Ozma is a rock band from Pasadena, California. The band's sound is a mix of new-wave–influenced power pop and Casiotone-driven melodies sustained by heavy guitar riffs. The complexity of Ozma's songs grew considerably during the band's initial nine-year history. After their split in 2004 they announced their reformation in early 2006.
Ozma was formed in 1995 by Ryen Slegr (vocals/guitar), Jose Galvez (guitar/vocals), Patrick Edwards (drums) and Daniel Brummel (vocals/bass), when Brummel was introduced to the others by Galvez, whom he had met on the internet while looking for a band to join. In 1996, the as-yet-unnamed band were joined by Katherine Bullard on keyboards, before deciding on the name "Ozma" (taken from the L. Frank Baum books) in 1997, and in 1998 were joined by Star Wick, who replaced the departing Kieckhefer. In early 1999, they released Songs of Inaudible Trucks and Cars, a collection of demos and live tracks, released on home-made CD-Rs and later republished in slightly different form as Songs of Audible Trucks and Cars by mp3.com. They then released what was considered their first "proper" album, Rock and Roll Part Three, on January 1 2000, with album art designed by "Gimetzco!". This consisted of "a few thousand" (estimated by Brummel) self-made pressings on their own Tornado Records label.
Ozma's first real break, however, came in 2001, when they were selected to tour with Weezer. In preparation for their spring tour, Weezer asked fans to vote for an opening act on their web site, and Ozma was selected along with the Kansas City-based Get Up Kids.
Early in 2001, the band also self-released The Doubble Donkey Disc (later reissued on Kung Fu Records). With this release, Ozma experimented with the traditional Russian balalaika and the flute to create a sound they called "Russian coldfusion". The disc was split into two imaginary "concept EPs": the first five songs (including the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki", more famously the Tetris theme) revolved around Russian themes, while the second half created a more "dance party" atmosphere.
Kung Fu years
Later in 2001, partly as a result of the exposure gained from touring with Weezer, Ozma signed with Kung Fu Records. Over the next two years, the label put out remastered and enhanced versions of Rock and Roll Part Three and The Doubble Donkey Disc, before Ozma's third album, Spending Time On The Borderline, was released in 2003. This record saw Ozma "mature" their sound and expand their musical outlook, moving away—at times significantly—from the keyboard-driven, often videogame-themed rock of the earlier albums. During this period of 2001-2004, Ozma toured the US numerous times, with such well-known acts as Nada Surf, Superdrag, Piebald, and Rilo Kiley.
On January 11th, 2002, Ozma—in its full and original form—played as the band “Trail Gate” at the No Future Cafe located in Pasadena, California. Ozma had recently returned from its tour with Weezer. They headlined the show with a full bill including Running Late, Up In Arms, and The Fresas.
This was the last Ozma performance at the No Future Cafe; however, Ozma's offshoots of musical acts have performed at the club since that date. These acts have included: Daniel Brummel, Yes Dear, and at No Future Cafe's Ten Year Anniversary show: a cover of "Battlescars" by local hardcore band CafFiends along with Jose Galvez and Ryen Slegr.
Ozma disbanded on July 23, 2004. In a message posted on the official Ozma website, Ryen Slegr cited deteriorating relationships between band members which affected the "creative and professional facets of the band to the extent that no one [felt] like continuing…"
Daniel Brummel moved to New York City to pursue a more folk-heavy style. His solo record, Speak Easy, was independently released in 2005. At the same time Ryen Slegr and Jose Galvez formed a new band called Yes Dear, with ex-members of Arlo and Teen Heroes. The majority of Yes Dear's recording projects were completed with Billy Burke at Loveless Motel Studio in Sierra Madre, CA, where Ozma eventually recorded their most recent release, Pasadena.
On December 3rd, 2005, the former members of Ozma, minus drummer Patrick Edwards, played the Troubadour in West Hollywood—billed as Irregardless (not Regardless)—opening for The Wrens. The short set included five songs from Ozma's albums as well as "D Song" (introduced as a "new one" but in fact a song from the Spending Time era that, although previously played live, had never been officially released). This sparked feverish rumours among Ozma's fanbase about a possible future reunion, particularly with the news that Brummel had moved back to Southern California.
In early 2006, Ozma announced that the band had reunited—again without Edwards—to play new shows, new songs, and put out new records. The absence of Edwards led many to believe he was partly responsible for the split, in addition to the on-stage quarrels between Edwards and Brummel. On January 9, 2006, the band posted the following message on their MySpace page :
WE: Star Wick, Ryen Slegr, Jose Galvez, and Daniel Brummel, do hereby declare our full and true intention to reform, reunite, and otherwise reanimate the rock group OZMA. Manning the drum kit for this incarnation of OZMA will be Kenn Shane, formerly of Addison. After rehearsing and working on new material since September 2005, we will play our first reunited concert on Sunday, March 12th 2006 at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, CA. Tickets to this concert will be made available on January 14th, 2006. Announcements regarding future OZMA releases and tours will henceforth be made at our official website OzmaOnline.com.
The band have since showcased some new songs at various shows, in addition to playing unreleased songs dating from after the release of Spending Time.... In September 2006, the band uploaded two demos of new songs they have recorded to their MySpace page. The songs, entitled Straight Flush and Barriers, were recorded over the summer of 2006 along with two other songs.
During July and August 2006 the band opened for The Rentals on the Return Tour, with Slegr filling in on guitar for them. During the tour, they rotated many new songs through their setlist. In September, the band announced that they would be touring the nation again in October, along with the band hellogoodbye.
On Valentines Day, 2007, the band announced via a MySpace posting that the newest album would be released on May 15, 2007 through About A Girl Records. On March 17, 2007, a new video was posted on YouTube and the first glimpse of the tracklisting for "Pasadena" was released. Information stayed spotty for about a month while various YouTube videos showcased the recording of the new album. On May 7, 2007, there was a leak on the album onto the internet. On May 11, 2007, Ozma made an agreement with MySpace and they streamed the whole album on Ozma's homepage.
The album photos and artwork were shot at the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena.
The album includes guest appearances by Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Will Noon (Straylight Run), Rachel Haden (The Rentals, that dog.), Ben Pringle (The Rentals, Nerf Herder), Eric Summer (Get Set Go), and Benjamin Chadwick (New Maximum Donkey).
Songs of Inaudible Trucks and Cars (1999)
Rock and Roll Part Three (2000, reissued 2001)
The Doubble Donkey Disc (2001, reissued 2002)
Spending Time on the Borderline (2003)
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