Random DNA created the Oxen of rock

“I was gung ho to find a band but nothing shook out."

Jozette and John Vineyard (center) met at a Dottie and the Diamonds show 11 years ago.
  • Jozette and John Vineyard (center) met at a Dottie and the Diamonds show 11 years ago.

Drummer Matt Nelson says his band the Oxen (which has been likened to the Breeders, Love and Rockets, or “a less drugged-out Spiritualized”) has quite the random DNA. “I was a pop-punk drummer from Cleveland, Jozette was once part of the Omaha punk scene, and John was from a 20-member choral rock band from Dallas called Polyphonic Spree.”

Oxen, "Carry On" Live at the Pour House (Oceanside, CA) February 23, 2017

John and Jozette Vineyard both sing and play guitar. They got married after meeting at a Lady Dottie and the Diamonds show at the Tower Bar 11 years ago.

Before moving here to teach special education seven years ago, Nelson had played for eight years in a Cleveland band named the Interns. Until six months ago when he hooked up with the Oxen, he had accepted that he probably wouldn’t play again.

“I was gung ho to find a band but nothing shook out. One band I played with was a group of military guys in their mid-30s who practiced at one of their parent’s beachfront homes. They told me they sounded like Dinosaur Jr., but they spent two hours playing ‘Dead Flowers’ by the Rolling Stones over and over again in between a lot of fighting. And nothing sounded like Dinosaur Jr.”

John Vineyard says he joined Polyphonic Spree (which is still touring and recording) shortly after the band was founded in Dallas in 2000.

“When I was in Polyphonic, the size ranged from 22 to 27,” says Vineyard. “When we toured we used a bus that was used by a minor-league hockey team. When you’re in a band that large you have to learn to accept that you can’t control everything.”

Nelson recalls a full-circle episode at a recent Oxen Whistle Stop show. “Bobby Bray of the Locust was doing sound. I told him I saw him when they played the Lakewood Gym in Akron in 2002. I don’t want to say it was idol worship but they were a cool fucking band who made really abrasive, subversive music.”

The Casbah

2501 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy

The Oxen appears Thursday, May 4, at the Casbah with Tim Casher and Allison Weiss. “This show will be our last with our bassist [James Molden],” says Nelson. “We’re looking for new one.”

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