In the second edition of Masters of Sound, we interview Kid Millions, drummer for the repetition-loving experimental rock band Oneida. Besides his main gig, the Kid (real name: John Colpitts) shares his frenetic drumming skills with People Of The North (his side project with Oneida's keyboardist Fat Bobby Matador) and Man Forever, an avant-garde percussion ensemble led by himself and featuring drummers recruited locally before the gigs.In this interview, Colpitts reveals the truth behind the Oneida name, his early fondness for yacht rock and the second life of Brah Records.
Picture: crop from a photo by Erica Fletcher.
© Erica Fletcher, all rights reserved.
For starters, tell me about the name of the band: did you take it from the Indian tribe or the cutlery brand?
Neither...there was a utopian free love community based in Oneida NY in the late 1800s...that's how we got the name.
How did you get into music? Tell me about your key experiences with records.
I got into music via AM radio soft rock. Dan Fogelberg, Air Supply, Christopher Cross... those were the earliest and biggest impact. Then I was doing Music For Children by Karl Orff... After that it was The Who, The Police and top 40 radio. I didn't start playing drums until high school.
Do you consider yourself to be a record collector? If so, do you have a favorite format or is the music itself the only thing that matters?
I'm not sure I can call myself a record collector anymore but I have a decent collection. I used to be but I stopped doing that vigorously. I don't really care about the format but MP3s suck.
I know you're big fans of Britpop. Does this appreciation of melody and hooks translate in any way into the stuff you're doing, which apparently delves more in exploration, repetition and texture than big choruses?
Huh, well...sure, I love some Brit pop. Oasis, Supergrass, The La's... who knows how it translates into what we're doing now...probably not at all. Our song Turn It Up Loud is kind of our Brit Pop song.
Oneida has been pushing the boundaries with its latest records, a triple album followed by a drumless soundscape LP, not counting with your Man Forever project. Will the urge to explore ever wane? Have you discarded the "song" concept completely?
I would say the answer to both questions is "no".
How's the next album going to be like?
Maybe a combination of the two impulses.
You've got your own record label, Brah, which I understand being your own lingo for "bro". Was your main intention for the label to record your friends' bands?
Kind of...the label doesn't really exist anymore. Jagjaguwar gave us an amazing opportunity to release albums by anyone who we believed in... which was great for the music but terrible for sales. The name is still ours though and we have a cassette series on it now. We have a four tape box set for sale at our current shows.
If you could choose anyone, is there an artist you would like to welcome into the Oneida commune, to jam with and/or release something on Brah?
What kind of material do you most enjoy playing live? The more concise songs like All Arounder or Lavender, or half-hour freakouts like Folk Wisdom or Sheets of Easter?
I don't really differentiate between the songs... it's all of a piece.
You've been in Portugal before. Have you any recollections (the positive stuff at least) from the previous gigs here?
I loved the people, the food, the music and the beautiful cities... really looking forward to the return visit!
Check out Kid Millions with Oneida and People Of The North both live at Galeria Zé dos Bois next Sunday, March 29th at 10pm.