Ocoai was a 5 piece instrumental band from Johnson City, Tennessee. They formed in the summer of 2006, and retired in June of 2012. They were signed to Missing Words Records out of Southern California, and they recorded all of their music at Fahrenheit Studios in Johnson City, TN. Ocoai started as a studio project - engineer Travis Kammeyer (The Shape, Generation of Vipers, 24 Hour Front Desk) drummer Tim Smith (24 Hour Front Desk) and a few other friends were involved in the initial recordings. At first the main 'goal' of the band was to push the limits of instrumental heaviness and create a sense of overwhelming loudness, but the project quickly evolved into a full-scale performance group.
Ocoai's early songs caught immediate attention at local shows, and high quality EPs began to circulate online. The band lineup had also solidified into:
Travis Kammeyer - guitar
Joe Armstrong (Mouth Movements) - guitar
Bo Dugger (Junk) - bass
Tim Smith - drums
2008 saw the release of the premier full length album, entitled Breatherman. That record remains their most popular work. It featured trumpet by Eric Porter (24 Hour Front Desk, Junk), and cello tracks by Cody Ledford (Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, this mountain). Cody played select shows with Ocoai to support the release of Breatherman and almost immediately became a full member. From this point on Ocoai's music began to take on a more symphonic texture, featuring alternative instrumentation in the form of cello, violin, pipe organ, timpani, gongs, slide guitar, trumpet, and trombone.
In the December 2009 they released a split with other bands from around their East Tennessee home. It was called Peacecreature, and also featured unreleased music from Panzer, Dormia, and Generation of Vipers.
In the summer of 2010 Ocoai traveled to California to perform at a Missing Words Records showcase. The success and positive reception they received was very encouraging, and the band began to plan more extensive touring. Original drummer Tim Smith found it best to retire and pass the torch to alternate drummer Joey Metcalf (Panzer, In Remembrance of Me) in order to tour more successfully.
The winter of 2010 saw Ocoai return to Fahrenheit Studios, eager to record a new full length album. This record was much more adventurous than anything they had done before, both artistically and commercially. Ocoai experimented with many recording techniques and recruited violinist Noelle Sibley and trumpeter Jacob Pitts on select songs. They also utilized the micro-donation website Kickstarter, which allowed their fans to finance the production of the record and contribute to its success. The result was The Electric Hand.
Eager to support the new record, the band launched a barrage of touring dates and garnered several high-profile shows. They performed at the influential MACROCK festival in Harrisonburg, VA. They also engaged in a very successful 2 week tour of the eastern US. The Electric Hand received mostly favorable reviews from critics, bloggers, and fans. However, it did not seem to generate the kind of traction that Breatherman had received (and continues to receive).
After more than a year of constant traveling and performing in support of The Electric Hand, life on the road began to exact a heavy toll on Ocoai's members, equipment, and families. They were also passed over for a discouraging amount of festival dates, representation opportunities, and it became increasingly difficult to travel. Ocoai began looking at retirement. In the summer of 2012 they released their final single, a live version of "La Mere de la Lumiere Matin," on Falling Down IIV, an annual independent music compilation released by a french music website. Their final performance was a sold out show at The Hideaway, the legendary hometown venue in Johnson City, TN that had seen their earliest shows.