Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fuzzy Memories of Ovlov

We decided to throw together a companion piece to Allston Pudding's Saying Farewell To Ovlov including "fuzzier" memories, mostly (or entirely) clouded by alcohol consumption.

These stories only represent a fraction of the Ovlov story. A complete history of Ovlov with every legitimately interesting anecdote would probably fill an entire book. And the story is far from over, with the next chapter (Stove's forthcoming LP and subsequent promotion cycle) just on the horizon. Rather than that, here's a collection of some memories from various friends compiled in (roughly) chronological order.

In mid-2009, Steve Hartlett had recently returned from touring in Guilty Faces with Brian Connor, Ian Moran and Tom Perkins.

Brian Connor (Guilty Faces): Steve played with us for a long time. Jon [Hartlett] played a few shows too where Steve had to play drums. *laughs*

Dave Rohlfing (Former College Radio DJ, Attorney): Ian played me something off the demo Steve recorded by himself. We were probably drinking beer. It sounded like Ozma, and it was cool. I don't think I saw the band play until a while after that, because it wasn’t really a band I guess. I remember seeing them play a bunch of times and thinking “they need more distortion, and to be louder” and then that happened. I remember hanging out with Steve and noticing how into music he is. I remember listening to The Swirlies while we drove to his house for some reason, and he said “this is what I want my band to sound like,” and he sure did them one better.

Michael Falc (Speedy Ortiz, Ovlov 2009-2011): There's a legend that Dini once jumped out of a moving car. The girl he was dating was playing Breaking Benjamin while he was in the passenger seat. He asked her to turn it off and she said no, so he opened up the car door and rolled onto the pavement. I guess he was scraped up pretty badly for about a month afterwards.

Dini (namedropped in Ovlov's song titles): Steve named my Volvo "Ovlov." I crashed it right before getting to his house. I tried taking a 90 degree turn going 60 mph.

The line-up on Ovlov's first EP was Steve Hartlett, Quentin Ham, Dave Berliner and Theo Hartlett.

Michael: Steve and Quentin brainstormed for riffs together for a while. I remember hearing a demo CD with 13 songs, and the first five of those ended up on the EP Crazy Motorcycle Jump. Dini contributed lyrics to a couple songs. The original idea was to have Dini as their lead singer. I guess he wasn't able to stick with it, but he still provided much inspiration. Ovlov wouldn't have happened without Dini or Quentin.

Dini: Quentin and I thought of the name Crazy Motorcycle Jump. I pictured Quentin jumping over fire with his motorcycle. Also, I met this off character on the subway once, who only talked about tennis ball bombs and motorcycle jumps in the main street.

Michael: After I started playing in Ovlov, I quickly learned that they always brought a pack of their friends to shows. When we played that festival in Hartford, Dini and Prorock were around. Our load-in was at 9AM. By 10AM, Ovlov and their entourage had already drank an entire tub cfull of free mini-Budweiser cans. At one point, Dini kept slapping my shoulder. He would say, "Hey Michael," followed by a grunting noise with his eyes rolled into the back of us head.

Dini: At. Bomb. Fest just. Grunting. And. Slapping you. All day.

Jesse Weiss (Grass Is Green, Palehound): I'll never forget the time I saw Ovlov at Heirloom Arts Theater. [While they were playing], I believe there was a huge projection screen with clips of MTV from the mid-'90s in rotation. Out of nowhere, Jon hurled his bass directly into the drum kit and before anyone could process what happened, he threw his body through the rest of the upright drums. All the while, Steve was face planted on the ground, and one of the cymbal stands came within inches of slicing his neck. Total stage destruction!

Michael: When we played with Geronimo in Providence, Chris Morgan and Garrett O'Connor came with us. Afterwards, we stayed at a nearby empty beach house that belonged to Chris's grandparents. And for some reason, Garrett shot me while I was sleeping at 4AM. He thought it would be funny to shoot me. The gun wasn't loaded, but I felt the compressed air from the gun. I woke up to everyone in the room trying not to crack up too hard.

Dave Rohlfing: I think I [moved to Alaska] toward the end of Ovlov's second hiatus. I never saw Ovlov play when it was all three Hartlett brothers, but I have heard they looked like a bunch of nerds, specifically like “a bunch of D&D nerds.” I never really saw them play any of the Am songs at all, now that I think of it, so that fucking sucks.

After moving to New Haven, Steve co-founded a basement DIY space named Fort Flesh. Between Summer 2011 and Fall 2012, they hosted about 10 of the most energetic DIY shows New Haven had ever seen. During that brief era, the New Haven scene seemed more exciting than any point since at least a decade earlier, if not longer.

Kiana Saroce (Blessed State, Potty Mouth): The first time I saw Ovlov was in 2012 at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA. I had just started listening to What's So Great About the City and Crazy Motorcycle Jump and was really into the band so it was cool to finally be able to see them. I met Steve and Jon after they played and we had some cool conversation and later became friends. After that night I started driving down to New Haven alone almost every weekend, because Ovlov was always playing a show at Fort Flesh.

