Oolah-lah

By Christopher Wallace

The Oolahs are a snappy quartet from Los Angeles that passed through Salt Lake City last Friday on a tour to promote their debut album, Best Stop Pop.

With songs like “Octopus,” reminiscent of Kim Deal’s songs with The Breeders, and wonderfully flighty tracks like “Gone”-Best Stop Pop is a bright album from a band with a bright future.

“(Our music) is fun and real and righteous,” said singer and guitarist Olivia Stone.

The band came together when Mark Ekland was introduced to Stone by a relative of Stone he was doing post-production audio work with.

“I met him and it was way too creepy that it was all so perfect,” said Stone.

Joined by Mark Ekland’s brother, Greg Ekland, the three set out to write songs together. They made and self-released a CD they played for friends, selling about 100 copies over the Internet, before playing live shows in L.A.

Collaboration seems to come easily for the group.

“It sort of happens really organically,” Mark Ekland said. “When we first started writing together?the stuff we were doing?didn’t sound like anything that was out there.”

“It’s not revolutionary,” Greg Ekland said, “but there was something about it that was interesting to the three of us.”

The band’s name came as a culmination of a day spent riding L.A. buses, looking for names on signs or in conversations-the typical first step following the question, “What should we call ourselves?”

“We were riding the bus like we usually do,” Stone explained. “There were two boys on the bus?just chillin’?and a girl walks on the bus, and one boy looks at her and goes, ‘damn, she’s fine,’ and the other one goes, ‘she ain’t no oolah.’ And me and Mark go (they mimic themselves looking at each other and gasping).”

This tour has been hard on the band members, who’ve had to combine little sleep with lots of coffee and driving to get from one venue to the next. But they’re not complaining.

“The whole leading up to your show is the work part,” Stone said. “Then you get on stage and you feel so free and alive, and like, ‘Oh, I know why I do this again. Cool.’ And you get off (stage)?and you’re like, I feel so great and happy.”

Life in L.A. is a love-hate duality for the trio. The Ekland brothers miss the rain and overcast skies of Portland, Ore., while Stone says, “you can’t escape cause you’re broke”-though she still prefers L.A. to her hometown of Phoenix, Ariz.

The Oolahs have few pursuits outside of working on songs and perfecting their live shows.

“We want to get more and more and more fans and then make another music video that isn’t as cheap as our last one, and then, the sky’s the limit,” Stone said.

With fans beginning to show up wanting their self-released record autographed, the Oolahs seem to be on their way.