Meet OoB: DIY Creative Spirit

OoB 2022

Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE

 

I’d like to introduce my band — its name is OoB. That’s short for “Opposite of Blink” which is what we’re trying to achieve in our music.

But I’m not telling you about OoB because we’ve got something to sell you. We don’t have music products or t-shirts, downloads, NFTs, or framed autographed posters. You can’t buy tickets to see us play and it’s doubtful we’ll ever perform in a place you’d be going to anyway.

That’s right, we’re pretty private. But we play on a regular basis because there’s something about it that is way more basic than making a business out of our art. We do it because we want to — and have to.

My bandmates are guys I have been playing with since 1996 — Mark J. Rosoff and David Zekman. We were even jamming long before that, but in 1996, we decided to become a performing group called TVS and two fingers.

The “TVS” is me, of course, and “two fingers” refers to the fact that Rosoff and Zekman were members of an experimental music group called fingers. By the time we joined together, there were just the two of them.

I was a fan of fingers’ wild, stream-of-consciousness “sound art”, using alternative instruments from pots and pans to amplified toys. And in their strange sound, I heard an opening for some words — not song lyrics, but poetry.

I remember our first session together — literally playing in Rosoff’s single car garage. I brought some poems and they played some sounds and we found a way for the two to work together.

The impetus to form a group was a new Fort Collins community festival that was coming up at the time — First Night, a New Year’s Eve arts festival that used multiple downtown venues and hired local artists.

That first First Night was the beginning of a career that took TVS and two fingers all over Colorado, Wyoming, and even on some tours on the East Coast. We were “alternative” performers and we played in a lot of “alternative” situations — like performing from the steps of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya as it was being built.

A lot of our work, though, was done in schools. We not only performed but also did workshops, encouraging kids to write their own words. If they didn’t have any words, then we encouraged them to play sound art — and perform together for each other.

One good story to tell about that comes from one of our East Coast tours. We were working in an inner-city school in Bridgeport, Connecticut — a school that housed both a high school population and an elementary school group. We did a workshop with a large group of high schoolers, encouraging them to write some spontaneous poetry, pick instruments and work together to create their own pieces.

The high schoolers seemed to find this all pretty funny, until the auditorium filled with little kids — and then they were on the spot to perform their new pieces in “public”. They cut the jokes and got to work and the entire concert was a roaring success.

This wasn’t just an isolated experience, but something we experienced over and over again in so many different schools. We enjoyed playing our own stuff, of course, but seeing kids open up was special indeed.

All throughout our 17 years together as TVS and two fingers, we had also been working on an “alter ego” group we called the Sound Art Orchestra. We included other musicians, dispensed with the poetry, and just played “music”.

TVS and two fingers 1998 (Photo by Jim Weis)

We took this out into public a number of times, allowing audience members to join us in long, otherworldly jams.  Perhaps our most prestigious performance as SAO was a collaboration with Dance Express – composing and performing a live soundtrack for original dance pieces, culminating in two grand performances at the Lory Student Center Theater at CSU.

But finally, especially once TVS and two fingers stopped performing, we just settled in to play. We kept calling ourselves the Sound Art Orchestra until one night, after listening to the recording of one especially harrowing piece of work, I said, quite flippantly, “That’s the opposite of blinking!” That comment produced a howl and became our new band name, “Opposite of Blink”.

Sound Art Orchestra 2012

What we’re after is a sense of ecstasy — to be transported to another place and time by our sounds and the experience of playing. This happened quite a few times when we were performing on stage, but not nearly as much as it does now in our home studio. We play and play until we finally achieve lift-off and that in itself is something.

Over the years together, the one important thing we have maintained is a do-it-yourself creative spirit. We used that spirit to create our own artistic niche that took us on the road for years and it still keeps us in the studio.

The reason I bring all this up is to encourage other would-be artists out there to get off the couch and make some noise. You don’t have to be a professional to make it worthwhile — you just have to have the desire to express yourself creatively.

OoB released its first piece of music – “Meet OoB: Soundtracks for the 22nd Century” — on YouTube last September. Currently, OoB has just released a brand new piece on YouTube titled “OoB: Playing With Fire (Still)” and the group also provided the soundtrack for my March 2022 YouTube release, “Incredible Cranes Nomads on the Move”.

Listen to OoB if you get a chance. We may get around to releasing the rest of our recordings someday — but maybe not. We may be too busy playing.

Visit “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.

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