Brooklyn's genre-defying Oneida take their primary cues from '60s garage and punk bands (especially MC5), but throw in plenty of heavy, bluesy '70s stoner rock (think Blue Cheer, Foghat, etc.) plus dashes of jerky synth pop, avant-garde jazz, and Krautrock.
Originally featuring guitarist/vocalist Papa Crazy (aka PCRZ), keyboardist Bobby Matador (aka Fat Bobby), drummer Kid Millions, and bassist/guitarist Hanoi Jane (aka Baby Jane), the group made a name for itself in the New York area by virtue of its raucous live performances, which were frequently conducted in lofts and warehouses.
Oneida's 1997 debut, A Place Called El Shaddai's, was released by Turnbuckle, but after the release of 1999's Enemy Hogs, they moved to Jagjaguwar (which subsequently re-released the album). They were especially prolific in 2000, releasing both the Steel Rod EP and the full-length Come on Everybody Let's Rock. They continued to release albums at a relatively swift pace, issuing Anthem of the Moon in 2001 (the last record to feature Papa Crazy, who split from the band in late 2001) and Each One Teach One a year later. Atheists, Reconsider, a split EP with the equally formidable Liars, also came out that year on the Arena Rock Recording Company imprint. Oneida released their sixth album, Secret Wars, in 2003, and also wrote and recorded the score for Speedo, a documentary about Long Island and New Jersey's demolition derby circuit, that year. Unfortunately, the music was for the most part left out of the finished film. That didn't slow Oneida down much, though, as they released the Nice./Splittin' Peaches EP for Ace Fu in late 2004, followed in early 2005 by the ambitious, string-tinged The Wedding and 2006's death and rebirth-themed Happy New Year.
In 2008, Oneida announced their next endeavor, Thank Your Parents, a musical triptych challenging the band to further experiment with rhythm, harmony, and tonality. The first installment, Preteen Weaponry, came that August, followed in 2009 by the triple album Rated O, with Absolute II closing out the project in June 2011. They returned later the same year with a split album with Mugstar called Collisions 02 before releasing the full-length A List of the Burning Mountains in 2012.
After what was, for them, an unusually long break between records, and still sporting a core lineup of Bobby Matador, Hanoi Jane, and Kid Millions, What's Your Sign appeared in 2016 via Northern Spy. It was written, engineered, and performed in collaboration with fellow genre-bender Rhys Chatham. The double LP Live at Secret Project Robot was released by Safety Meeting Records in 2017. Joyful Noise, which had previously issued several limited-edition singles by Oneida, released their studio full-length Romance in 2018. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi