Published Apr 22, 2014If it were up to Dean Tzenos, the latest album from his band Odonis Odonis would have come out two years ago. "It was the system, man," he says in explanation, before bursting out laughing.
The album, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled, was actually recorded in 2009, before the band's 2011 debut Hollandaze. Following a split from Toronto band Ten Kens, Tzenos lost his job as a computer animator, broke up with his girlfriend and lost his apartment. Rather than wallowing about, he spent much of 2009 funnelling his frustrations into music, penning several albums' worth of material.
His good friend Colin Stewart encouraged Tzenos to come out to Vancouver to record at the producer's studio, the Hive. "It ended up being perfect timing for me to go out there and completely focus on it." Stewart invited a number of his musical friends to help out, including New Pornographers' Kurt Dahle and Kathryn Calder, but "the bulk of the tracks were just me accented by everything else."
In contrast, the tracks on Hollandaze were left in their demo form. "I purposely made Hollandaze feel like a lo-fi debut so that this was going to follow-up right after, because I knew I had this properly recorded record. I can almost reverse engineer the story of the band, which goes hand in hand with everything in the project being ass backwards."
But then "the system" stepped in. UK indie FatCat released Hollandaze in fall 2011 and Hard Boiled Soft Boiled was supposed to follow the next year, but the label got cold feet. "They weren't ready to put it out," says Tzenos. Complicating matters, Odonis Odonis had evolved from Tzenos's solo project into a three-piece band and the group forged ahead, writing new music. (Last year's Better EP showcases the first fruits of the trio's labour together). "It halted the band's progress."
With the album finally seeing release via Buzz Records, the indie label Tzenos runs with Ian Chai, he's keen to shift Odonis Odonis into a new phase where the band aren't pigeonholed by any one genre. To illustrate his point, he split the new record into two distinct halves, the Hard Boiled side, featuring industrial rockers, and the Soft Boiled side, which favours the band's dream-pop leanings. "There were two sides to the project and this was a way to make it blatantly obvious," he says. "You shouldn't expect one thing."