Биография Ours

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In a dark world, we’re drawn toward fire. But within the fire, there is danger, and a different kind of darkness. On Precious, the new album from Ours, Jimmy Gnecco is the fire. His voice seduces, soothes then slashes through the skin of indifference. The songs are a shout of anger or a cry of pain, unleashed from inches away.

The band’s debut album, 2001’s Distorted Lullabies, also seemed wrenched from the guts of someone who, for all his youth, had weathered a lifetime of turmoil. But Precious comes like sonic surf from a place even more unsettled. Though Distorted Lullabies was released only last year, to Gnecco it already seems a century away. "By the time we were done recording Distorted Lullabies, it had become something different from what we’d originally intended, " Gnecco reveals, "but we learned to love it for what it had become. When we finished Precious, we had achieved our intent it came across in the music. "

It takes only a few seconds to recognize that Precious (set for release Nov. 5, 2002, on DreamWorks Records) is something totally different from Distorted Lullabies. It’s more focused, with less sweetening. The band is more up-front in the mix. Gnecco, guitarist Dave Milone, bassist Race, keyboardist Anthony DeMarco and producer/drummer Ethan Johns reveal more rough edges, but more passion, too. Their collective performance is so raw, so stripped to the bone, that, at times, it can be emotionally difficult to listen to, yet impossible to ignore. "I had such high expectations for the first album, " Gnecco admits. "I wanted it to be perfect, but that meant some of the music started to feel suffocated after a while. Looking back, that taught me that the really perfect take is about imperfection. " And so, as the Precious sessions began, new creative principles were established: No computers. No sequencing. Go for complete takes. Dive into the process. Take creative risks without fear or compromise. Break the rules. If Gnecco could pull more out of himself singing into a hand-held stage mic than a big-bucks studio model, screw it he held the mic. "That’s why the album is called Precious, " Gnecco says, "because it was anything but precious. It sounds like we made it up on the spot, and yet, the performances are solid. That’s exciting to us. "

The excitement is felt on tracks like "Kill The Band, " in its cathartic vocals and ear-bending dissonances. It’s present in the urgency of "Realize, " which Gnecco wrote in 15 minutes, between takes, and jammed onto tape with the band moments later. It’s in "Outside, " an enigmatic miniature, more suggestion than substance, recorded spontaneously by Gnecco and Race on two acoustic guitars, and in a powerful reworking of the Velvet Underground’s "Femme Fatale. " Much of the energy burning through Precious was ignited by the chemistry between Ours and Ethan Johns. From sessions with Emmylou Harris, Rufus Wainwright, Whiskeytown and other talents, the young producer/drummer had earned a reputation for aggressive, intuitive and inspired sound-crafting. According to Gnecco, he was exactly the right guy to sit behind the glass for Precious. Perhaps even more importantly, he proved to be OURS’ ideal drummer.

"For 10 years we’ve been searching for a type of drummer I wasn’t even sure existed any longer, " the singer says. "But when Ethan sat down and played, we knew we’d found that drummer. He was brought up around The Who and Zeppelin and The Beatles and The Stones these were all bands his dad [legendary producer Glyn Johns] recorded so he understood exactly what we wanted, which was to work in a contemporary way but with the same values music had back in those days. That meant good songs that weren’t Pro-Tooled to death and performances that stood on their own as moments in time rather than attempts at perfection. "

What resulted from this convergence are varied emotional tributaries that share a common depth. At times they are teasingly ambiguous. When Gnecco whips "Disaster In A Halo" into a frenzy by repeating "Nothing really matters" over and over, is he surrendering to nihilism or exulting in his freedom from long-held fears? And what is the message when he spits, "I can act just like your brother/ I can dress just like your mother" on "In A Minute?"

"That’s actually an older song, " Gnecco explains. "It goes back to when we were trudging around New York trying to find gigs. We did everything we possibly could to get work ? except for pretending we were something we weren’t. That’s why this band is called Ours, because we weren’t going to do what somebody else wanted us to do. So this song is saying to those club owners: We’re not going to become the next trendy thing just to play for you. "

For the members of Ours, New York was a vision across the Hudson from their homes in New Jersey. They started playing together in high school, working out original songs, ditching classes to catch shows in the city, reaching for opportunities that always seemed just beyond reach. "We knew we’d have a much better time in our little rehearsal room than we would playing in Jersey, where everyone just wanted to hear covers of heavy metal bands, " Gnecco explains. "We wouldn’t play those gigs, so we ended up not being able to get any gigs. "

For a while they broke up. Gnecco picked up odd jobs while reassessing his work. But in 1996 the group reformed. The energy had changed. By virtue of his unsparing self-critique, Gnecco’s writing had grown more perceptive, less preoccupied with hopelessness. "There was too much self-pity in my older songs, " he says. "I’ve always been a huge fan of Morrissey and The Cure, and while they seemed really miserable, there was also something uplifting about what they did.

"Eventually, I began to write these epic songs that were more about feeling, with a lot of sonic elements. I’d always write two guitar parts that played against each other to build tension, with the drums pounding on toms to create a circular, tribal feeling. Sometimes it’s more important to me to make a sound than to write a pop song. " Asked if this is an aesthetic direction the band intends to explore further, Gnecco says: "We’ve never had a specific plan. It’s always been in the moment for us. The next record may be acoustic guitar, cellos and violins. Whatever we do, though, it will be based on honesty and emotions. " In that sense, Precious is indeed testimony from a band saying what it wants to say. It is honesty at its most brutal and beautiful.

It is …OURS.

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