|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
A slippery band to define
By Neil Malhatra
As Oroboros prepares to make their first appearance in Canada, an excitement can be found in the air. "It just seems like the people that come to see us from Canada are totally rabid and into the music. We are extremely psyched about coming up," says Jim Miller, the band's principal songwriter and lead guitarist.
Oroboros is a jam band based out of Cleveland, Ohio and since starting in 1980 has seen many changes over the years. "The band has changed since the last recording," says Miller, the last original member of the group.
The group has worked hard to create a fan base through the grass-roots approach. "We've done everything self-produced. We do our own 10,000-person mailing list and we maintain our own Web site," explains Jim.
Along with their own hard work, Oroboros has seen the benefits of allowing its fans to record the performances and circulate them. "I love the taper people. It's something we have obviously borrowed from other bands, but it's a great concept."
Oroboros presently has five albums released independently. Unlike most bands that concentrate on studio releases, Oroboros has released three live albums and two studio projects. "Live albums are a lot less expensive to produce and since we have self-produced everything, it just makes sense," Miller says. The band does have plans to return back to the studio shortly with a stronger financial backing and hopes of getting a major label deal.
"In the music industry they want bands that are already signed," he continues. "It's hard to get opening spots because they want their up-and-comers to be promoted. I admire a band like Phish, who went about (getting signed) the same way we did."
Despite being on a minor label, Oroboros has graced both the H.O.R.D.E and Furthur festivals in Cleveland in the past as guests. In 1994, the band hosted a pre-H.O.R.D.E. party the night before the Cleveland gig.
"We happened to have a gig the night before and we called all the members of the H.O.R.D.E. tour, not expecting them to show up but low and behold, they all showed up," recollects Miller. "John Popper [of Blues Traveller] jammed with us and we jammed with his band and there were these mega jams all night long. Then the Allman Brother showed up and a dream came true for me I got to play with them!"
Like all other bands that fit in the "jam scene," it is tough to pigeon-hole Oroboros' music. "I really can't describe it, being in the eye of the hurricane. It obviously has a really good dance groove and it cuts across a lot of different areas of music," Miller says.
Despite the variety in musical styles, the band feels a unique mood is created. "Our show is potpourri of music, but it's like the band's name. The oroboros is a symbol for continuity and change. In our live shows, there is a continual thread that runs through the music and I can't point it out; I call it soul. The music constantly changes."
Oroboros is making their first trip to Canada this weekend and will return in the spring to Montréal and Toronto. They can be found today at the Parkview Tavern in Chatham and tomorrow night at Call the Office.