Band of the Week: Ouster

Band of the Week: Ouster
Photo courtesy of Ouster

MEET THE BAND: Desarae Petersen (vocals, guitar), Matt Meinke (vocals, bass), Richard Spitalsky (drums)

A RANDOM THING: Petersen grew up in Wasilla, Alaska, and moved to the Cleveland area for college in 2008.  Meinke grew up in Northeast Ohio.  They met in 2012 while working at the Get Go in Avon. "It was the most random thing," says Petersen when asked about how she met Meinke. "I hadn't played music in five years, and I missed it a lot. He was the first person to get me to play music in front of anyone." They formed the band in 2013 (with the placeholder name Darling Daylight) as a mash-up of sorts of the two local indie rock bands Daylight Is the Dream and Darling.  Ouster has gone through a couple lineup changes to find a reliable drummer, and last year, Richard Spitalsky of the local indie rock band Extra Medium Pony joined the band.

CLASSIC AND FAMILIAR: During the past two years, Petersen and Meinke recorded their first LP, Muted Window/Hollow Dive, at Upper Room Recordings in Elyria. One of the tracks, "You Don't Want Out," was the first song that they co-wrote and the first song they recorded straight to 7-inch tape. "Ouster's goal is to make music that is relatable, classic and familiar," says Petersen. "[We want] to give listeners a safe place to be in their heads. Everybody has been through something and we are very happy to be able to put music out there to help those who need it in hard times. Politics, mental health and drug abuse are main themes in a lot of the songs on the album and things we are very passionate about."

THE REEL THING: Petersen says working with producer Doug Bittner at Upper Room was "amazing." "He is really good at directing us and telling us where we shouldn't be so lo-fi." Once recording for the album commenced, a number of the songs were written in the studio.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Songs such as the boisterous "You Don't Want Out" sound like the Strokes if they were fronted by a female singer, and "Millionaires Row" benefits from the contrast between distorted guitars and plaintive vocals. "We wanted the record to have a '60s vibe. We made it dirty on purpose and used a four-track TEAC tape machine. That was a fun thing to use as a tool. We really like the warmth of it. Live, we sound a little heavier than we do on the record."

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: Facebook.com/oustermusiccle 

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Ouster performs with Soft Copy and Nah Nah at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, at the Happy Dog as part of a benefit for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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