By Sophie Minello
After 12 months of writing and recording, Ottawa is back in the game. Consisting of Dale DeLong (Lead Vox), Tim Czajka (Guitar), Jeremy Barnes (Bass), and Will Hooper (Guitars & Backup Vocals), the native Cleveland band has been working hard in the creation and release of six new songs over the course of the summer. You can listen to “Strangers,” “The Good Kind,” “No More Love Songs,” and "Undercover" on their spotify, and excitedly await for the last two to be released in the near future. We were able to talk to Dale DeLong about the Cleveland music scene, Ottawa’s new releases, and their upcoming live show in promotion of these singles.
How would you describe the music scene in Cleveland? How has it influenced you as a band?
The music scene is strong, there are loads of great bands, musicians, and recording engineers. The scene hasn’t necessarily influenced our sound but we all learn from each other how to navigate booking shows, you see who’s doing things right and wrong and you try to learn things from the bands doing things right on how to grow in the scene and the music business.
What does your writing process look like? What inspires you?
Typically I’ll have a line or melody that won’t leave my head and pick up a guitar to see if I can bring it out any further before taking it to the guys to pounce on, or one of the guys will have a riff they can’t stop playing, show it to us, and we’ll play around with it. I’ll look in my phone and see if I have anything it works with, which I typically won’t, so we’ll build from the riff. Inspiration can come from anywhere… Songs to me are kind of a take on life in a melody, so chances are there’s something in my life creeping into every song. Another band being really great can inspire you too, no matter how different you may be. When I heard ‘Dreams Tonite’ by Alvvays, I was majorly inspired and jealous, but in a positive way.
You’re halfway through releasing your six new tracks. What made you decide to release them as 6 singles as opposed to an EP?
We believe in all of these songs, we don’t think there’s any filler in the batch, we wanted them each to have a chance at being something. There’s a couple we think have longer legs, but we love them all.
The music video for “No More Love Songs” just came out. What was the creation and process of making that video like?
I always wanted to shoot something at this place called The Nash in Slavic village, so we decided to do the performance bit there. Our friend Hanna Nawa and Bradley Atom the director came up with the story parts. Jeremy our bass player discovered Lydia Troy the lead actress and she seemed to be what we all had in mind for the part. Shooting videos is a ton of work from all the organizing to staying creative.
How do you think a live show elevates your music?
I think it’s the only way to really figure out how you feel about a band, if someone passively likes our songs but sees us live we want to ensure we’re their favorite band after. Live is everything.
What’s the most bizzare experience you’ve had at one of your concerts?
This was a few years ago, but we played two shows with like the same few bands, and there was this girl in the front row with her dad who must’ve been a fan of one of the other bands because she just stood there arms folded. The goal was to get her to smile by the end of our set. I don’t remember how it resolved and it was only bizarre because she was in the front row. I hope she’s doing well!
What are the pros and cons of being an unsigned band?
The major pro is we’ve been able to develop our band and sound into something we’re really proud of without the help of a label, so when we do get signed, it will be because of who we are and not what they can make us into. The con is we still have other jobs!
With these new releases and new shows, what are your hopes for the future of Ottawa?
We want it all. Tours, SNL, Glastonbury, everything you think of when you imagine what being in a real band would be like.