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Oxygen Thief Reflect on Ten Years in In-Depth Interview

1. Can you tell us more about the decision to release the instrumental versions of 'Accidents Do Not Happen, They Are Caused' on its 10th anniversary? What prompted this idea, and how do you believe these versions offer a new dimension to the original recordings?

I wanted to do something fun and simple to mark the occasion, so once I found the instrumental files they seemed the perfect companion to the original mini-album. Hopefully hearing these versions will give people a fresh appreciation of the original recordings, and give them an excuse to go back and listen to them again to hear how different the experiences are.


2. How did the process of rediscovering the instrumental recordings unfold, and were there any specific moments or aspects of the songs that stood out to you in this new light?


I wish I had a more exciting story, but I was just sorting out the sprawling chaos of music-related files on my computer and I stumbled across them! As these were my first full-band recordings, it felt like being zapped back in time to the practice/studio space as we were finding our feet as a three-piece. It really reminded me of the effort we put into crafting the band sound, and how I wrote the core riffs to be something worth listening to in their own right...not just a backdrop for the vocals.


3. The album's tracklist features subtly altered titles for each instrumental track. What was the inspiration behind these changes, and how do they contribute to the overall experience of 'Instrumentals Do Not Happen, They Are Caused'?

Another slightly boring answer I'm afraid - it's mainly so you can tell the difference in a playlist on streaming/when people download the mp3s from Bandcamp. Ha. I did think it would be more interesting than just calling them "Original Song Title (Instrumental)" though, hopefully it adds something to the experience.


4. Having previously made instrumental versions of your own songs, what do you find most compelling about presenting music in this stripped-down form? Do you think it provides listeners with a different appreciation for the musicianship involved?

The songs are pretty fast and I always cram a lot of lyrics in, so some of the more intricate riffs/drum fills end up being overshadowed by the vocals. Stripping the singing away really gives those details a chance to be heard, so I hope people will notice things they never realised were there when listening to the original versions. I always enjoy listening to Ben and Neil's parts as it makes me feel like less of a narcissist, but there's definitely a few guitar parts that I'm really proud of and glad will be heard a little more prominently now.


5. Over the years, you've transitioned from a solo effort to a full band. How has this evolution influenced your approach to music, and do you see a significant impact on how the instrumental versions of your songs are perceived compared to the original full-band recordings?

Even though I've moved between playing/recording solo and full-band, I've continued writing everything on an acoustic guitar. It's partly because I want to be able to play the songs solo as well, but also because it stops me from ending up in full Machine Head rip-off territory. When I try to write riffs on an electric guitar they're always super fun to play but rarely feel like it'd be fun to listen to. Playing with a band has definitely made me a much better, more consistent guitarist too - I used to find recording fairly hard work and need a million takes to get it right, now I'm much more relaxed and confident in that setting.


6. With a career spanning several albums and collaborations with notable artists, how do you see 'Instrumentals Do Not Happen, They Are Caused' fitting into the broader narrative of your musical journey? Does it represent a specific moment of reflection or exploration within your discography?

As this lineup of the band parted ways just before Covid (all amicable stuff - the guys have a thriving studio business at The Old Blacksmiths near Portsmouth so couldn’t dedicate as much time to the band as they wanted to), listening back to how things started has really made me super excited as I work on the next album.


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