Not to long back we found ourselves in being given the extremely lucky opportunity to talk to a relatively new on the scene band, Oni at the Shepherds Bush Empire as they support Children of Bodom on their 20 years anniversary tour. Oni land very much in the progressive death metal park, and one of their most notable differences to other bands is the addition of a xylo-synth. We found ourselves with the chance to speak to the man behind the instrument, John DeAngelis about the band, the tour, and that odd instrument.
AC: How is the tour so far?
Johnny: It is awesome, the second time out with Children of Bodom and it is just as good, if not better!
AC: I’ve seen it’s a real eclectic line up with you guys Oni sitting in the extreme prog metal, CoB very much in the extreme Finnish death metal, and Forever Still are far from either...
Johnny: Hahaha, yeah! I love it though man, the different types of groups, the different types of music, the very different types of players, they’re all awesome and it makes it really cool.
AC: How does it feel to be on a tour with such a wide variety as opposed to just the one genre of bands playing?
Johnny: I really like it man, most of our tours have been like that, a very eclectic mix like you said, the roots tour was very eclectic. I guess the last Bodom tour was a little more straight lined, it was more shredder bands and player bands, but both have their advantages and it’s cool.
AC: Your debut Ironshore came out about 6 months ago, now that it’s been a little while, is there any part that makes you look back and wish you did something different?
Johnny: Oh of course man! It’s always the case right, you have to learn just to let go or you’ll just be trying to work out these songs forever. You’ll always have your little regrets but I just try not to think about it because I don’t want to think of the songs in that way, I want to be able to think that was just that snippet of time, we played it with all our hearts every night and it always comes off great. If we’re like nah, or start changes things too much you know, it never ends.
AC: Do you change much when you play it live at all, give it some variety?
Johnny: Yeah a little bit actually, sometimes we’ll add little things like add a few extra bars, something to like pump up the crowd or little things like that. Nothing like too structurally different or different notes...well actually I shouldn’t say that, we added a harmony onto one of the solos in thrive that isn’t on the album, because we couldn’t decide at the time, so we decided to not do it, then right after we were like “uhh, maybe we’ll just play that live!” but other than that it’s not too different!
AC: I was checking out you’re latest single recently, and you’ve got Randy Blythe in on it, was that ever intentional, to have somebody in to do guest vocals, or just something that got brought up and you run with it?
Johnny: Yeah, like we talked about having guests in, we have a guest guitar solo from Francesco Artusato from Devil You Know. We met Randy through Josh Wilbur our producer and it was kinda just like yeah, I think he kinda just really dug the song and were like, man that would be awesome just to have him on there because it’s definitely one of our on that side of the fence songs, you know more extreme metal, and having his vocals on it was just like such a great marriage, I love the way it sounded and love the way it turned out, and he is a super cool dude, we really got along with him.
AC: I’ve seen that you are back here for Bloodstock this year, that will be really great, are you looking forward to it? Have you ever actually been there before or is it your first time?
Johnny: No we haven’t, so it’s our first. We really feel excited about it, especially still be pretty new to this side of the Globe, the Devil You Know tour was our first over here ever, so yeah, it’s truly an honour to be added onto that festival.
AC: Awesome, I won’t be missing it that’s for sure! Have you got any other plans for the UK this year what with focussing mainly on touring?
Johnny: Well you know, I’ve heard a few things but nothing is set in stone or anything so I don’t really want to say just in case, but we’ll always be happy to come back, we love it here, always such a great time.
AC: I’m sure you get this all the time, but it’s the xylo-synth you play, how do you get into something like that, and then how do you approach or get approached with a band about bringing it in as a full time member?
Johnny: Yeah, I was very lucky in a way, it all kinda just fell into place, a number of us in the band all went to music school together, got our degrees and that’s how we know each other, I was playing in another band at the time, and it was kind of like a piano, metal, drums, piano, bass. It was interesting and people were like, “that’s cool, but it’s metal you need a guitar in.” We liked the keyboard thing though, I was playing the xylo-synth at school, and tried that out. I was playing guitar tones at first, it wasn’t the best sounding thing, but the idea was there, and then when we put Oni together, they were like, “hell yeah man, you should bring that in.” So they knew about it and were all very familiar with it, so it was nothing new to them.
AC: That’s cool, how much of it goes into the writing process for you? You’re obviously very involved in it, but do you ever step away or such?
Johnny: Yeah, we all write but it’s not like every single person has to have an input on every song and stuff, so if a guy or two run real well then we’ll kind of let them do their thing, and I’ll take care of my solos and stuff, a lot of my lead stuff and a lot of the more note-y passages, but then I don’t know anything about guitar so they’ll take care of the riffs. Not that I didn’t write any riffs! It’s just we all fill in the blanks for each other you know, it’s a good balance.
AC: Have you any plans to get back in the studio any time soon?
Johnny: We are actually working on some new songs now, we’re planning to have a few songs written for when we do get back in the studio, looking at the direction we want to go and length of the album and so on. Nothing too crazy, it’s still just the very beginning phases, but the thought is there
AC: Nice, finally, what’s been the highlight so far on the tour? And is there anything in particular that you’re really looking forward to that’s yet to come on this tour?
Johnny: Well damn that’s tough, all the shows so far have been amazing, last nights show in Manchester was awesome. Obviously getting to see Bodom play their first album every night, you know, being fans from the beginning, but I’ve never seen them play so many songs live before, and that’s just oh man! We’re really looking forward to Finland, being from there, it’s great the tour ends there, but just playing hard and having fun, that’s what it is all about!
Oni will be returning to the UK to play Bloodstock this year, seriously a band you do not want to miss!