Photo by: Amy Au
The smell of pot wafted in the air of the Saint Rocke club. An enthusiastic and determined group of three men took center stage and the first notes rang out into the atmosphere. Drunken patrons were swaying and unconsciously rocking out to the opening band.
Long before their performance that night bandmembers of Olio sit hypnotized by hand-held digital devices on the way to a gig in a rented van. They might be caught counting some sheep. Whoever is driving is staring at black asphalt painted with white and yellow lines, sometimes for over eight hours. This happens between 60 – 100 days a year.
“There are long stretches of time and we got our iPod’s and ear buds and everyone is in their own worlds,” the guitarist of the group, Arif Hodzic said. “But there are times when the ear buds are out and we’re talking about things and laughing.”
Before the glamour the group was known as Vivid. At the time there was another band with the same name. The German-based band Vivid sent a cease and desist letter telling the Los Angeles band to change its name or stop playing altogether. Legally this equates to the band not selling merchandise or any marketing opportunity with the Vivid name, which can mean a loss of thousands of dollars for the band.
Olio is a three-piece rock and roll funk band. The group’s stage apparel are white neckties on black shirts with black slacks, which is reminiscent of a classic ‘80s video by Duran Duran.
“Olio is a fun, energetic vibe of a Saturday night party, electrified with grit, soul and Rock & Roll,” Hodzic said when describing the band.
Hodzic is also one of the three vocalists in the band. He stands at 6 feet tall and does not dress as a mean and gritty rock and roller. His dark wavy locks contrast his fair skin. Hodzic chose not to follow in his father’s footsteps after being an architecture apprentice.
“Playing music is my favorite job,” Hodzic said.
Being the newest member as well as the resident stuntman/bassist and a singer in the band, Kelley Hill utilizes all areas of the stage in every performance. His persona on stage is about being vertical and horizontal on stage.
“The best thing you can do for yourself is to be better than the opening band,” Hill said. “I need to be entertaining.”
DeHaven Carrington may tower over the band, but he is mild-mannered and keeps everything on the down low. He plays drums and sings, too. He started playing music when he was 19 years old. Hodzic and Carrington met in a cover band 20 years ago. Carrington plays for the love music.
“Don’t chase fame. Fame will kill you. It will destroy everything that you try to accomplish, ” Carrington said.
Chris Henry is a sound engineer that graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business. Henry has done sound for B.B. King, The Allman Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, Faith Hill and The Queens of the Stone Age.
“You can always do the Miley Cyrus thing and do a shock value thing,” Henry said. “I think that you have to be savvy in social media and keep that thing in gear. “
Showing up at the venue hours before performance time is one point that is key to being successful. Olio is a self-service band. They are their own roadies. This means they set up their microphones, tune guitars, hook-up amplifiers and assemble the drum kit. They also drive the van from gig to gig and sell their merchandise.
The group Olio has been together for more than 17 years and their bonds are stronger than ever.
Hodzic’s wife Beth has seen the band from the beginning. She supports his travles on the road and encourages his life as a musician. Alone with the kids, she is better organized when the band is on the road. “When he comes home finally, he messes the schedule all up,” Beth Hodzic said. “It seems like there is a tighter ship running at home when he is gone than when he is here.”
Olio finished the set. Moving at a rapid pace, they strip the stage of their equipment placing it back exactly as it was. Meanwhile the roadies of the headliners are putting the next band’s gear together on stage.
Stepping closer to headliner status is not far away for Olio. Roadies, get your applications ready.