By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Imagine for a minute that it's 1994 all over again. And while you're at it, you might as well pretend that eight-bit technology knows no limits. Ready? Okay: if it were possible to slip a Weezer CD into a dusty Nintendo console and press record, the resulting sound—think the Tetris theme song blended with the harmonies-galore, mathematical power-pop "Buddy Holly"—might come pretty close to approximating the synth-driven nerd-angst of Ozma.
Staples in the OC keyboard scene of yesteryear (they jammed with the kids in Smile before those kids morphed into adults and formed Satisfaction), the county's addiction to Ozma was as passionate as the burning of a thousand training bras. Recently reunited after a two-year split, the band has begun playing to fans past and present, some equipped with microchips from the first alt.-pop-revival go-round and some who inherited all their big brother's scratched CDs when he traded up for an iPod. Guitarist Daniel Brummel—who passed the time during the band's breakup interim period by relocating to Manhattan, cutting a folksy album and getting hitched—tells how the kids are going back to the future.
So why did you decide to re-band? Is it the original lineup?
Well, the short answer is we decided that we were worthless without each other. We had a good thing going once, so why not revisit that? It's the same lineup, but we had some personal issues with our old drummer so we got a new drummer, Kenn Shane, who played drums in the band Addison.
Are you recording? What direction are the new songs heading?
Right now, we're working on lots of new material and will record a demo this month to shop to labels. Stylistically we're picking up where we left off, working towards an even more futuristic aesthetic. We see Ozma as the musical equivalent of the movies Tron and Back to the Future. It's all very synth-driven, focusing on melodic counterpoint between the bass and lead guitar and synth. There's a kind of spontaneous vibe to the melodies—and not to let the cat out of the bag, but we've been using the vocoder a lot. We're striving for futurism.
Do you think pop music fans are fickle? How relevant is this genre of music today?
Pop music is the most communal sort of music when you can get a crowd together, singing along to all the words and with that energy. Record labels are the fickle ones. They are too concerned with trends and not how much a band connects with their audience. Popular music is always relevant, as long as it's made popular by the listeners and not the labels.
Have your fans stuck with you since Ozma's heyday?
It's pretty awesome. There are people who have stayed with us since the beginning, and we've made friends with fans all over the world. The coolest thing is that they're turning on their little bros and sisters to the stuff we wrote when we were that age. It may be hard for people in their 20s to relate to, but the 16-year-olds can dig in and connect.
What's the live show going to involve? Are you going to be wearing futuristic space suits or doing any synchronized robotic dancing?
Futuristic space suits and robotic dancing are kind of already covered by our friends 8-Bit from Highland Park. We're still figuring out how to have laser warfare between guitars and 3D laser animation onstage during the set. It'll be a pretty good lighting setup and, in terms of the music, keep the energy up, keep the guitars loud in the mix and sing our hearts out, and hopefully people will get it.
OZMA RETURN TO THE STAGE WITH THE 88, SATISFACTION AND ONEREPUBLIC ON FRI. AND THE COLOR TURNING, STRATAGEME AND DAYS IN BETWEEN ON SAT. AT CHAIN REACTION, 1652 W. LINCOLN AVE., ANAHEIM, (714) 635-6067; WWW.ALLAGES.COM. FRI.-SAT., 7:30 P.M. BOTH SHOWS SOLD OUT. ALL AGES.