Though Odd Years officially formed as a band only three or four years ago, the band members have a deep and interconnected history.
“I have a really funny picture you should see,” Thomas Hammerton, the band’s keys player and vocalist says, when asked about the band’s origin story. He brings up a photo taken years ago, featuring himself, AJ Johnson, Dustin Seabrook and Matt Monoogian playing a Halloween show.
“We’ve known each other for a lot of years. Probably like 20 years for most of us,” Johnson says. “Started playing music in high school and after high school people kind of went their separate ways and the last two or three years maybe, we just started playing again and Odd Years was formed.”
And go their separate ways they did, at least for a while. A whole variety of projects sprung up from each individual member, the main ones of which are Cuff the Duke, Minotaurs and Lowlands. Monoogian plays with Alanna Gurr and Lowlands, Hammerton and Johnson both play in Cuff the Duke and Minotaurs, and JJ Ipsen has his band the Paper Crowns in addition to his work with Odd Years.
If that above paragraph was a lot to take in, it’s a testament to how deeply interwoven Guelph’s music scene is.
“That’s one of the best parts about Guelph, though, that really supportive, close-knit community, something I haven’t been able to find anywhere else for sure,” Hammerton says. “Not to that level anyway.”
With all of these other band commitments, though, one might wonder how Odd Years can exist and not be thrown on the back burner.
“Google Calendar,” Johnson says and then laughs. “It definitely takes a lot of planning, so you definitely have to have your schedule in order. ” He and Hammerton’s involvement with Cuff the Duke has actually worked to their advantage—they’ll be going on a tour with Cuff the Duke in October.
Being in many bands has other benefits, though. “All the different bands that we’re involved with, they all inform Odd Years’ sound too,” Hammerton says. “Lowlands, for instance, kind of has a country influence, and Matt plays pedal steel. You can hear it in one song on the album. We all get different experiences from Cuff and Minotaurs and they all inform what we play and how we play them.”
Odd Years released their debut full-length Drawing Lines in late July, perhaps a bit later than they had intended when they set out recording it two years ago at the House of Miracles with Andrew Magoffin.
“We’ve known Andy for years, he’s a good friend and there’s a really good vibe in there. Really good at what he does,” Johnson says.
The band recorded about half of the album, but then waited almost a year before continuing. When they returned to finish off the album, they had penned some new songs. Some of the tracks on that album have been around longer than the band has officially been around, specifically the song “Patient,” which also happened to be the last song they recorded.
“Most of [the songs] came out of having a specific group to write for, but there were two or three that had been floating around in years past,” Hammerton says. “Because we’ve known each other for so long in different incarnations and stuff, it seemed like a really nice fit.”
All the band really wants to do now is, as they put it, properly release the album.
“We just want to properly release the album and get people to hear it, play a bunch of shows, as much as we can,” Johnson says. “We already have some new stuff for a new record, so [we want to] go back into the studio and try not to make it two years between the next release. Just kind of keep the momentum up.”