When Billy Tegethoff was a kid, his dad put on a copy of Pink Floyd’s Meddle, recreating a Pink Floyd laser lightshow for his son with a laser pointer. “That pretty much sealed the deal” on Tegethoff’s lifelong passion for music, he tells me from his home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Now Tegethoff fronts The Oxford Coma, playing Eugene behind last year’s Everything Out of Tune. The album was produced by legendary punk and hardcore maestro Steve Albini, known for producing classic albums by Nirvana, The Pixies and more.
Tegethoff tells me he loves the drum sound Albini conjures in the studio, particularly in his work with avant-garde hard rockers Neurosis. “He’s pretty hands-off,” Tegethoff says about Albini’s storied production style. After meticulously arranging the microphones, “He really didn’t do much but EQ and balance.”
But the result is classic Albini, capturing Oxford Coma’s potent, raw immediacy. Tegethoff calls his band’s Tool and Deftones-influenced sound “anti-prog.”
“We play progressive, psychedelic music,” he says. While most progressive rock is pretty deliberate, he adds, “We’re just messy.”
Listening to Oxford Coma, I hear what Tegethoff means by “messy,” though it’s not the word I would choose. The band is riff-oriented for sure, but while many riff-oriented musicians aim for a kind of piston-like precision, Oxford Coma allows a certain looseness in what it does.
There’s a weird kind of free-flowing groove, like on opening track “Trauma (Maybe I’m Forgetting Something),” featuring a guest appearance by Sacha Dunable of Intronaut. Underneath it all is a persistent, gun-metal-gray menace, like rain clouds on the horizon. And when those clouds finally break, there’s a thrilling kind of panic, not unlike the adrenaline rush of nightmares.
Oxford Coma plays with Eugene’s Full Lush 10 pm Sunday, Sept. 30, at Old Nick’s; $3-$5, 21-plus.