Ovlov is a fun word to say. It reminds me of Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. It’s also Volvo spelled backwards. And most importantly, it’s a band from Connecticut that’s way more exciting than those other things. Ovlov are toying with the kind of sonic persona that defies a time period—’70s punk, ’80s hardcore, ’90s grunge—it’s all in there in a mangled, grimy speed-rock mass. The band, with a carousel of members, has been releasing music since 2008, but is set to drop its debut full-length, Am, July 2 via Exploding In Sound.
Their sound is like angry shoegaze: exhausted drums that can barely keep up with themselves and waves upon waves of reverb and dirty, drawling vocals. “Milk” begins without hesitation as fuzzy guitars create a path for frontman Steve Harlett to dive in, suddenly making the track both melodic and rough. The song is easy to like because it doesn’t try to disguise its catchiness, but it’s still raw enough to make you feel cool when you listen.
We talked to Steve Hartlett about Ovlov’s musical evolution, cars and what else he wanted to be when he grew up (watch out Jorge Posada). You can stream the premiere of “Milk” off Am, below.
What did you have in mind when you started this album?
To make a super green album that sounds as close to what we sound like live as possible.
To me, it seems like there’s been a pretty strong evolution from some of your earlier music, like Not The Same Without You to Am. How would you say your sound has changed over time?
Our first release (Crazy Motorcycle Jump) and the song Chicken Coop were written by Quentin Ham and I about 5 years ago. We were really into making good music to drive to. He rides motorcycles, so it added the edge to my mini-van cruises I can’t come up with on my own.
It’s just you and your two brothers in the band now, right?
We still don’t quite have a solid set member line up. Am is my brothers Jon and Theo and me as the band. Everyone in Grass Is Green but Jesse Weiss played on a few songs, and Sadie Dupuis sings on about half the album. We have a different line-up almost every show, depending on when and where it is and all that. Though my brothers and I do have a lot of deeper connections that help us to read what the other is thinking better than we may with one of our friends. We have a lot of the same friends as well and a lot of them play in Ovlov, so it helps us not get in as many brother fights as we may if it were just the three of us all the time.
Is “Milk” a euphemism for something?
I called the song “Milk” because there’s a line in the song that goes “Milk or wine for mine?”, and milk sort of represents the less appealing, but more beneficial choice when given two options in life. Both wine and milk are good for the body in separate areas, but too much of either is, of course, bad as well. It’s easier to choose wine because it’s seems like it has so much more to offer than milk does, but it has its clear consequences.
Who is Dini?
Alexander Dini Naldini is the reason Ovlov is a band all together. My brother Jon, Quentin and I really just wanted to see him as the lead singer of a band ‘cause he is like no one in the world and we want the people to see what he can do. So we wrote the first EP instrumentally at first with the intentions of him writing words to them all but he didn’t really get around to writing more than a sentence for a song after a few months, and naming the EP and all the songs. We unfortunately had to move on without him, but will hopefully figure everything out soon so that the people can learn about and love Dini.
You just played a few shoes with Anamanaguchi, right? How’d that go?
We actually went on tour with our best-band-friends-forever Grass Is Green. It was our first tour and it was one of the best times of my life. The most fun I had was the day and night we spent in Chesterton, Indiana hanging out with this dude Orion that opened the show we played there. He had some of the best stories I’ve ever heard and made us an awesome fire. The day before we left for the tour though, we played with Anamanaguchi in CT, which was really great of course.
You sent out a message to fans at the start of 2012 saying that you were going to start working under a new name. What changed?
Lots of things, mainly just thought I wanted to do something different, but quickly realized it was a dumb, stupid, dramatic decision.
Ovlov is in honor of your friend’s Volvo, right? Volvos have some really dedicated owners. I have a Volvo that’s an ’88. That’s old.
Yeah, Volvos rule for sure. I hope to own one myself one day. I hear they are the safest on the road. Dini had a Volvo he called Ovlov and thought it made a good band name.
Where do you see your next album going from here?
We will probably try to focus on a new color to help inspire new sounds. It’s impossible to really say at the moment.
What do you always wish people would ask you during interviews? And do you want to answer that now?
I’m not really sure. Maybe what I wanted to be when I grow up. I’ve always wanted to be a catcher for the New York Yankees but I fear it is too late for that now.