Catch up with singer-songwriter duo Oh, Jeremiah (Jeremiah Stricklin and Erin Raber) and watch the video for the husband and wife duo's single, "Happy Now", off their upcoming album, The Other End Of Passing Time, to be released August 19th.
What brought you two together?
Jeremiah: I've been in bands my whole life. My first band I was in was a glorified Blink-182 cover band and I had the tube socks and the hat turned sideways type thing and then every band I've ever been in broke up and I decided to go solo, which is why it's called 'Oh, Jeremiah', and then I met Erin via a mutual friend and he just said, 'hey, there's this girl who plays violin, she might be interested in backing you up,' and he did not tell me that she had this amazing voice and I don't think that Erin even knew that she had this amazing voice. So, I got her on, we started playing a couple of songs together, it was going really, really well and, obviously, there's the risk of attraction whenever that sort of thing happens, and so we sort of started dating and playing at the same time and then I got the West Nile Virus and Erin kept me from dying - which was one of my favorite things that she's done, as a whole - and we've been together ever since. When I met her I weighed 165 pounds and by the end of West Nile I weighed 143 which was crazy, I don't think I've ever weighed that much; I think I was born weighing 150 pounds, so there was no middle ground. It was the wildest thing.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
I wrote "Happy Now" almost immediately. "Happy Now" is the song that we're probably the most known for and I wrote that really early on. We did a demo of all the songs we had and that was the first song that I remember knowing all the way through [laughs] and so that song was right off the bat there. We did a lot of covers and stuff, but that was the first song I remember really writing. There was another song called "Better Man" that was early on in our career too, but I think "Happy Now" was the first one.
Which musicians would say you've been influenced by?
My biggest celebrity crush is a guy named Josh Ritter. He's an Idaho singer-songwriter and he writes about mummies and about these elaborate stories - he's got a song his new album where it's this guy battling alcoholism - but it's all amazing. He is such a great storyteller and he is my Bruce Springsteen, so he is one. Colin Meloy, the lead singer of The Decemberists, is one of my heroes, so that would be one for sure. And, I like any songwriter that would rather tell really weird stories than anything else, like, I do, I love Bruce Springsteen, I love Gregory Alan Isakov; I love people that just want to tell stories.
Which words would you use to describe your own sound?
I tell people that it's like Simon & Garfunkel with the sad parts of Damien Rice mixed in with the haircuts of R.E.M., because I'm bald [laughs]. That's usually the kind of the compass I give to people in regards to what we sound like. But, there's a lot of influences; obviously, Josh Ritter has influenced us and Erin is a violinist that sings a lot, like Norah Jones, so there's even influences of that, but we try to be as Simon & Garfunkel-y as we can.
What were your inspirations behind your single and video for "Happy Now"?
So, "Happy Now" is actually the most relatable song, but the least relatable topic. I wrote that song thinking, 'no one's ever going to listen to this,' because it was about my high school sweetheart moving to Utah and marrying someone else and I thought, 'no one's ever going to relate to that because no one knows anyone in Utah,' or whatever but it just came out like this anthemic break-up song and people just resonated with it really, really well.
The video though, I have a very strange sense of humor and whenever I talked to the film crew, they wanted to do the video that everyone expected me to make: they wanted it to be like, I'm chasing a girl and I'm playing with a band on a rooftop and it's like 'that' music video. And I thought it would be funny just to be a clown at a kid's birthday party and there was like the awkward silence on the phone [laughs], where they were like, 'oh, he's kidding..?' and then when they realized I wasn't kidding, we all sort of just really fell in love with the idea. I'm at that age where all my friends are starting to have kids and my favorite kid is this kid named Noah and he was having a birthday party and I just asked if we could bring a bunch of cameras to his birthday party and [laughs] let a clown come in and make a video at this birthday party and my favorite moment of that whole shoot is - I didn't realize that people were actually scared of clowns, I thought that that was a joke, but those kids were not happy to see me, they were terrified to see me - there was one kid in particular, they were all playing video games whenever I walked in and it was like ten little kids playing a Playstation or whatever, and one kid stands up and declares to the rest of the group, 'hey everybody, that clown came to hurt us,' and that's my favorite moment of the entire video shoot.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming album, The Other End Of Passing Time?
My hero in regards to producing is actually Josh Ritter's piano player. His name's Sam Kassirer and he's made just so many of my favorite records; he's responsible for my favorite Josh Ritter albums and he's responsible for Lake Street Dive's first album and he's just a really amazing producer. We got connected with him and we went up to Parsonsfield, Maine to record in his farmhouse and it was March and I don't know if you've ever been to Maine, but they actually have Winter there and Winter is an awful thing that I've never seen before. It was in March but there was still so much snow on the ground that my iPod would freeze whenever I would go running, it was that cold. So, it was a very new and culture shocking experience to have to live with these strangers in a farmhouse for two weeks to make an album, but it was so rewarding at the end of it. Like, we lived two people to a room and we all had these bunk beds and the farmhouse had those old heaters that creaked and moaned throughout the house; it was a very surreal experience and it was the favorite musical experience I've had in my entire life.
How would you sum up that album in one sentence?
The Other End Of Passing Time is inspired by, in dedication to, and in remembrance of the loneliest year of my life.
Which is the year after college. No one ever told me that that year was going to be so terrible, because you go from having to ask for permission to go to the bathroom to knowing how to do your taxes and, hey, here's all your debt waiting on you, and that's where all these songs were inspired from and The Other End Of Passing Time has been able to look back, after all of that's said and done, and just seeing it for what it was, which was just a really crappy year. Instead of thinking everything was terrible, it was just a bad year.
Do you have a favorite song from that album you're most excited for your fans to hear?
Yeah! So, first, a little back story on me: I started losing my hair whenever I was 16 and I was really insecure about it so, instead of trying to hide it with Rogaine or whatever, I just shaved it all off and I embraced it and whenever I started losing my sight and I needed glasses, I just got the biggest glasses I could find because I was insecure about it and I have this weird thing where I think if you just answer to your insecurities, they go away. The one song I was really insecure on the album ended up being the first song on the album because it helps me embrace the weird stuff that I'm into and the first song is this song called "Dinner Conversations" and it's the story of the main character having a dinner party with God and the devil and that idea was just really hilarious to me. It's the God and devil coming over and talking about music and how that conversation would go and that's what the song's about.
What do you hope that listeners are able to take away from your music?
I just hope that people get an honest representation of what we're trying to do. I've never been the kind of guy to sell myself short just to get a song in a commercial or get ahead, like, this is the most honest thing I've ever done, is this record. I meant every word on it and I worked really hard to show who I was and I think the best compliment you can give the album is that it's a very true representation of who we are as people, which is something that a lot of people try to hide behind; especially now, where you only show the best parts of your life on social media, you only want people to see when you do something awesome. I like the bad stuff too and I think there are a lot of moments that are very vulnerable and weird on this album that I'm really, really proud of.
Oh, Jeremiah Tour Dates:
8/05/16 – Dalonega, GA – Crimson Moon
8/10/16 – Laurel, MS – Slow Boat Brewery
8/11/16 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa
8/12/16 – Dallas, TX – Opening Bell
8/13/16 – Austin, TX @ Stay Gold
8/16/16 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Café (Stage 2)
8/17/16 – San Francisco, CA – Doc’s Lab
8/18/16 – Portland, OR – White Eagle Saloon
8/19/16 – Salem, OR – Gov Cup
8/22/16 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court (w/ Matthew and The Hope, Andrew Wiscombe)
8/23/16 – Denver, CO – Lost Lake
8/26/16 – Jackson, MS – Duling Hall
8/27/16 – Hattiesburg, MS – Thirsty Hippo
9/03/16 – Florence, AL – 116 E Mobile