They'll Turn You On & Tune You In
Interview by The Dedicated Rocker Society
Few young bands have embraced classic rock as fully as the Hungarian rock back, Ozone Mama. Their music is deeply rooted in the back catalogs of the Rolling Stones, Free, the Faces, and any number of early '70s hard rockers. The Budapest based four-piece combo started up in late 2005. Lead singer Marton Szekely, guitarist Andras Gabor, bassist Zoltan Szamoskozi and drummer Vivien Tiszai.
The continuously gigging band actively takes part in the Hungarian rock scene, already gained both local and international positive reviews with their 2010 debut album 'Starship Has Landed' and their recent 2013 release 'Freedom EP' and with their distinctive vintage-sound they fill a gap in the Hungarian music scene.
Some of the band's achievements include; Hungarian Grammy-Fonogram 2012: "Newcomer Of The Year” and Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands 2013: "Local Winner Of Hungary”. The band were also in Classic Rock Magazine's 2013 Summer Issue, they were featured on the additional "Unleashed Vol. II" CD with there song "I Really Care" (next to bands like Stonerider!!!) They also will be the local support band at the Budapest gig for Monster Magnet's 'Last Patrol Tour' on the 29th of January, 2014!!! (Less then in 3weeks). Ozone Mama were featured on the internet radio WMMT 88.7 (www.wmmt.org) this past December with a new song "The Juggernaut" being put in rotation, the broadcast is available in 5 states in America.
The heavy blues licks and nasty rock’n roll vibe of Ozone Mama verges on a powerful, psychedelic groove that draws from the essence of 70's rock and mixed it with a hint of the cult alternative bands from the 90’s.
Ozone Mama's music is made to turn you on, tune you in and drop you out, to make your hips shake, or simply to help you escape the grey weekdays. Be ready for the vast hurricane what mighty Mama brings!!
Ozone Mama's guitarist, András Gábor gives us the lowdown behind his band and what they are all about. Here's what he shared with us...
"We started Ozone Mama with the singer, my good friend Marci around 2006. The line-up has been going through some changes during the years. The band’s name is coming from a Black Crowes song as we are major fans of the Robinson brothers, though we were never intended to be a Crowes cover-band and our music is quite different but the strong BC influence is there among the others which would mainly be blues, americana, classic rock, psychedelic/alternative or stoner-rock…"
Q: Who are your musical influences?
"The late 60’s, early 70’s rock caught my attention in a relatively early age. This period was the „golden age” for rock n’ roll. My sister gave me one of her Allman Brothers tapes as she used to live in the States for a while back then, I was immediately hooked on it. Then came Zeppelin, AC/DC, Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Cactus, Mountain, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Creedence CRB, Stones, Faces, Stooges, MC5, etc.. British Invasion and American classic rock.
I collect some contemporary band's albums as well as whose music resembles this era. There is a new americana rock renaissance going on, at least this is how I see it from Budapest - Hungary, the other side of the pond. I am talking about bands like The Rival Sons, Steepwater Band, The Black Keys, Clutch, etc.."
Q: What separates Ozone Mama from the other rock bands that are out right now?
"What separates us from these bands is that we are not US-based, nor UK-based rock band, we still sing in English though, we consider ourselves to be a "Hungarian Americana” band per se. There are great rock bands coming out from the Scandinavian countries as well which ones are totaly nailing the vintage garage fuzz rock stuff, think the Hellacopters for example, but only a few or in fact none of them come from our home: Budapest, Hungary. We are probably the very first local band which has ever been featured in the Classic Rock Magazine so far. (2013 Summer issue, additional Unleashed CD Vol. II). That was a huge honor for us, being featured on the same compilation CD with bands like Stonerider!! (My only complaint is that the author wrote 80’s sounding band”, well we definitely sound more like a 70’s band, probably it was just some mis-print, haha.) Personally, I also listen to a lot of pre-war delta blues, I love motown and the early 90’s was a significant musical period in my life with all the alternative bands like Pearl Jam or Blind Melon..."
Q: What is the rock music scene like in your native Hungary? What kind of support do you get from the local media outlets, T.V., radio,etc.?
"Hungarian ethnic/folk music and jazz are quite unique and famous world-wide but let’s talk about the rock n’ roll scene which is less fortunate one. We have a lot of good bands, top musicians and other gifted talents out there but due to the lack of support promotion or possibilities so many bands keep singing in Hungarian. With English lyrics you would hardly be mentioned on the same page with the local rockstars which is such a shame really. I won’t sugarcoat the topic, without years of hard working, good management, good promotion and doing something exceptional it is quite impossible to get famous here.
We already have gained pretty good media feedback, a massive audience following us and one of the most important local radios stations play a couple of our songs, but our story doesn’t stop here, we would like to get out and be heard outside the country too. We would not be able to do that without English lyrics. we have already played a couple of shows abroad. It’s a great thing.