Vitti (Razzmatazz): Fort Flesh was probably the coolest place. Kids were moshing in like the smallest room. It was like you could do whatever you wanted. I remember I think that kid Connor was smashing Theo's cymbals with a plastic sword. *laughs*

Kiana: It was always a great time; I would be drinking in the corner and would casually introduce myself to people which resulted in some really cool friendships, eventually going up front to sing along once they started their set, screaming out all the words to "I Got Well," everyone pushing each other around and jumping all over the place and having what seemed like the best time of their lives, myself included. It was always a drunk fucking mess anytime they played, in the best way.

Darl Ferm (Speedy Ortiz): It's mostly all about Vitti.

Michael: Fort Flesh was nicely furnished and surprisingly comfortable for a DIY basement space. It had carpeting and track lighting and interesting artwork. It was by far the nicest room in their house.

Ovlov's first LP Am was recorded in early 2013 and featured some guest musicians.

Devin Mcknight (Grass Is Green, Speedy Ortiz): When Steve asked me to play on Am, he refused to show me how to play the music. I kept asking him, and he was like "Nah, it's ok. Don't worry about it." So when I showed up to the session at Mike Thomas's house, I didn't bring anything, and Steve was like "Where's the whammy pedal?" And I was like "well, you didn't give me any context, so I just showed up." I ended up playing a solo on "Blue Baby," and my first try was really bad, but Steve was like "That was great! We're leaving it in!" but I was really unhappy with it. It was literally the first time I was hearing the song. I said "If you give me one more try, I know I can nail it," and afterwards he was like "That was even better!"

Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz, Quilty): Everytime I was asked to sing on Ovlov albums, they always used the first or second take, because Steve wanted everything to sound fresh. And as a result, I still don't know the words to any of the Ovlov songs I sang on. So anytime I got asked to sing with them on stage, I'm not singing the correct words.

In May & June 2013, Ovlov went on a 3-week tour with Grass Is Green.

Hayden Karnitz (Exploding In Sound Enthusiast) : When my 8th favorite band at the time - Grass Is Green - was finally playing within a doable driving distance (2-3 hours), I jumped at the chance. And not to forget, GiG was touring with Ovlov - a "band" I was pretty familiar with, but nowhere near my admiration level of GiG. I do recall arriving to the illustrious city of St. Paul and flipping off the first van with Massachusetts license plate I saw. I picked the right van.

Michael: None of them knew who this guy was, and he was driving alongside their van and flipping the bird for over an hour.

Hayden: Grass Is Green more or less refused to play "Tricky Tim." But Ovlov played "Blue Baby." "Lil Steve" - I mean, I'm really tall and in shape, but that's not the point here - has to open the rest of my beers with his teeth that night, because I sliced my finger open and bled onto my pillow. The next morning, we all went to The Mall of America.

Devin: We had these spontaneous "jam sessions" that would end up on Vine. One happened in Cleveland, and one happened in the Mall Of America in Minneapolis. Steve always had his one-hitter, so he would always just walk by something and start tapping, and before you know it, there's five douchebags walking around the Mall Of America being like *tap ta-tap ta-tap-tap tap-tap* It was always the same beat. Instant party. And on the Vine videos it looked even stupider and funnier.

Hayden: What followed was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen. GiG played "Cooter County," "Somebody's Something" and fucking finally "Tricky Tim." Why hasn't there been a farewell to Grass Is Green - a band that I actually like? Meanwhile, Steve is almost electrocuted and Boner is Boner. I get White Russians. I begin stumbling around Minneapolis in a light rain ironically tweeting "I hate Ovlov" over and over.

Cynthia Schemmer (Radiator Hospital): Our band played with Ovlov and Potty Mouth in New Haven at Cafe Nine. We were on a really weird diet at the time, so we had only ate vegetables. And we had these containers of vegetables sitting in our van for a long time. We were so excited to finally see Ovlov play. We ended up loving it right away, and not long afterwards we ended up on the split with Ovlov, Krill and Lvl Up.

Garrett O'Connor (shown running on the front cover of Am): We were at The Sinclair, and I needed a shower. So I took a shower [in the backstage dressing room], and afterwards I walked onto the stage wearing just the towel. And Steve ran on stage and grabbed me off. I found the video a week or 2 ago. I think beer might have to do with some of these bright ideas, along with the adrenaline that Ovlov pumps through my cochleas. They also played a show at Great Scott where they were so loud that part of the ceiling collapsed and fell right next to me. One foot to my left.

Hayden: They rolled with "The Great Blah Blah" for some of their last tracks. I saw them play in Baltimore at a space that didn't allow alcohol. WTF. I missed "The Great Crocodile" because Sam from Two Inch takes forever to finish his measly PBR that I generously offered. This is the last time I see Ovlov. Nine times. How have I seen them nine times?

Kiana: I can honestly say that I've never loved/given more of a shit about a CT band more than them.

Hayden: Jump to 2015: Ovlov officially "calls it quits." I assume this would be: The 5th time Ovlov has "broken up," but everyone thinks it's for real this time. But there's Stove now. It's probably a better name than "Lil Steve."

Garrett: I've probably never paid to get into an Ovlov show. *laughs*


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Grass is Green needs a farewell?

  3. No more Ovlov = great sadness for me. Somehow I missed out when they were active (hey northeast: Atlanta is a place. It exists. Promise!), and now I'm sadly aware it's over before I could even get on the wagon. 😡