MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Urge Overkill’s “How Sweet The Light”

The year was 1993, and in the wake of Nirvana’s earth-shattering success with Nevermind, any band that even slightly bore a musical resemblance to Cobain and Co. was being offered a major-label deal. Saturation, Urge Overkill’s Geffen debut, was released that year, and with the success of a few minor “modern-rock” hits and the inclusion of an older UO song (a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”) on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in 1994, things looked very promising for Nash Kato and King Roeser. (Urge Overkill also landed on the cover of the first issue of a new music magazine called MAGNET; see below.)

But while the Chicago-based Urge Overkill was certainly always dressed for success, mainstream success never came. One of the problems with being a timeless rock ’n’ roll band is that, in trend-following consumers’ minds, you never every really fit in at any particular time. Saturation remains one of the best rock records of that era, sounding as good today as it did 28 years ago, but if that album—recorded in MAGNET’s hometown of Philly—didn’t make Kato and Roeser household names, nothing they did would.

Exit The Dragon followed in 1995, and while it’s a fine LP, it didn’t do much to win over any new fans. After some solo projects as well as lineup and label changes, Rock & Roll Submarine came 16 years after that, and though it was another solid effort, by that point it seemed like Kato and Roeser might be closing their supersonic storybook for good. Sure, some live performances followed, but it seemed like it might be goodbye from Guyville. Until now.

On January 28, Omnivore will release Oui, Urge Overkill’s seventh album, featuring 11 archetypal UO originals in addition to a cover of Wham!’s “Freedom.” It’s yet more timeless rock ’n’ roll that’s unmistakably the men from U.R.G.E. And if you were ever a UO fan, you’ll want to just say yes to Oui.

“We’re very proud of this album,” says Roeser. “We felt like we succeeded in continuing our mission of classic-rock penmanship. Oui oscillates between the sensibilities of myself and Nash, like a Lennon-and-McCartney vibe at their late period, and we ended up heading toward both heartbreaking directness and baroque pop.”

“How Sweet The Light” is one of Oui’s highlights, and we’re bringing it to you today. Says Kato, “This track is merely a portrait for anyone. (Perhaps a mirror?) As with life itself, the interpretation is singularly upon the observer. There is no light without darkness, no peaks without valleys? It’s only human nature to gravitate toward the light, at times even climbing dauntlessly into the fire. (Behold the Phoenix rising.) Thanks again for that solemn reminder, Jackie Blue. (You were right, how sweet the light.) Now let’s all scale them thar mountains!”

We’re proud to premiere “How Sweet The Light” today at MAGNET. Check it out right here, right now, and preorder Oui.