Ohtis have announced the release of their new 7" single 'Runnin' due out 30th November 2018 via Full Time Hobby. The one-time pressing will be limited to 500 copies worldwide, stream and pre-order 'Runnin' HERE.
The beautifully dark country-Americana and lyrical onslaught of 'Runnin' is a fitting introduction to songwriter Sam Swinson's autobiographical journey through indoctrination and addiction; an endlessly inviting confession from his past battles with substance abuse, and the religious demons lingering from his upbringing in a fundamentalist evangelical cult.
Ohtis originally formed when Swinson and co-founder Adam Pressley were sophomores at high school in Normal, Illinois. They self-released their first material on small run CD-Rs while still teenagers, primarily to a local audience. Their partnership has defined Ohtis, accompanied by a revolving cast of local musicians joining the live act over the years, including re-joining mainstay member and multi-instrumentalist Nate Hahn.
By around 2009, Swinson's addiction had become life-threatening. Weighing the odds of maintaining a creative partnership in those conditions, Pressley and Hahn decided to distance themselves and the band dissolved. They kept in touch whilst living in different parts of the country, swapping ideas and songs online, never planning to release them, in equal parts because of their traumatic falling-out, and Sam's ongoing addiction to heroin.
Redemption eventually came in the form of sobriety for Swinson. After making 9th step amends to both of his re-joining bandmates, they brought Ohtis back to life; unfazed by the 2000 miles that now separate them geographically, with Pressley and Hahn in Detroit and Chicago and Swinson in Los Angeles.
The first verse of 'Runnin' was written for Adam by Sam while he was in rehab in 2011. It foreshadows a reunion of the band, and it signals a reincarnation of Sam. "Sam's beautiful encapsulation of recovery principles among the descriptions of his own struggle and redemption with sobriety in the song 'Runnin' was a major factor drawing me back to the band when they reformed," Nate explains. Swinson went to a self-made hell, and when he came out the other side he found a support group waiting for him, which had always been there, in Ohtis.
The new LP from Ohtis will follow in 2019.
'Runnin' synopsis from Sam Swinson:
This is a long story.
The first verse and the basis for the metaphor of the chorus is about an experience I had with Adam in Athens, Georgia during an Ohtis tour in 2008 or so. Adam was having a panic attack in the middle of the night while I was trying to sleep, and he woke me up asking me to go for a jog with him because he had heard exercise was helpful in combatting anxiety.
The song was conceived In 2011; I had moved into what I thought was a drug treatment facility in Springfield, Missouri, except it turned out to be more of what's called a "Home Plan" halfway house for guys coming out of prison. It was a rough crowd. Mostly meth manufacturing, but some of them were convicted sex offenders and this was the only place that would accept them. I was feeling out of place. Actually, what I was telling myself was that I was "better" than these prison-pervs and didn't really belong there. Eventually I got to know them and started identifying with them on another level. I realized that in spiritual terms I was no better or worse than any of them, or anyone else.
All that got me thinking about some of the friends I had devalued and fucked over in my drug days. Adam came to me for help in a moment of crisis in Athens, and, although we did go for a run around the block to help him calm down that night, I interpreted his anxiety attack as weakness, not a universal human experience. Being "reduced" to having to live in that halfway house gave me the humility to empathize with those prisoners, Adam, or whoever else, in order to love and support each other. It's a song about the power of "We" as opposed to "I".
Each verse is about a different friend or family member that I felt I had let down in the past. The Missouri verse is about a drunk driving accident I got me and my dog Bobo into where either one of us could have easily been killed or seriously hurt. The thought of "having to let him go" was horrifying, especially knowing it was my fault. It was miraculous that he survived unharmed, because he had also been hit by an SUV passing on the interstate immediately after the accident. I credit my life to this moment: sitting on a curb outside a truck stop in Las Cruces, New Mexico after retrieving Bobo from the animal shelter virtually unharmed, lost with no money, no where to go, wondering if I should beg for enough money to get me drunk, when suddenly an intense feeling of gratitude for Bobo's life came over me. So much so that I said "thank you" out loud to no one in particular, maybe to Bobo. And then I felt the same gratitude for my own life. That was a revelation to me, because up to then I had really been feeling like I wanted to die for a while.
The last verse is about overdosing on heroin in my parent's basement early one morning on a relapse. I'd gone to Rockford for a family picnic. I went out that night to drink and ended up buying crack and heroin from strangers. It was almost dawn by the time I got back to my parents house. I remember coming in wearing only my boxers because I had pissed myself earlier and taken my shorts off and thrown them a ditch somewhere forever. Camo shorts from dollar general actually. The zipper never worked on them, so my fly was always down, and I wore them a lot in those days. So I came in in my damp boxers, my mom was the only one awake, doing her early morning solitude thing that she does, and she saw me come in. I went down to the basement bathroom, shot up, overdosed and fell out hard on the floor unconscious. The next thing I heard was a very faint, indistinct, echoey reverby voice and I actually had the light at the end of the tunnel thing happen, where it started very small and got closer and the voice became two voices and got louder and louder, and then I heard them screaming my name pounding on the door. I had regained consciousness for a split second before I gasped for air and felt the pain in my head from not breathing for I don't know how long, and in my arm from having dead body weight on top of it. It specifically felt like I'd been dead for a while. The voices were my dad and my little nephew, who was only about four at the time. I quickly hid the syringe and spoon and convinced my dad I had just blacked out drunk. I spent the next hour or so sitting up on the couch in the basement, making myself breathe because I wasn't breathing involuntarily and thought I might not wake up again if I went back to sleep. The extent of my addict insanity is that I woke up some hours later, shot up some more of this laced Rockford heroin and drove back to Bloomington, nodding out and having to force myself to breathe the whole time. I'm not sure I would've woken back up if they hadn't somehow known to come bang on the door that early morning.
Runnin is an extension of the thank you I said that day in Las Cruces out loud to no one in particular, maybe to Bobo, maybe to that voice I heard calling me back from that overdose, maybe to my nephew and my dad and Adam and to all the voices calling me back up over the years.