When it comes to the world of Turks, T-VINE loves to cover the cool and the quirky, and so we were intrigued to learn about an American band called Ottoman Turks.
Hailing from Dallas, Texas, here are five brilliant things we discovered about these booty-shaking, country rockers.
Turkey of old inspires band name
The four-piece band comprises of lead guitarist Joshua Ray Walker, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Nathan Mongol Wells, bassist and vocals Billy Law, and drummer Paul Hinojo.
A solo project that started in 2009 for Nathan, who started penning songs in his family bathroom, he then co-opted Paul, who he knew from another band, and later Billy.
Billy’s childhood friend Joshua was initially a one-night stand-in for a single Ottoman Turks gig and has ended up playing every show since.
The band’s name was inspired by Nathan’s travels around Turkey and the Middle East when he was fresh out of high school. The name “was evocative of another time and place, of a culture that transcended boundaries, unified nationalities, and became a melting pot of ideas,” states their record label’s band blurb.
The Mongol Rally
As a kid growing up in the Middle East, Nathan’s experiences were shaped outside of his native Texas. One of his early loves was the Mongol Rally, a crazy Eurasian road race that is known as “the greatest motoring adventure on the planet.”
Starting from Britain’s Goodwood Circuit, the Mongol Rally takes drivers through dozens of countries, and across mountains and desert, on to Mongolia, where Ulan Bator was the original end destination, and finally to the finish at Ulan Ude in Russia.
Depending on the route taken (drivers are free to decide their own routes), the journey can be as long 10,000 miles and take up to four weeks to complete. The only rules are that all rally vehicles have a 1200cc engine limit, the teams are unsupported and they must raise at least £1000 for charity The Mongol Rally.
“Sunset smiles” by Matthias Furer, overall winner of the #MongolRally photo competition 2020.
Check out his full unconventionally brilliant album here: https://t.co/Wfek1K3qAM pic.twitter.com/s8VDrB22JZ
— Mongol Rally (@mongolrallylive) February 15, 2021
Nathan’s middle name “Mongol” is a nod to this incredible race and all it stands for.
An ‘Outlaw-Country-Garage-Rock’ kind of sound
“We wanted to be a country band, but we realised none of us were good enough musicians to pull that off,” Joshua said then of the group’s vibe. “So we got louder and faster and turned into what we sound like now.”
Like the clash of Middle Eastern and Western cultures found in its namesake Turkey, Dallas rockers Ottoman Turks and their music occupy the space between a honky-tonk and punk.
The band describe their raucous sound as “outlaw-country-garage-rock”. Their press notes for their latest album paints an even more vivid picture: “an effortless combination of unlikely influences, both blistering and smooth like the beer after a shot of whiskey or the lime after a tequila.”
Ottoman Turks draw heavily from a wide range of musical inspirations, which include Tom Waits, Hank Williams, the Clash, ZZ Top, Jack White (White Stripes), Black Sabbath and Gogol Bordello. These influences and more enter the band’s high energy sound pit and emerge as something completely distinctive.
Live and direct “fire and noise, Texas-style”
Ottoman Turks have acquired a fine name for their epic live performances that encompass everything from crowd-pleasing frenetic solos and guitar-smashes, to downing shots and crowd surfing.
Winner of the Dallas Observer Music Awards’ Best Group Act 2020, their rowdy onstage antics are a big draw in their home state of Texas, with Ottoman Turks quickly acquiring a reputation far beyond.
Rolling Stone called the band “fire and noise, Texas-style,” in their “Artist You Need To Know” in January 2020, while Central Track listed the “Motherf#cking Ottoman Turks” as number three on their “100 Dallas Things We’re Thankful for in 2020.”
Ottoman Turks II: will blow your home speakers
The band released Ottoman Turks II, the follow-up to their self-titled debut album, on 2 April via State Fair Records.
Produced by John Pedigo (Old 97’s, Vandoliers), it includes a chunk of material that was recorded in a marathon, three-day session that produced the Turks’ 2019 debut album. These six songs sit nicely alongside five newly recorded tracks, reflecting the party band’s distorted swagger of old, and much more.
Evolving from their “punch-in-the-face kind of record” that typified their debut release, Ottoman Turks II effortlessly straddles the worlds of country, hard rock and blues, with bold character-driven lyrics to match.
“I’ve always loved strong characters in songs,” says Nathan, the band’s lead songwriter. “While you’re being told a tale, transported to a different time or place or into the mind of someone you aren’t, you can still understand what they’re feeling and where they’re at. That’s where the magic happens.
“The core idea of my songs come from my own personal experiences or thoughts, and finding a character to embody that opens it up. I can be more honest that way, both with the listener and with myself. Satire and dark humour also offer ways I can approach difficult subjects.”
These story songs flip between self-deprecation and self-confidence, each delivered at fever pitch with a nod and a wink, and a sound that is guaranteed to blow your home speakers.
Standout tracks include 35 to Life, Vaquero, Rootless Tree and Cigarettes & Alcohol.
Ottoman Turks II is on sale now from all good record stores, and streaming sites including Spotify and YouTube.