Thirty minutes into a conversation with Jason “Ginchy” Kottwitz, guitarist and main songwriter for Austin gunk punks The Oxys, the talk turns to professional wrestling. It’s not an uncommon occurrence when scribing for a site that bears the namesake of one of the most recognizable wrestlers on the planet. And while the topic at hand is the squared circle, Kottwitz throws out a request that’s more of the Rock ’n’ Wrestling Connection variety.
“If ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart is reading this, I would love to get together and collaborate on a tune with him … It would make my year,” Kottwitz said. While The Oxys are a lot more akin to The Replacements, The Damned, Black Haloes and Didjits than (Hart’s ’60s band) The Gentrys, it’s all about musical hooks, and The Oxys have them in spades.
The band recently released their second full-length effort, “Generation Irrelevant,” a 10-song slab of high energy, punk-influenced rock ’n’ roll.
“I’m forever stuck in ’70s music,” Kottwitz said. “There’s a front to back aspect of ’70s records that you don’t get in modern music anymore. We live in a world of singles now. But if you go and buy those records that have those singles on them, there’s so much filler crap on there it’s unbelievable.”
When it comes to tunes, Kottwitz is aiming for the AC/DC approach. “It’s like ‘Highway to Hell,’” he said. “Is there a bad song on that record? No, there’s not. That’s what I’m going for.”
Prior to forming The Oxys (comprised of Kottwitz, vocalist “PunkrockPhil” Davis, drummer Rob Williamson, guitarist Genocide and bassist Gabriel Von Asher), Kottwitz moonlighted the lower 48 and in Europe as guitarist/band manager for punk rock legends Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys and the late Sylvain Sylvain of The New York Dolls. Back when I first knew him, he offered my then-band Hellvis “any drug we wanted” when we played his hometown bar in southern Illinois. “Ginchy” is good people.
The Oxys are planning a New York trip in December and one across the pond to Spain and Portugal in January. Kottwitz is already tracking the band’s third record, writing for the fourth, and he took a break from composing what seems like an endless supply of rock tunes for this Web Is Jericho exclusive.
How did writing and recording “Generation Irrelevant” compare to The Oxys’ debut? “They’re a little different. The first one is much more of a proto-punk type sound. The second one is a little more pissed off. A little faster and more aggressive.”
Did you have a specific style in mind when you formed The Oxys? “I didn’t really have a specific style in mind. The first album, when I met Phil, I probably had 150-160 songs demoed. And we just used a couple of those to get going. It’s just the style I write. Someone said in a review of ours, ‘There’s also technical guitar solos on this.’ I’m like, I’m playing Chuck Berry and Johnny Thunders licks. Johnny Thunders had three licks and made a career out of it. I don’t feel like I’m bringing a ton to the table from a guitar standpoint. It’s pretty simple rock ’n’ roll stuff. I’m just paying particularly close attention to playing within the confines of the song.”
When it comes time to decide on what material you’re going to use, how do you pair down that many songs? “I didn’t use those same songs for the second record. I started a new batch of songs. But when we went to do the second record, if I’m like, ‘Man I really need an opener for this album or need a song for a certain slot on the album,’ I’ll go back and see if there’s a song that might work. But generally I’m writing new material and moving forward. For the second album we demoed 50 or 60 songs. So when I write songs, I send them to Phil, and he’ll just sit on them. Then he’ll go through and pick the ones he likes to write lyrics and words to. So he’s helping me narrow that pool of songs down depending on what he likes. And he’ll send a lot of ideas back to me. We probably have more unreleased songs that I’ve sh*t-canned that actual songs we’ve put on records. Eventually we get to a point where we both like it, and we try to have enough finished songs for the record.”
