Odonis Odonis mastermind Dean Tzenos crafted his fiercely guttural surfgaze debut Hollandaze out of the fine comfort of his home. A home he then had to give up for the music – talk about discomfort. We called Dean on an early Monday morning while he was getting ready for SXSW. We talked about feeling awkward, Adonis belts and comforting Hollandaise sauce. ‘I drown my food in that shit!’
Interview by Brenda Bosma. Photos by Dimitri Karakostas
If we would embark on the uncomfortable road: don’t you think a mish mash of surf, punk and shoegaze is a bit too 2011?
No, not really. I can be very short about that.
Judging by your energetic songs, in which to me it seems you’re fighting a big wave while surfing with a flying V around your neck, I can imagine you have very little issues with feeling uncomfortable onstage. How is that in your daily life?
I definitely feel you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone every once and a while, especially if you want to try anything different. I don’t want to be still in any way, certainly not musically. I do my recording at home. That pretty much gives me the opportunity to go as far as I want with things without someone looking over my shoulder and pointing at their watch, so to speak. I’ve experienced that the best things always come out of pushing the boundaries a little bit further than you feel comfortable with. That’s where you usually have the biggest breakthroughs. It’s like entering unknown but exciting territory. I don’t want to be doing the same stuff over and over again. That’s pointless. And boring.
Do you take a cold shower right after a hot one to enjoy the showering experience more fully?
You may think I’d do that, but the truth is, I don’t.
What kind of discomfort brings out the worst in you?
I hate to be challenged by non-working computers. That’s like the worse thing ever. At one point I was trying to record some songs of the album and I had three computers set up that all, simultaneously, were not working. That level of discomfort is just killing.
That’s when you enter the panic zone?
Yeah, I totally lost it that day. I basically trashed the place and bought a new set immediately.
Money is nearly always the answer. When was the last time you felt shame and what was it about?
I don’t naturally want to be in front of people. That’s an uncomfortable thing for me, but I get a lot more used to it. With interviews it’s the same. Certain questions can make you feel uncomfortable, but it could also be fun. When people are putting me on the spot about my life, it’s sometimes hard to come up with stuff on the fly. I don’t always know how I feel about things. I also don’t see the relevance most of the time. It can make me feel pretty awkward. But I guess shame is too big a word for it.
Are you comfortable with being called Adonis?
I rarely get called that. One of my exes worked with a guy named Adonis Adonis. Not kidding. It got stuck in my head and that’s how I came up with the bandname.
So you don’t have a V-shaped line running from your hip bones down to your pubis?
I wish. Where can I get one of these?
It’s called an Adonis belt. You have to drink lots of beer, I think. As a matter of fact, Adonis’ Achilles heel was his Adonis belt. He was trampled to death by a wild pig. What’s your Achilles heel?
I’ve had stage fright for the majority of my life. It feels like I’m pretty much over it, but I used to get easily flustered. Through the years I’ve learned to let go. Luckily I can enjoy what’s happening now. Another weak spot is my nut allergy. Those nuts would kill me!
What about Hollandaise sauce?
I drown my food in that shit. I love it. It’s great comfort food. The album was named after it, but I spelled it wrong to give it a psychedelic vibe.
If your comfort zone was a musical genre, what would it be?
The genre that’s called The Pixies. Every time I hear their music it comforts me, especially Doolittle. Actually, the comfort is not necessarily related to a style of music. It’s more the nostalgic quality that I like.
Can you name a few risks you had to take to make Odonis Odonis a touring band? I can imagine going fetal onstage can be a risky business.
laughs. I feel like I’m taking a risk everyday. I just gave up my house because we’re gonna be on the road for the next couple of months. I don’t have any belongings anymore, except for my VHS collection. I stashed it at a friend’s house. I’m basically floating around like a ghost. Honestly, I don’t know what other risk I can take other than putting it all into this. I’m confident about what I’m doing though. I’ve been doing music for a while now and I don’t feel you can fully sort yourself into it, unless you do it 100 per cent. It takes everything and I definitely have chosen this road. Hopefully I’m in it for the long run.
So the attraction of instant gratification does not lure you in?
I think when certain things happen and it’s instant and it feels good, you have to be appreciative when they do. But I’m definitely not a person that’s looking for a quick fix. You have to be patient sometimes. Over the years I’ve built something that feels real to me, like a house. That’s comforting.
Odonis Odonis are playing OT301 in Amsterdam on April 12 and dB’s in Utrecht on April 23. Both shows are free for Subbacultcha! members. Other live dates: 20/04 – 013, Tilburg; 21/04 – Patronaat Haarlem.