Interview: Bill Doss from The Olivia Tremor Control

When the Olivia Tremor Control released their debut album, Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle in 1996, it was not obvious the type of critical success the album would garner. The album received acclaim from such sources as AllMusic and Pitchfork Media. Fifteen years after its initial release, the album is being reissued along with the band’s second album, Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. I was able to ask a few questions to Bill Doss, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist of The Olivia Tremor Control. We discussed the recording and the re-release Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle as well as future plans for the band.

You are reissuing Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle. The album is considered by many to be your masterwork. Do you feel it is your best album?
I am particularly proud of Dusk because it was our first album. We had actually got to the point of making the album we had dreamt of for years. It was a very exciting time. As for whether it’s our best, well I suppose that’s not up to me to say, is it?

What are your fondest memories from recording Unrealized Film Script?
Will and I had to get to Denver to record with Robert Schneider and we did so by “drive away” which is when someone needs a car to go from point A to point B and you volunteer to drive the car. I was a big family car, a Ford Granada or something like that. On our way from Athens to Denver, we swung thru Austin, TX and picked up Eric Harris. We turned making an album into a road trip. It was great!

I assume you re-listened to the album before reissuing it. Was there anything new you noticed while re-listening?
I noticed that it wasn’t nearly as dense as I remember. In fact, it’s pretty sparse especially compared to where we went with Black Foliage. My friend Kevin once said to me “I was listening to Dusk today. Man, you guys didn’t bother tuning any of the instruments, did you?” Upon re-listening, another thing I noticed was that he was right!

Do you have a favorite song from Unrealized Film Script?
That’s like having a favorite child. You have one, and they know who they are, but you’ll never say.

You are also reissuing your sophomore album, Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. Did you feel any added pressure to not hit a sophomore slump when recording it?
We never looked at it that way. It was, and still is, all about the joy of making music with your friends.

How was the recording process different for Black Foliage?
Dusk was a recording project with little thought going into playing the music live. Once we had started on Black Foliage, we had toured extensively, and were able to interject a live band feel into the mix. Plus we had moved from 4-track to 4 and 8 tracks.

You have shows booked through the end of the year. What comes next for OTC? Any chance of new recordings?
We have been working on new recordings for some time now. In fact, we have a new release, in three parts, that’s coming out as the tour begins next week. With any luck, we’ll have a new album, which is well under way, out sometime next year.