Ouija Radio is a Minneapolis, MN based indie rock band. The core members consist of lead singer songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Christy Hunt, drummer/percussionist Charles Gehr, and bassist Matt "Helz" Belz. The group has had many line up changes with Hunt remaining as the only founding member. According to Hunt, the band's name come from a Circus Ridiculous act that involves asking a question and receiving an answer via the spirits in the radio. The band has recorded five studio albums (3 released, 1 unreleased, and 1 forthcoming album, two singles, and a cassette EP); the first, Washed Out America, was released in 1998. The second unreleased album was recorded in 2000 - 2001 titled "The Moon is High and So Am I", the third album Last Night on Earth, was released in 2004. Their fourth studio album, OH NO...YES! YES! was released in 2006. The fifth album has yet to be titled and is set to be released in 2010.
Formation and first cassette:
Christy Hunt, Brooke Anderson, and Shawn Walker first started playing music together in 1996 while living together in Minneapolis, MN. First established as a basement punk band, the group would quickly start playing shows at Minneapolis clubs like 7th St. Entry, Terminal Bar, Uptown Bar, Turf Club, and other Twin Cities venues. Rooted in the Amphetamine Reptile scene, the band's heavy approach to music would lead to local fame. The first recording was a cassette titled simply "Ouija Radio" recorded by Rich Mattson (Ol' Yeller, The Odd, Tisdales) in 1997.
Washed Out America:
In 1997, the band released their first full length album titled "Washed Out America" (Arachno/Porno Jazz records). The album was recorded with Dave Gardner (The Dynamiters, Selby Tigers) The record and live performances helped the band achieve local support. One writer stated, "Ouija Radio is an explosive yet melodic punk band whose live shows are high-energy assaults." The group proceeded to tour the Midwest 3 times in support of Washed Out America.
The Moon is High and So Am I:
In 2000, the band was in the process of recording their second complete album "The Moon is High and So Am I" with Tim Mac of Amphetamine Records fame. During this recording the original line up disbanded and the recording was never released. Some of the songs for this recording had been leaked online but no actual recordings have been released.
Last Night on Earth:
The second line up included Christy Hunt, Charles Gehr (Seawhores, Mark Mallman, Mid Carson July, Short Fuses, Jazz Man's Needle), Joe Ulvi (Density Bomb, Rat Salad), and Sarah Huskah (Heroine Sheiks). Last Night on Earth was recorded during the winter of 2004 at Terrarium Studios with Jacques Waite. Originally released on Ghost in the Radio Records, it was quickly re-released by Crustacean Records (Madison, WI) in 2005. Bass player Belz replaced Ulvi during this time in order to stabilize the touring line up. The album received a strange mix of strong and weak press. The band toured nationally twice in support of the album and would lose keyboardist Huska during the last leg of tour dates. Hunt would take over both keyboard and guitar duties for the rest of the tour and would solidify the next line up during this time.
Singles and Singles Tour:
In 2005 the band released two 7" single records titled "The Devil and the Witch" 7" and the "Brand New Zombie/Journey to the Center of Your Mind" split 7 " w/ Awesome Car Funmaker. Each single was released at different times and where both were accompanied by tour dates for each release. "The Devil and the Witch" is a purple marble vinyl limited edition single (300 copies) released in the spring of 2005 and was accompanied by a West coast tour of the United States. The "Brand new Zombie/Journey to the Center of Your Mind" single is a limited edition vinyl single (500 copies) released in the Fall of 2005 and was accompanied by an East coast tour of the United States. Both singles were released on Ghost in the Radio Records.
OH NO...Yes! Yes!:
The most popular album to date is OH NO...Yes! Yes! Recorded during the early winter of 2006 at Terrarium Studios by Jacques Wait. This album took a more complicated approach to recording and song writing than former records. All of the songs on the album were written and arranged by Hunt - who wrote for all instruments, performed vocals, guitars (electric & acoustic), keyboards, (synthesizers, pump organ, baby grand piano & Rhodes) as well as tambourine and additional percussion. It had been said that, "They power their way through an extensive range of sound and influences, from surf to punk to new wave to cabaret, with even a liberal amount of thick sludgy psychedelic rock dropped in for good measure." After many months of shopping the album, the band would agree to release it on Crustacean Records. The album was well received by fans and tour dates lasted from fall of 2006 to 2008. Most notable was the audiences reaction of the evolved performance. "I love the energy Matt (Belz) puts out and the general demeanor and action he and Christy (Hunt) produce when on stage together." The most popular track on this album is "Red Eye Fly". The song would eventually become a promotional tune for pro female wrestling celebrity "Rain" of Shimmer (Chicago).
Untitled forthcoming studio Album:
In the summer of 2008, the band recorded their fifth studio album at The Devils Workshop with Jacques Wait. The album is composed of songs that were written by Hunt during the Oh No...Yes! Yes! Tours. It is said to be much more "rock and roll" then previous efforts. Studio outtakes can be heard on the Crustacean Records 15 year anniversary CD and in video footage online. The record label home for this album has not been released yet but the album is scheduled for a 2010 release.
Their style has been described as "art-rock, post-punk, and classic rock and roll. Much of the appeal is Hunts guitar abilities and stage persona "like a bar fight collision of a garage rock Joan Jett and a shredded out Jimmy Page."
Side projects and collaborations:
Christy Hunt is also a member of the Detroit rock band The Von Bondies. She is currently touring in support of the album "Love, Hate, and Then There's You". Charles Gehr is a member of the Fargo/Minneapolis art/noise rock group SEAWHORES who have an album to be released in the fall of 2009. Belz can be seen as a side bass player for a variety of jazz, blues, folk, and musical theater projects in the Twin Cities area.
Compilations and Video:
Ouija Radio has been included on the Blue Worm Records Compilations (Blue Worm Records), Crustacean Records 15 years CD (Crustacean Records), and the Drown Out The Daylights Tour Diary Video (Crustacean Records)