The Abyss' Sean Ozz Talks Rocking And Tattooing

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The Abyss is one of those bands that makes everything that happens in the dark all right. Led by the dominating vocals of Sean Ozz, they've had some rocky starts in the Houston music scene.

It's taken more than a year for Ozz to solidify the line-up of his band, but now that he has The Abyss is ready to assume the role of Houston's top spooky rock act (recently vacated by Silenced Within) when they take the stage at Warehouse Live Sunday.

In the time when Ozz is not leading The Abyss band, he's a tattoo and airbrush artist. Now, tattoos and degenerate rock and roll go hand in decorated hand. Rocks Off can name very few rockers without at least an obligatory panther somewhere on their body.

What interested us, however, was what the relationship between creating musically and creating visually might be. Music and art are two very different disciplines, with very different tools and techniques. Yet in the time we've known him, Ozz has made it quite clear that both avenues of expression are connected for him. This week we sat down with Ozz to discuss that connections.

Rocks Off: How is writing a song different from coming up with a piece of visual art?

Sean Ozz: The way I create visual art in some regards is very similar to how I create audio. On paper for example, I will use a light-colored lead pencil and with a very loose concept in my head I will start making lines and sketching shapes till the objects come into form. Then I go back and clean up the images. Lastly going back to add minor details to pull it all together.

With music we tend to just start creating sounds that shape into something, each one of us then reshapes and adjust parts till they mesh on top of each other. The vocals start more with random sounds and words that are then replaced by a story that tries to fit the mood and emotion the music has created. Finally, little tweaks are made to add a bit more character to the overall sound.

RO: Which is harder, playing and instrument or drawing?

SO: For me it's playing an instrument. I have been drawing or painting or tattooing solid for the last 17 years so it is very, very second nature. Although music has always been a big part of my life, I had a long break where I touched nothing for 15 years.

I just started playing again in the last 3-4 years, and I can see a huge climb in my skill levels from early recordings to now and hope to continue to get to the point that it too becomes more second nature just as my art is.

RO: Do elements of your art work their way into songs, or vice versa?

SO: I have not crossed [the] two together fully. Though it does come in handy that I can capture a mood as I create backdrops and banners for the band myself, knowing that the images and feel will 100 percent work with our sound. Not to mention save money on logo design and tattoos for the band.

RO: How do you think the rock scene and the tattoo scene connect?

SO: Music, art, and tattooing have gone hand [in] hand forever, and I'm sure they will continue to do so. For me it comes in very handy. I meet people in the music scene who want tattoos, so I get business that way. I also make contacts through tattooing that help open doors for us in the music world.

RO: If you could illustrate one of your songs, which one would it be?

SO: "This Beautiful Lie" has a video I have created in my head that runs every time I hear the song. It is something we cannot film ourselves yet, and the budget would be more then we could do at this time due to models, special effects and such to pull it off.

RO: Has a piece of art ever inspired you to write a song?

SO: I think it would be more the other way around. I could see a song's emotion coming out, helping me create different art projects. It's very easy to zone into a project when you have music that you can tell has emotion running through it. No matter if you realize it or not, the music will influence the outcome of the finished piece.

The Abyss plays Warehouse Live Sunday with Flawless Escape.

Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.

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