Meet OoB: DIY Creative Spirit

Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE

I’d like to introduce my band: it’s called OoB. It is short for “Opposite of Blink” which is what we are trying to achieve in our music.

But I’m not talking about OoB because we have something to sell you. We have no music products or framed autographed t-shirts, downloads, NFTs or posters. You can’t buy tickets to see us play and it’s doubtful we’ll ever perform somewhere you’d go anyway.

That’s right, we’re pretty reserved. But we play regularly because there is something much more basic than doing business with our art. We do it because we want it and we have to do it.

My bandmates are guys I’ve been playing with since 1996: Mark J. Rosoff and David Zekman. We were also playing a lot earlier, but in 1996 we decided to become a group called TVS and two finger.

The “TVS” is me, of course, and “two fingers” refers to the fact that Rosoff and Zekman were members of an experimental music group called Finger. When we got together, it was just the two of them.

I was a fan of wild “sound art” and the flow of finger consciousness, using alternative tools from pots and pans to amplified toys. And in their strange sound, I felt an opening for some words – not song lyrics, but poetry.

I remember our first session together, literally playing in Rosoff’s garage. I brought some poems and they played some sounds and we found a way to make the two work together.

The impetus to form a group was a new Fort Collins community festival that was coming at the time: First Night, a New Year’s art festival that utilized multiple downtown venues and hired local artists.

That first First Night was the start of a career that took TVS and two fingers across Colorado, Wyoming, and even some East Coast tours. We were “alternative” artists and played in many “alternative” situations, such as performing from the steps of the Great Dharmakaya Stupa as it was being built.

Much of our work, however, was done in schools. Not only did we perform, but we also ran workshops, encouraging children to write their own words. If they had no words, we encouraged them to play sound art and perform together for each other.

A good story to tell comes from one of our east coast tours. We were working at a downtown school in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a school that housed both a high school population and an elementary school group. We organized a seminar with a large group of high schoolers, encouraging them to write some spontaneous poems, choose tools and work together to create their own pieces.

The high schoolers seemed to find all of this rather amusing, until the auditorium filled with small children – and then they were there to perform their new pieces in “public”. They cut the bars and got to work and the whole concert was a smash hit.

This was not just an isolated experience, but something we have experienced over and over again in so many different schools. We had fun playing our stuff, of course, but seeing the kids open up was really special.

Throughout our 17 years together as TVS and two fingers, we also worked on an “alter ego” group that we called the Sound Art Orchestra. We included other musicians, we gave up on poetry and just played “music”.

TVS and Two Fingers 1998 (Photo by Jim Weis)

We’ve made it public a number of times, allowing audience members to join us in long otherworldly jams. Perhaps our most prestigious performance as SAO was a collaboration with Dance Express, composing and performing a live soundtrack for original dance pieces, culminating in two grand performances at CSU’s Lory Student Center Theater.

But in the end, especially when TVS and two fingers stopped working, we just got used to playing. We kept calling ourselves Sound Art Orchestra until one night, after listening to a recording of a particularly heartbreaking piece of work, I said, rather irreverently: “This is the opposite of blinking!” That comment produced a howl and became the name of our new group, “Opposite of Blink”.

Sound Art Orchestra 2012

What we are looking for is a sense of ecstasy: to be transported to another place and time by our sounds and the experience of playing. This happened several times while we were performing on stage, but not as much as now in our home studio. We play and play until we finally reach take-off and that in itself is something.

Over the years together, the only important thing we have maintained is a DIY creative spirit. We used that spirit to create our artistic niche that has taken us on the road for years and still keeps us in the studio.

The reason I raise all of this is to encourage other aspiring artists out there to get up off the couch and make some noise. You don’t have to be a professional to make it useful, you just have to have the desire to express yourself creatively.

OoB released his first song: “Meet OoB: Soundtracks for the 22nd Century ”- on YouTube last September. Currently, OoB has just released a new piece on YouTube titled “OoB: Playing With Fire (Still)” and the group has also provided the soundtrack for my March 2022 YouTube release, “Incredible Cranes Nomads on the Move”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG-tvuS7JTo

Listen to OoB if you get the chance. We may be able to release the rest of our recordings someday, but maybe not. We may be too busy playing.

Visit “Tim Van Schmidt’s Time Capsule” on YouTube.

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