In the mid-to-late ’90s, O’Death haunted Brooklyn’s creaky loft spaces as cracker-barrel mad men, an angry Man Man who worshipped Neil Young instead of Captain Beefheart, wore overalls instead of dirty white linens. As country-noise loons, the five piece was best known for yelling, hooting, hollering, stamping, and glaring like they might beat the shit out of you–or each other–and regularly attacked the stage like they’d just been rescued out from under a cinderblock-propped car, instruments and all.
But the band went on a hiatus after drummer David Rogers-Berry was diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor–fortunately, his health is better (“He’s doing well, thank you for asking,” writes banjo/ukulele player Gabe Darling, from somewhere deep on tour) and he’s now equipped with a prosthetic arm bone. And what’s emerged is a different O’Death. It’s still the same cast of characters, but they’ve toned down the lunatic act, grown far more meditative in their songwriting, and acquired a solemn world-weariness. Whatever transformed them might not have been pretty, but it’s made for some gorgeously plaintive folk-punk. Case in point: “Bugs,” the two-minute opener to their upcoming full-length, Outside, “about wasting your life, fearing the end and the great unknowns that surround it,” writes Darling, and the idea that “maybe we need to let ourselves free of that.”
Why did you decide to make this video yourselves?
i had a vague concept in mind, and Greg and I were film majors and we had never made our own video before. it seemed like the time was right. So I fleshed it out and made masks came up with costume designs and we did it one weekend.
Where was this video filmed?
We filmed it up on the coast of Maine in the Biddeford/Portland area. Really beautiful area up there. Quite cold though.
Tell me about the concept for the video. It’s dark, with pagan undertones.
I’ve always loved abstract ritual and masks. Maybe I’m a pagan. I wanted faces to be obscured and only occasionally you would see an eye. They are protected detached personalities and the only faces you see are fake. It’s sort of broadly thematically attached to the lyrical content.
What would be the ideal film scene to have “Bugs” soundtrack?
That’s tough. I would have to say a night-time driving montage or maybe a drug overdose or both.