Ohio Knife doubles down in Dayton
By Justin Kreitzer
Emerging Cincinnati indie rock band Ohio Knife is led by vocalist/guitarist Jason Snell, drummer Joe Suer and keyboardist Andrew Higley – all formerly of indie favorites The Chocolate Horse and Readymaid – along with bassist Scotty Wood. Together they create a grease-smeared brand of blues-soaked garage rock with Snell’s soulful howl on their promising debut EP, Ohio Knife Is OK! released in early 2012 via Detroit-based Fountain Records. Since then, they have performed at such high-profile events as SXSW in Austin, Texas and, recently, the Bunbury Music Festival in their hometown, Cincinnati. The trio will bring their rumbling rock n’ roll show to Dayton twice in August, with a performance at Peach’s Grill in Yellow Springs Friday, Aug. 9 and Thursday, Aug. 15 at Canal Street Tavern in Dayton.
In anticipation of their upcoming shows, Snell and Suer were interviewed by the Dayton City Paper to shed some light into the band’s lofty future plans, their festival experiences and more.
The Chocolate Horse were the darlings of the Cincinnati scene but disappeared after three albums – when Higley moved to Nashville and played with Ben Folds and Brendan Benson – during which you formed Ohio Knife. What signaled the change in style and moniker?
The Chocolate Horse has never really broken up. [It’s] on a long vacation, as I really wanted something really simple, down, dirty and sweaty. I wrote 15 tunes pretty quick with Joe and Andrew as he was still living in Nashville. Our first show was a venture to SXSW, and from there, things have been erupting. Style-wise, it was time to pull back with all the colors and flavors … and it was time to really start [to] throw down some rock n’ roll. – Jason Snell
After recovering from my neck injury around 2011, I slowly started playing drums again on Jason’s heavier-sounding, guitar-based tunes and we came to the conclusion that these songs were super fun and needed an outlet. I think Jason found an article about a company called Ohio Knife that had recently closed down and we thought it was a cool sounding name for the “stab you in the gut” sounds we had just produced. – Joe Suer
You have played some of the big outdoor festivals like SXSW and recently, the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati. How was that experience and how did the crowd respond?
It’s been fantastic. If we could make a living playing festivals, I would! [The] crowds have been awesome, super-supportive and hopefully it only grows as we continue to rock. – J. Snell
We’ve had great audience feedback experiences at the festivals we’ve played and would like to play more festivals. It’s a great chance to play in front of brand new potential fans – open-minded music lovers that will take a chance on actually listening to new bands. Plus, we’ve met other great bands from around the world with whom we hope to work in the future … SXSW was Ohio Knife’s planned introduction to the world and unlike any other festival we’ve done. – J. Suer
Your debut EP has garnered great praise. Are you currently working on new material for a full-length album?
First off, thanks! We think it’s a great intro, alas, we have written many more songs since, and feel we’ve focused the sound and the direction. The new songs are just waiting for a good patron of rock n’ roll to help us deliver to the world. – J. Snell
Yes, we just finished mixing six demo tunes this past weekend. So far we are very happy with the results of this first batch and there are about six more tunes in various stages of recorded completion that we will continue to focus on now that we’ll have bassist Scotty Wood of Murder Junkies, and Andrew as part of the permanent live band. – J. Suer
Will you play any of those new songs during your shows in Dayton?
Totally, [the] last time we played Dayton, was [at] Canal Street. We were Ohio Knife, [but] playing under a different name, [as] sort of a surprise show with our friends Buffalo Killers. [I] cannot wait to get back up to my hometown. – J. Snell
Absolutely, “I Wish I Knew” is a great newer tune that we’ve been doing lately. It […] turns people’s heads our direction and gets us warmed up and feeling good. It’s been a while since we have played Dayton and this might actually be the first show billed as Ohio Knife. – J. Suer
What can we expect from your live show?
Loud, sweat, booze, beats and straight up ripping. – J. Snell
You can expect some down and dirty rock n’ roll music to be played. That’s for sure. – J. Suer
What does the future hold for Ohio Knife?
[To] continue playing, bring Andrew back into the fold and get someone interested enough to put out the first full-length. The coordinates have been set to rock, we’re working hard, trying to navigate it, paying dues and throwing down. Our time will come. – J. Snell
In the distant future, Ohio Knife will achieve total planetary media domination. It may seem a lofty goal to some folks, but we shoot for the stars. – J. Suer
Ohio Knife will play Friday, Aug. 9 at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs, and Thursday, Aug. 15 at Canal Street Tavern, 308 E. First St. For more information visit ohioknife.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.