Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Ouro

Photo credit – Greywood/Sam Vins. Courtesy of Ouro Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Nashville, Tenn.-based alt-rock outfit Ouro (pronounced “Or-Oh”) recently dropped their latest single “Fall Too Soon,” which focuses on two people who want to be together, but ultimately know that they can’t, all told through lyrically lunar tendencies.

Ouro are drummer Sean McCann, guitarist Shane Hurtado and vocalist/bassist JC Balserak all connected in high school and eventually each diversified their musical interests.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the band about “Fall Too Soon” and more.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Shane Hurtado – The pandemic has affected music in many ways we never saw coming. We’ve had to cancel practices because of positive Corona tests and now we mainly have a zoom meeting each week to talk about music business stuff. Ouro hasn’t been able to play a show since March 2019 because of Covid and now a lot of the venues we’ve played at struggle to stay open. It’s very sad to see. It is nice to see how musicians are finding new ways to make money in this new world though from live streams to parking lot concerts to socially-distanced events. This really makes me hopeful for what the future can bring. 

Music Bugle – What inspired the band name?

JC Balserak – We had an enormous list of names we were considering for a long time, all compiled into this document on one of our phones. We’ve been historically bad at whittling down names for things, be it for songs or bands, but one of the days, we were passing the phone around trying to decide before a gig we were going to play and we settled on “Ouro,” short for “ouroboros.” I’ve always loved the symbolism behind the ouroboros. The ouroboros is an emblem of wholeness and the unity of all things, as well as a representation of the eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation which takes place in the natural world.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your type of music?

Sean McCann – I really enjoy the blending of different influences we all bring in and watching how that’s developed over time. We all started by playing pop punk in high school, but since then, we’ve branched out to pop, funk, indie and even some electronic stuff.  Shane has dove into jazz and brought a lot of that flavor in, especially with the chords he uses. JC had the idea of throwing a trap beat in another tune and it worked really well!

Music Bugle – What would you say is the biggest challenge in being a trio? 

Sean McCann – The only real challenge we can think of is playing live. Shane layers different guitar parts on recordings, so having that “rock band” fullness live with only one guitar is tricky., but beyond the issue of live shows, it’s great. For one, scheduling with only three people is a total breeze. Creative choices are a lot easier to make with less people, but at the same time, there’s more space for everyone to be involved and collaborative. You don’t really have to “stay in your lane” as much and I imagine that’s something larger bands might have to consider.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Nashville to someone who has never been there before?

JC Balserak – You’ll get out of Nashville whatever you set your intention on, in my experience! The server at your favorite bar is more than likely also a budding singer, so it’s easy to find common ground with total strangers. It’s a friendlier place than Los Angeles, but about as difficult to stand out in as a band, just because of the sheer volume of talent. I’ve learned so much from just living here and immersing myself in the musical community.

Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory while with the band? 

Shane Hurtado – My favorite band memory was when we played a private show for my sister in Illinois. She invited about 50 guests and we played a long set consisting of originals and covers. It was a special show for me because most of my family hadn’t heard our band play live for years and that night, we were all on point.

Music Bugle – What inspired you guys to write “Fall Too Soon”? 

JC Balserak – I have a very close friend who I’ve known since I was a freshman in high school. She was basically my best friend for a long time, but I could always tell there might have been something more to our friendship than either of us talked about. We hooked up a few times when we were drunk and brave enough, but we never really told each other how we felt when we were sober. For one reason or another, I figured a relationship wouldn’t have worked between us, but I still have a place in my heart where she touched me and I guess that’s what this song was expressing. You don’t have to look back on every romantic situation that didn’t pan out in a sad way.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?

Sean McCann – I think we all rely on playing music to escape from how intense the world can feel sometimes, though lately, we’ve all spent more time in nature. JC had done lots of backpacking, camping and hiking and I’ve done some hiking and camping too.

Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write or compose? 

Shane Hurtado – The hardest one for me to write the guitar part for was “Let Grow.” In 2015, JC and I both were drawn to a guitar/bass technique called “Thumping.” JC was taught “thumping” by its creator Reggie Wooten and I was taught by Josh Martin and watching instructional videos by Tosin Abasi. The funny thing was that we both ended up thumping a little differently. When I originally brought the idea for the song to JC, he started thumping along and our two parts wound up complimenting each other very nicely. I still cringe a little before we play it, because I know I am gonna mess up at least one thing in it! (Laughs)

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Sean McCann – This might sound silly, but there’s a quote I wrote down from a MasterClass ad I saw a while ago. “You are a thought machine. Everything you see, hear, experience is usable. Whatever makes you unique as a performer, do it and know that there is room for you,” by Steve Martin, in a MasterClass ad. That quote lives on my bedroom wall now!

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