New Jersey-based quintet, Owel (formerly known as Old Nick) are set to make their mark on 2013 with the release of their debut full-length on April 2nd. The self-titled album showcases the bands unique approach to instrumentation, which incorporates orchestral violins, cellos and glockenspiels, over traditional guitar, drums and bass, captivating the listener within a few notes.
On the upcoming release, guitar/vocalist, Jay Sakong, says, "Making this record was a strange combination of both liberating and confining. This being our first full-length record, it almost felt like the first day at a new school. We felt a great freedom to explore different sounds and songs however we saw fit. Without the concern of upholding any sort of previous reputation, we were truly free to express who we were in those moments. But at the same time, there was a bit of anxiety. After all, you only get one chance at a first impression. So although I enjoyed feeling unrestrained, I also wanted to make sure that everything was carefully crafted and thought out. Listening to it now, I would say (or at least hope) that it properly documents both our courageous explorations and our reserve.
Although Jay and drummer Ryan Vargas grew up in the same county of Middlesex, New Jersey, it wasn't until late 2010 that the two would collaborate musically. It didn't take long before the two realized that they were on the verge of creating something special. During this time, Jay was attending the Institute of Audio Research in New York, and met fellow student and guitarist Seamus O'Connor. Before even hearing him play, Jay suggested that Seamus join him and Ryan in their new musical venture. He explains, "Seamus and I would both take the same train into the city, and we would just talk about music the whole time. I knew, (or at least seriously hoped) that we both understood what we wanted to create."
After playing a few shows under the name Old Nick, they felt something was missing, not another guitar, but maybe something more organic. That's where violinist/keyboardist Jane Park would fit into the picture. A childhood friend of Jays, Jane noticed that Old Nick was playing a set at her local Brooklyn venue, and decided to stop by, after years of lost contact. Again, even before hearing her play, Jay knew that she was the missing piece of the puzzle. He says, She had just played a show herself, so she had this violin strapped to her back like a rifle.
The band released an EP in 2012, Ive Seen Colors, but shortly after, set out on a search for new bass player. Pat McGee would become the final member of the quintet, who then took on the new name Owel.