“It’s a terrible day in California,” Jason joked about the 79 degree weather. It isn’t often you find a geek with social skills; but a geek with social skills and musical talent is even more surprising. That doesn’t begin to scratch the surface for Jason Achilles Mezilis, guitarist of the emerging band Owl. The group, who has just released their album The Right Thing, is rocketing toward stardom at a fast pace. Jason’s in-depth knowledge of geek culture made me question my credentials and there is no doubt that it has bled over into Owl’s music.
Take heed to my fair warning about his nerd knowledge. This guy is a regular geek-database and I had no idea until I asked him about some of his geeky hobbies.
You know it’s funny, I read online that most geeks talk in movie quotes and, especially in this age, no one knows what I’m talking about. I would say I am a huge sci-fi nerd. I can list you all the attributes of my Dungeons & Dragons characters from when I was 17.
Sci-Fi? I immediately thought there’s no way he could have transcended my expectations within the first five minutes. Is it wrong to think that the modern day geek is one who can recite every line from the X-Men series and owns a couple of classic comics? By that definition, Jason should be praised for his knowledge that originates decades back. It all started with the first Star Wars movie or the “motionless picture” as he called the film. Regardless, sci-fi was Jason’s original platform because, as a kid, it left him wondering what was to come of not only the universe but technology as well.
Jason found time to express himself through music, and at the early age of 8 he began to learn classical piano. For the next 11 years he studied the art and continued through his education at the University of California, Berkeley. Judging from the reoccurring theme, Jason couldn’t have been satisfied with just one interest, so in high school he picked up the guitar after he attended his first Van Halen concert. Carrying his love of his music through college brought him to where he is today, but he definitely didn’t lose any of his geek qualities on the way. “Me and my friends use to run the SETI screensaver at Cal,” he said. His journey oozed ambition as he described how he got to where he is now.
I had to ask if any of his geeky traits carried over into his music. Jason then encouraged me to watch the video to their single Pusher produced by OverIt Media where Owl’s drummer, Dan, is the president. OverIt Media is an interactive digital agency and they are responsible for all of the band’s film production as well as their record label. After watching the video, it is beyond clear that Owl’s music has been influenced by Jason’s love of geekdom.
I also had the fortune to become acquainted with my favorite fantasy artist, a very popular artist by the name of Larry Elmore, who lives out in Kentucky and is one of the nicest fellows you could ever meet. He did most of the cover art for the Forgotten Realms novels, as well as lots of D&D work, etc. I consigned some artwork for him as a present for my best friend, and we even went as far as to do some preliminary work on an animated production idea that I brought forth to him…but of course, that work is all still pending some major funding. I first met Larry through Myspace, and we connected later at Comicon in San Diego during one of his autograph sessions. He is seriously an awesome dude.
I have to admit my jealousy showed a bit as Jason led me through his first Comicon event. What an experience it must have been to sit with Larry Elmore as he signed autographs to the eager fans for hours. Sounds like a dream come true for many of us. For Jason to attend such an event, surely he has a favorite comic book character, right? “Spider Man”, he said, “because I could relate to him most as a child.” Jason felt he could fit in Peter Parker’s shoes perfectly (besides the web spitting ability, of course).
Jason’s geekiness really showed through as he described Marvel’s remakes of their comic-inspired movies as a slap in the face to their fans. He went on to self-proclaim himself as the “Soup Nazi” fan of the sci-fi realm. His emotional involvement was intriguing and I had to see where this stemmed from. It turns out, it started in the family. In fact, Jason’s cousin, Stathy, first introduced him to Dungeons & Dragons as a kid and he was amazed at how the game gave users the creativity to build their own world. Now, his first love has come full circle with Owl. “It has given me a common ground and allows the band members to be on the same page because they share the same love of visual interpretation in the fantastical realm,” Jason said, when asked if Owl shares the same interests. Their first album has a 27 page booklet, each song accompanied by cover art done by Phil Montelone which is a clear testament to how well they manage to incorporate the sci-fi inspiration with their music.
Owl is just coming off of their album release in Los Angeles which was held at The Roxy for their latest album, The Right Thing. They plan to return to New York in the middle of May to perform with the band 10 Years. Their new music video for the lead track, Destroyer, is filming soon as well. As you can see, they have many things planned in the next couple of months, but the art they’ve already created is monumental. I say that from firsthand experience. Jason spoke from a genuine place both about geek culture and music. I can see the reflection of that in Owl’s work. The dynamic style that bleeds through their songs is something that deserves your undivided attention. Check out Owl and their newly released album The Right Thing; you are long overdue for a unique experience.
Check out Owl on Facebook , Twitter, and their official website.