There is still a long way to go for Hungary and a lot of changes to be made in the music business and the people’s way of thinking when it comes to introducing local bands to the international scene. However I think it would be a mutual benefit for the bands and the country too. There is a blues artist called Little G. Weevil for example, who has just been nominated for Grammy in the USA, well I tell you the truth: he is Hungarian, so that’s what I am saying and we are really proud of that guy, I had the pleasure to meet him when he was still living in Hungary."
Q: Let's talk about your two releases, 'Starship Has Landed' and the
'Freedom EP'. How long did it take to record those albums?
"'The Starship Has Landed', our debut album was recorded with the original core-members. It took years, because we run out of funds after we had started recording it, so we had to earn money again and again until enough was gathered up to pay the studio. Hard times they were and the bulky circumstances and long breaks in between the recordings affected the quality.. Well, there is always something to learn.
'The Freedom' EP was different, we recorded and mixed it in a couple of months. We gathered up a good amount for a start wit ... h an Indiegogo kickstart-campaign. It worked, seems like there are good people out there supporting rock n’ roll! We went to the right studio, probably the best here in Budapest and I can say that. One of our songs from the EP (TheJuggernaut) has been selected and put in a live broadcast rotation list of the internet radio WMMT 88.7. It can be heard in five states of the US."
Q: What is the song writing process like for you? Is a group effort or is there one person who writes the lyrics and another writes the music?
When I come up with a riff or idea, I bring it down to rehearse, we start playing it and after a while a new song is born. Sometimes we start jamming, but there is a concrete idea in the center most of the time so that makes us a jam-band actually. Basically I write the music and the lyrics, but the songs are reaching their final shape in the rehearse room with the other members’ contribution. The vocal melodies are coming from our singer, we record it and I write the lyrics then he needs to customize them with his own ideas. So actually our process is the same as the Rolling Stones used to do, music comes first then the vocal melodies. When all done we write the lyrics matching the melodies.
Q: What can we expect to hear on your next album?
"The same old good rockin’ on the next level. Probably more sophisticated song-writing. I really like to experiment with various instruments. So when we are in studio we always come up with new things to try out, like let’s puta bit of Hammond organ in here, some Wurlitzer piano, how about a spooky mellotron and some maracas for the intro, maybe a hint of space echo or plate reverb on the vocals to sound a bit like Lennon in Strawberry Fields, etc.. When we were recording the 'Freedom EP' we had a much better-established idea about how we wanted the record to sound. I use old tube amps, some boost pedals, mean fuzz-boxes, tape echos, univibe, sometimes a rotary effect, so I always try to develop the sound before we start recording. We love all what’s vintage so we even tried this singing into a harp-mic through a small tube amp” thing on the 'Freedom' EP. However hard it is to be "original” in 2014, the best way to shape your own music and to create your own style is to play and grow together with the bandmates and I love doing this, I love my band. I never deny our influences but we definitely avoid the easy and cheap way of ripping off our favorite band’s music."
Q: Some of your memorable moments you experienced while recording your albums, good or bad?
"Well, I have got a funny one. We were working really hard one night at the studio on some vocal takes. Singer was in the recording room and after recording the chorus part, something sounded a bit weird with the melody probably due to the fact that we were exhausted after a whole night of singing, ears were tired. The studio guy tried to take part figuring out the right vocal melody and showed the singer what he should have sung on the appropriate part. He started singing his idea in such an ear-wrecking voice, so out of tune, we barely could hold ourselves back breaking up in laughter. That was sweet, the guy just wanted to help."
Q: As far as music videos go, you shot three already. What's next?
"Probably a psychedelic or animated video for a song from the 'The Freedom' EP. Yes Sir, that’s the plan. Again as it can be seen on our first couple of videos, quality was affected by the low budget. Our new video for the song "Go” was made by a professional team using the right equipment and they were doing a great job with all the editing, the result became far more convincing, of course these things cost more but it was worth it."
Q: How did you guys feel when you found out you were opening for Monster Magnet?
"Our beloved manager gathered up a band meeting one day around last September, we did not understand the mysterious acting what could be so important suddenly. She gave us an envelope one by one with a tiny message in it. When we opened up the envelope and read the tiny note saying: Ozone Mama to support Monster Magnet on the 29th of January 2014, we immediately jumped for joy after hearing the fantastic news."
Q: Speaking of shows, are there any plans to doing any shows in America? When and where was the last time you played in America?
"We have not been playing in the USA yet. We are working on it though, looking for a promoter or any kind of option to make it happen."
Q: Who would you like to tour with when you do come over? (Hopefully soon).
"We would love to tour with anyone in the USA if we had the opportunity. A tour with bands like Crobot or Monster Truck would be bad-ass, or our friends 68-75."
Q: Complete this sentence: The reason why you should check out, Ozone Mama is......
"A band that will turn you on, tune you in, drop you out and make your hips shake!"
Q: Any parting comments or messages you would like to pass along?
"We would like to thank You Tony for the interview, all the good people checking us out and supporting us. Music is salvation, and just like Mr. Eric Burdon used to sing about it: "They Can’t Take Away Our Music”. Music is something that sets us all free."
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