Oxy-Generation: Despite ongoing reports to the contrary, rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t need saving. Music isn’t pie, cut into genre slices. Rather, people are capable of enjoying more than one thing. Certain genres might enjoy their time in the spotlight, but those things are cyclical.
With all of that said though, it is nice when a band comes along and shakes things up a bit, and the Oxys are doing just that (whether they know it or not). The Austin punk troupe released their debut album A Date With the Oxys last year, and have already dropped the sophomore effort, Generation Irrelevant. No rest for the wicked.
Dedicated Punks will already be familiar with guitarist Jason “Ginchy” Kottwitz – he was a member of a recent incarnation of the Dead Boys, led by Cheetah Chrome, that played a string of strong shows in these parts.
“Tumultuous and fun would be a great description of that,” Ginchy says. “I had a blast doing it. It was a great time. I had already been playing all those songs with Cheetah before (in his solo band), so it was really nothing too new for me other than the fact that Cheetah had brought in a singer (Jake Hout) and Ricky (Rat, bass) got on board. It was chaos. A lot of opinions about that whole scenario. I just tried to go up there every night and do it justice, I guess.”
The reformed Dead Boys was a total nostalgia fest, and that’s fine. That’s what everyone wanted from that band. But the Oxys is all about new material, and the band is churning it out at an impressive rate, without letting the quality drop one bit. The Oxys was, in fact, formed during the pandemic as an outlet for Ginchy’s writing.
“It was a little bit of a process to form the band, I guess,” he says. “I’ve been writing a lot of music, when I was playing with Cheetah and doing the Dead Boys thing – I was constantly in a state of writing music, and when the pandemic hit, I wanted to put that music to use. I had met the singer (Phil Davis) in Austin, and had given him some demos. I liked what he sent back to me, so we just started writing songs. It’s been about seven or eight months, writing songs. I think we probably had 50 demos for that first record, and we just chose the songs that we thought sequenced best, and put it out. At the time, we didn’t have any real intention of doing a band that played shows and stuff. We were just trying to occupy our time during the pandemic.”
When A Date With the Oxys was done, Ginchy still had more songs ready to go, so the band immediately set to work on what would become Generation Irrelevant.
“We had a ton of songs, so we demoed another 50 songs, and same thing, just picked the songs that we thought sequenced into an album the best,” Ginchy says. “That’s the second record. We’re still forging forward with tracking the third record right now. I have a fourth record ready to go, too. It seems to be the never-ending songwriting binge.”
That’s 50 songs demoed for the debut album, then another completely separate 50 demoed for the new one, and so on. That’s a frankly astonishing work rate, again considering that the songs all hit home with intensive precision. The sound is one that will appeal to fans of the Dead Boys, New York Dolls, and Stooges, but also contemporary punk and gloriously trashy rock ‘n’ roll bands.
“I try to write songs that I would want to hear,” Ginchy says. “I definitely had a vision for what I was doing. Just the basic sound of the band, I’m looking at Malcolm Young on one guitar and Johnny Thunders on the other. That’s how I write our stuff. All of our songs are written for two guitars and I write all those parts. I’ve heard lots of comparisons. I’ve had people tell me some of it sounds like early Replacements, some of it sounds like the Damned, some of it sounds like the Humpers — it’s all across the board.”
The lineup has shifted slightly between records, but bassist Gabriel Van Asher and drummer Chris Alaniz were both in Cheetah Chrome’s solo band plus New York Dolls man Sylvain Sylvain & the Sylvains, with Ginchy. New guitarist Genocide has been in bands around Austin before, and she’s a former adult movie star. It’s perhaps a natural then that there’s been some evolution in sound between records.
“Every album, we’re demoing new stuff,” Ginchy says. “I think on the third record, we did take one song from the batch from the first record of demos because it just happened to sequence well with that album. But for the most part, every time we get done with an album and start writing a new one, we’re moving forward in a progressive manner. So the songs I think have a natural evolution to them for certain. You can hear that big time between the first and second record. They’re similar, but clearly on the second record the tempos are more aggressive, the songs are just more aggressive in general, whereas the first record really sits more in that proto punk realm I would say.”
Generation Irrelevant was tracked at Ice Cream Factory Studios in Austin, after which Ginchy took the songs home and mixed them himself.
“I do audio professionally, so I guess it’s considered DIY because we are actually doing it ourselves,” he says. “It definitely saves a lot of money. But mainly I mix it just because I want to make it sound exactly how I want it to sound. It’s really hard to convey that when you’re working with a different producer or engineer.”
The sound is wonderful — snotty and sleazy in all of the most delicious ways. Again, rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t need saving, but the Oxys are going to do it anyway.
Oxy-Generation: The Oxys’ Generation Irrelevant is out now.
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