2021 has been electrifying for this high energy funk band after their show-stealing performances at Garden City Magic, CubaDupa and Newtown Festival - the capital’s most exciting comeback of the year continues as OdESSA are set to release their first new single since 2009, ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ - available from October 1st on Bandcamp, Spotify and Soundcloud.
Reforming in 2020 after disbanding in 2009 after seven years and three albums (Oak Park Avenue (2005), The Prize (2007) and released the year after they split Bring Me The Head of Pepe Lopez (2010)), this new iteration of the band came as a surprise to the two remaining original band members, lyricist/vocalist Matthew Pender and bassist Paul Mouncey. As Mouncey explains: “Reformation became a possibility by Matt returning from overseas to get out of London in 2020, just two days before New Zealand went into full lockdown. I had a box of old OdESSA cassettes tapes - unfinished songs and music from over twelve years ago - and suddenly three months with nothing to do.”
Pender took a little more convincing. “It’s not that I wasn’t excited by the possibilities - I definitely was - but I hadn’t performed on stage in years. I had completely walked away from music six years earlier, for personal reasons, and I didn’t imagine I’d be in a band ever again.”
“Yes, through a series of subtle illusions and sleight of hand I managed to get Matthew Pender in a room with a microphone and the rest is - very recent - history,” laughs Mouncey.
Pender agrees: “I just knew when Paul played me the old tapes that there was something very special there. It all came back to me immediately...” He pauses on this for a moment before adding: “Unfinished songs never really leave you anyway. They haunt you like ghosts, often popping back up in your brain when you’re walking down the street or doing the laundry. When I heard those demos again on those dusty old tapes I felt massively excited. They were even better than I remembered.”
Originally a classic four-piece band, OdESSA’s new sound now has a strong ensemble feel.
“Our sound has changed completely. We have doubled in number, added a horn section and keyboards,” says Mouncey. “On our new single ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ we invited New York-based, Grammy-winning artist Mireya Ramos to sing on it. Our back catalogue was full of raw energy but we always knew we wanted to keep going further, adding new layers, seeing how far we could take the music. When we spoke of reforming it was something Pender and I really felt strongly about.”
Ramo’s involvement added to the serendipity of the situation. She and her band had been visiting New Zealand to perform at the WOMAD Festival when the 2020 lockdown happened shortly after. After quickly falling in love with her surroundings she stayed on for the next year and a half, joining not just OdESSA for their recording sessions and summer performing dates, but also collaborating with several other notable locals, including Troy Kingi.
“The inner workings of the band are slightly different too. We have some brand new members...some of them were still in nappies when we were in our pomp back in the 2000s. It's great to collaborate and get their fresh ideas in the music.”
“We’ve got a killer crew,” adds Pender. “We’re having a lot of fun. And this is only the start. It’s all about moving forwards.”
Crooning smooth, uplifting, funky and fun, ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ has been kicking around a long time and was a fan favourite as a live recording on their posthumous third album Bring Me The Head of Pepe Lopez - an album made up of demos, live recordings and unused rarities.
“This new version of ‘It's Gonna Get Better’ has received a total revamp. We’ve brought in the gang from Richter City Rebels to give it a bit of oomph in their own inimitable way and we’ve got the best in the business lending their immense skill to the track with Dr Lee Prebble engineering it at The Surgery and mastering by Mike Gibson from Munki Studios creating a polished sound without losing the on-stage energy OdESSA is renowned for.” says Mouncey.
While ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ has taken another meaning under the restrictions of a Covid-19 world where gigs are cancelled and major events are under stress, OdESSA are proud to release this track as an anthem of hope and love.
“I’m truly blown away by the response to our comeback shows,” says Pender, “Even after so long, it just feels like it’s exactly the right time to do it again. People never seem to forget how you made them feel. It feels better than I ever dreamed it would.”
‘It's Gonna Get Better’ is available 1 October 2021
OdESSA ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ Musicians
Matthew Pender – Vocals
Mireya Ramos – Vocals
Michael Taylor – Guitar + Trumpet
Ayrton Foote – Keyboards
Paul Mouncey – Bass
Thomas Friggens – Drums
The Richter City Rebels are: Daniel Hayles – Trombone & Hammond Organ, Ben Hunt – Trumpet, Chris Buckland – Tenor Saxophone and Michael Taylor – Guitar + Trumpet