The Aussie battler is defined by his trials and tribulations, easily ascending the harsh conditions that cause others to falter. Like bouncing back to do a national tour with your band, The Herd, a few months after crashing your bike and ending up in hospital getting your jaw wired.
“I missed out on New Year’s gigs and then I had my jaw wired up for about four weeks... bigger, badder and stronger, something like that,” Ozi Batla says of the accident.
When asked if he thinks the crash enhances the imagery of his stage name, the response is a little cool, but it’s evident that the man symbolises resilience.
“I would’ve preferred not to have come off the bike... just a dark street, bad road surface, didn’t see something, probably a bit tired as well. Just one of those things... a week after I had the jaw unwired, I was just back to rehearsing so I didn’t really miss too much. Feels alright, doesn’t feel too different, so far, so good.”
With spirits renewed, and the jaw holding up, The Herd are now touring a new EP, ‘Better Alive’, with the first few stops already in the bag.
“(I'm) really happy to hear a few of those tracks that missed out from the album sessions and see them get out there,” Batla says. “It’s really fun collabing with Thundamentals and Sky’High on that track (‘Better Alive’) ... We’ve been doing it as a finale... It’s going down pretty well, good fun. There’s a lot of energy in that track.”
With Thundamentals and Sky’High on the national trek as well, The Herd are playing a slab of gigs across the country. Having started in Sydney two weeks ago, the tour finally rolls into town at the end of April. Undaunted by the logistics, Ozi Batla explains it’s a matter of plotting the right course before you leave port.
“We’re fairly seasoned, we’ve done it a lot of times. These days, you know, hopefully, most of the legwork is done before we get to the airport. There’s a really good crew in at the office... we know how easy it is for everything to go pear shaped, and with Thundamentals and everyone it’s like 12 or 13 people. You’ve just got to get that shit locked down before you actually get on the road.
“It’s inevitable in a way, you’re booking things for so many people, [but] it’s still amazing how many times hotel reservations aren’t made properly, or everything’s sorted at your end, you get there in the middle of the night and you’re all in double beds... But these days, it’s all pretty hunky dory.”
With the ‘Better Alive’ EP featuring songs that didn’t make last year’s ‘Future Shade’ track list, Batla is enjoying playing the fresh material as well as blowing the dust off some of their older songs.
“There’s a lot of tracks that we haven’t played for a while and we get fans at shows that have been coming along for nine or ten years, we just wanted to rework the tracks so we don’t hate playing them... We’ve just reworked it and tried to think of ways to breathe new life into old tracks.
“Probably the funniest one to play live is a version of ‘Scallops’ over a Regurgitator tune... We’ve done a reworking of ‘Under Pressure’ as well, which is one of my favourites. It’s nice to get them back into shape.”
With Sky’High staking her place on tour as a relative new comer on the Elefant Traks roster, Ozi Batla is already convinced she has the goods to succeed.
“I really enjoyed Sky’High’s set at Newcastle. It was her first time doing bigger shows. She really stood up on the night, it was awesome. It’s going to surprise a few people, her album... ‘Hoodie & Nikes’ is really good live, ‘Don Dada’ as well. I haven’t heard the rest of the album yet but I’ve been hearing good things, really looking forward to it.”
With The Herd in good health, Ozi Batla assures us the group’s energy levels will be climaxing when they hit Brisbane.
“It’s going to be a solid night of hip hop, that’s what we hope to deliver. We’ve always had a lot of love for Brissie fans... it’s a really enjoyable place to play and we are looking forward to a good party.”
The Herd, with Thundamentals and Sky’High, play The Zoo April 27 and the Great Northern, Byron Bay, April 28. ‘Better Alive’ is available now.