If punk-rock is a response to anything, it’s pop—music, culture, that which is mass produced and consumed—which is why their combination requires such a delicate balance. With State Lines, singer and guitarist Jade Lilitri successfully maneuvered the two simultaneously; the band’s brand of fuzz and bounce, bite and fun, found its stride just before it fizzled out. Jonathan does more than maintain balance under a new name, Oso Oso; he seems to extend his capacity in both domains.
Indeed, the songs that make up his first full-length Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters feel equal parts coarse and tangled and inescapable. But, Real Stories never becomes too pop or too punk, and never stumbles into pop-punk’s shiftless landscape. Instead, Oso Oso sets pop against punk, lets them tear into each other until the result is as ragged as it is anthemic.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Lilitri to discuss the record, which dropped via Soft Speak Records on June 9. This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
I think I’d say the first song that was written on this record dates back to like spring of 2014 jamming with my old band State Lines. That process kinda continued like literally all the way up until we were done recording the last note of the last song on the record, the lyric changes/rearrangements/restructuring/rewriting was almost endless.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
If I’m being totally honest there wasn’t much trouble with any tracks at all. I definitely had to jam a couple different incarnations of ‘where you’ve been hiding’ with a couple different crews of friends and musicians and could’nt get my finger on it completely or feel totally comfortable with it. But in the end I ended up recording the demo for that song entirely by myself so it was easy to move forward from that version.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
The song titled ‘Interlude’ on the record was a song that I kinda just wrote once in my head singing to myself all day while i was working delivering food. Because of that I kinda had no idea what I wanted the music to sound like. It felt like a very simple song. I think when we recorded the album version we kind of played with so many tones and pedals and did little cool things like swell up the guitars and I think it just turned into something way more vibey and cool than I could’ve imagined. I was very stoked on it.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
This record was recorded on Long Island like 40 minutes away from where I live so it was actually pretty cool. We had the luxury of having friends come in all the time and throw suggestions here and there, we had a day where we did some roomy group vocal stuff for this “i felt fine” part in the chorus of the song ‘another night’ and that was a funny memory. As far as more in depth playing on the record goes, my friend Jimmy played all the drums on the record, which was so sick because this is the first time I ever didn’t play drums on a record I was putting out. So it was cool to be able to have way more versatile drum parts and fills than I could imagine doing. And my friend Bobby was such a huge help in advising what kinda tone we should push for on certain tracks, or like if we had an idea, he was able to point us in the direction of which pedals we should use and stuff like that. He also played some riffage on some select tracks.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
The record was produced Billy Mannino and his assistant Mark Masterson at Haverford Recording in East Meadow Long Island and it was unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life. We started recording demo’s in September with the recording of the actual album starting in December and going up until February. Working with Billy was so rad because he had a solid understanding and familiarity with the projects I’ve done in the past as well as his own individually formed opinion on where I excel in songwriting on certain areas and where I fall flat on my face, which I think is totally something you want in someone you’re collaborating and creating with. Also I think he’s just so patient and in a way I guess that patience was lent to him listening to me go on these cheesy, stonerish rants about my “vision” for the record. I think that along with some other conversations we would have while recording allowed him to get a really good idea of not only where we wanted to go with this record, but it allowed him to make some really killer suggestions/ideas that I think made the record what it is. I can honestly say it feels just as much mine as it belongs to everybody involved with creating it.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
The record tries to tell the story of two people who go separate ways after a lengthy relationship. It kind of just has to deal with how sometimes what seems like the most significant encounter can keep you more stagnant then you realize and how sometimes the most random short lived encounters can have quite a significant effect of your perception of the life around you. I think there’s a lot to read into with the title of the record alone, which deals with the anxiety of letting strangers into these vulnerable, intimate moments with you, as well as how we tend to treat others, consciously and subconsciously.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
Yeah we’ve played these songs for some people and the reactions have gone from piss poor to just straight up sour, I’ve told some pretty good jokes in between the songs of the set though that got some laughs here and there….probably should’ve put those jokes on the album.
(Visit Oso Oso here:https://www.facebook.com/osoosoband.)