oni: In John’s old band, Sledgehammer, he was kind of a guitar player in that he played the same role as there were no guitarists in that metal band at all, it was just him. In this band, there are guitars so his sound provides more of an accompanying or solo role. I’m trying not to sound pretentious saying that but it’s hard. I think the band members are all from a progressive background (Brandon for example was in Assassinated Falling and Pomegranate Tiger, and a lot of our sound comes from Pomegranate Tiger, even though there were no vocals) and have been developing that progressive sound and style for a long time in multiple different bands so we have always kind of had that sound.
MM: Where does Oni see itself amongst the extremely vast world of the metal spectrum? What bands do you see yourself alongside?
Oni: I don’t really think about that to be honest. I know we are a new band but we’re doing a lot of cool things that a lot of new bands aren’t doing, so I don’t think we necessarily fit into the spectrum at all!
MM: So how do you intend to re-create the intensity of the songs on the stage?
Oni: By playing them properly! By practicing them a lot and making them sound good live. We always review our shows and listen to the recordings from our shows and all that, and we are always working to improve on things. Practicing together and always being very critical about our performances is key to us, not in a mean or negative way, but just to always keep improving and keep making it better but yeah, this recent Children Of Bodom tour is the best we have sounded and the most like the album we have sounded ever and you know… a lot of that is to do with what we’ve hit, we’re now around our 100th show, and I think from here on out we’ll just be a force to be reckoned with.
MM: Do you think it’s easier now to recreate the live sound now then?
Oni: Yeah, definitely.
MM: How does the album artwork and album title tie in with things? The album image is pretty powerful.
Oni: I think the artwork is important because you want a visual side to the music and I think we are such an ominous beast of a band that the album artwork must work. It represents all about Oni and what we do very well. Ironshore (black metal looking coral) is what’s on the album artwork as well, so it all ties into things really well.
MM: What is more important for the band- intensity or melody?
Oni: I think because we’re an extreme metal band first, intensity is more important. But we’re also melodic and I like to do a lot of singing, proper singing too, so maybe actually I think it’s both equally important…? I find as cool as the really heavy stuff is, I want to go heavier with more brutal vocals and more breakdowns in the future. But as far as live performances it’s so much more rewarding to really nail the clean singing parts live. I guess I’m indecisive. There’s a time and place for everything, both melody and heaviness.
MM: How does Oni intend to get noticed in an ever expanding music scene and would you say there are any incentives?
Oni: We have really good management and we get pushed very well and we get on really good tours, and we’re a good band. I don’t want to toot my own horn but we deserve to be where we are and every band that has toured with us has been impressed by our playing capabilities and the amount of talent that we have to offer. We’re really hungry and we’re not going to stop or plan on stopping anytime soon.
MM: What’s the band plans for the foreseeable future?
Oni: We are definitely going to do a new video. Only Cure was great and we want to do another one for sure. We’re going to tour more with Devin Townsend and then Gojira for some US dates and then maybe some festivals in there too. Yeah, we want to be writing as well in May or June and just keep going with that and just try to make another badass album for you guys soon…
Ironshore is out now on Metal Blade Records.