On a June Thursday at the Beachland Tavern, it leans into the Doom, playing cuts off its debut Into the Wood. Sludgy rock tunes such as “Cult of Witches” and “Psychic Leader” tell heady, horror-movie-inspired tales of freaky cult leaders and wayward spiritual entities.
“It’s like seeing something weird in the woods and skeptically going after it,” says bassist Nick Yanosko.
Equal parts Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath, the music of OSTOD, as the act’s affectionately called, explores the sonic limits of psychedelia, prog and ’70s stoner rock — delivered with chops that make most players want to quit. Singer-guitarist Ryan Fletterick’s haunting riffs explode into soaking wet, hallucinatory guitar solos of Middle-Eastern-inspired madness. It’s all tempered by a graceful stage presence and a devious grin.
“We’re drawn to the macabre and the dark but also the happy and fruitful,” Fletterick says. “We’re a band of parallels.”
Consider the scene just two weeks later, on a Monday near midnight at the Winchester Music Tavern. Empty barstools are scarce as deadheads and metalheads alike pack the house for one surprising attraction: jazz.
The band’s alter ego, Oregon Space Trail of Jazz, plays cleaned-up Doom songs, instrumental originals and standards. The distortion-free set highlights each member’s musicianship, with an extra nod to Fletterick and drummer Tony Kazel’s classical jazz training.
“The whole idea of us playing jazz is to spread that knowledge and encourage young people to find something they might not know they like,” says Fletterick.
The jazz persona also opens doors that might not be ready for a full dose of Doom.
“Doom might not be well-suited for a wine bar, private party or jazzier club, which often pay more,” says guitarist Nolan Cavano, who acts as the sure-handed Bob Weir to Fletterick’s Jerry Garcia. “We play these jazz songs to fund the Doom,” says Fletterick.
Funnily enough, OSTOD’s roots are more subdued. For their first show under the Doom moniker, Fletterick and Kazel donned black turtlenecks and sunglasses for a coffee house gig as a folk duo. A second show at Beachland Tavern pushed the band toward a fuller, electric sound.
They haven’t stopped since. After settling on a lineup in April 2018, the band has played around 75 shows across Ohio, plus Pittsburgh, Nashville, Tennessee, and Brooklyn, New York. It’s become a staple at local festivals, from Taste of Tremont to Larchmere Porch Festival.
“It doesn’t matter what time slot we’re at on the bill or if we’re playing to five people or 5,000 people,” says Kazel, “we’re always trying to deliver a good show.”
In addition to an exhaustive schedule, trippy music videos and stylish branding are the Kool-Aid sipped by the kind of cultish following the band could write a song about.
Designed by local artist Garth Phillips and printed by Cleveland Print Co., the company operated by Phillips and Fletterick, OSTOD’s T-shirts elevate the concert tee into a streetwear statement. A recent shirt celebrating the release of song “Rainbow People” riffs on the iconic Sherwin-Williams logo — instead, covering the earth with Doom.
“Garth is pretty much our fifth member,” says Fletterick. “We attribute a lot of our success in terms of audience reach to his designs.”
With a 10-date Midwest tour in October, the band now has its sights set beyond Cleveland. Local devotees should see them while they still can, perhaps at one of three sets at this weekend's Ingenuity Fest.
“We just want to play for a few people and the sound guy for a couple months to a year, and then maybe next time we come around, there are a few more people,” says Cavano. “We’re just going to keep hustling and trying to spread the Doom, you know?”
8:00 AM EST
September 23, 2019