It seems like writing comes in bunches for you. “I play guitar all the time. A lot of my friends who play guitar spend time learning other people’s material and copying licks. I don’t do that very often. When I’m sitting down and playing, I’m just hashing out new ideas and playing stuff. But I was listening to Ted Nugent’s ‘Weekend Warriors’ album a couple weeks ago, and I copied a couple of his licks that stuck with me. I did a reel the other day for our other guitar player. And she’s like, ‘Why don’t you explain this guitar solo in this reel?’ So I did the solo, and I was thinking, ‘Oh God, everybody’s gonna know I just ripped off Ace Frehley’s ‘Love Gun’ outro solo, so I just came out with it and said it (laughs).”
Did you do a lot of writing when you worked with Cheetah Chrome and Sylvain Sylvain? “I recorded a couple songs with Cheetah. Some of the material, he encouraged writing. Whether he liked my stuff or not I’ll probably never know. We recorded some tracks that I still have for his solo band. With Sylvain, there’s a song on our first album called ‘Machine Gun,’ and he wrote the riff of the song when he came to my house and we used to jam all the time. He never had words for it, but I ended up taking that idea and using it on the first record. He had passed away by that point. We also had some little things we would jam in the live show. With Sylvain’s live show, we would play a verse and a chorus and a verse and a chorus, and then Sylvain would want to jam. We had to be on our feet in that band, because we never knew what he would want to do.”
What are the biggest takeaways you have from playing with those two? “Those guys are prolific individuals. Both those guys have a very natural thing they do. I don’t know if you can learn that or be taught that. They’re both very gifted. What I learned overall is just be yourself and do your thing. Those guys weren’t mimicking anyone. They really developed into their own characters and did their own thing. They didn’t give a f*ck what the press said or what anyone was whispering in their ear. They did their thing with super intensity and they were honed in.”
What are some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played or been a part of over the years? “There’s been so many awesome gigs, and a lot of people would think that some of the bigger gigs would be my favorites. Like, ‘Oh you opened for this huge act.’ The most memorable ones are some of the weirdest gigs I’ve played. We played in a city called Atascadero, California, which is like a mountain town. And I go to the show, and the tallest person I’ve ever seen in my life is at the show. But at the same time, the shortest person I ever saw in my life was also at that show. I remember photographing two of them side by side with the Dead Boys’ singer at the time. It was a small town bar that wasn’t really meant to have big acts play, and the guy from L.A. Guns, Mick Cripps, his latest band opened up for us. The singer of UFO’s kid, Nigel, he was the singer for that band. The show was awesome, and those people went apesh*t crazy. It was a wild gig. The owner of the bar before it started was walking around telling everyone before the show, ‘No moshing, someone’s gonna get hurt.’ Well the show started and it was going crazy, and she went out there trying to break people up, and she actually ended up getting hurt. I remember one of our guys got injured earlier in the tour, and we had crutches in our van. We were like, ‘Why are we traveling around with these crutches?’ And we ended up giving them to her! Just weird sh*t like that, those shows are always really memorable to me.”
What does the next year look like for The Oxys? “As much as I would love to get in a van and play a lot of shows, it’s not as economically viable as it was when I was playing with Hellvis in the early 2000s. Back then, we could rent a van for $80, $90. It was $1.25 for a gallon of gas, and we’d hoof it all over the country and crash on people’s couches. Now, if you want to rent a van, you’re gonna be paying $200, $250 a day, and $3.50 for a gallon of gas. And the pay is not that much different than it was back then. So it’s really tough to do that. We are gonna be out in New York in December. We’re gonna be going to Spain and Portugal in January. We just started tracking the 3rd record. I’ve written a good portion of the fourth record. Will we get to the fourth record? I don’t know. I hope so, but it’s not gonna prevent me from writing new material.”
And you’re an old-school wrestling fan, too? “I play the PS5 wrestling game with my kid. I made him get enough points on it to download all the throwback wrestlers. He’s 11, but I love talking to him about Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and I’m like, ‘You gotta go on YouTube and watch the Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant Silverdome match. I’m always turning my kid on to the old wrestling stuff.”
For more information, visit TheOxys.com.
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