OSI Band

Abbreviated form of ‘Office of Strategic Influence’, O.S.I. is a progressive rock band from United States of America that was formed by Jim Matheos (guitarist of another progressive rock band Fates Warning) in the year 2002. Kevin Moore, the vocalist and keyboardist of Chroma Key and ex-Dream Theater member, as the other full-time member of O.S.I. Actually, the collaboration is more of a studio project as both Kevin and Jim, apart from the other contributors write and track their material on an independent basis, sharing and developing the tracks sitting in different parts of the world. They come together only once at the end of the track creation process, for mixing and other purposes.

Please be informed that this is not the official site of OSI anymore. Anyone looking for more information on OSI or looking specifically for the OSI official website, should head to their Wikipedia page instead.

Jim Matheos, the original founder of the O.S.I band, was born on November 22, 1962 in Westfield, Massachusetts, United States. Apart from being the main band member of Fates Warning and O.S.I, Jim has also released couple of solo instrumental albums through Metal Blade Records. He has released a total of 11 studio albums with Fates Warning since the band’s formation in the year 1982.

Coming back to the O.S.I, the band’s name refers to Office of Strategic Influence, an American government agency that was created in the year 2001. The agency didn’t continue for long and hence was only short lived. OSI has featured several different musicians of repute in its albums, including the likes of Gavin Harrison, Steven Wilson, Mike Portnoy, Sean Malone, Joey Vera and Mikael Akerfeldt.

Jim Matheos recruited Kevin Moore, Sean Malone (chapman stickist and fretless bass guitarist) and Mike Portnoy (then drummer of Dream Theater) to perform on his originally planned solo album. Portnoy and Matheos also made plans for production of a progressive rock album, on the same lines as the work done by Matheos in Fates Warning, however, Kevin Moore’s involvement in the album completely changed its genre and direction. The reason for this was the incorporation of electronica into music that was originally supposed to be progressive metal. The debut album of OSI released in the year 2003 and was distributed by InsideOut Music.

Even though OSI was supposed to be a one-off project in the beginning, Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos found they had enough gaps in their respective schedules for production of a follow-up album called ‘Free’ in the year 2006. Portnoy returned to play drums in the form of a session musician, instead of a full-time band member. Thereafter, another album named ‘Blood’ came out in the year 2009, in which Gavin Harrison, the drummer of Porcupine Tree, replaced Mike Portnoy. The fourth album of OSI was released in the year 2012 by Metal Blade Records and was titled ‘Fire Make Thunder’. This one too had Gavin Harrison on drums, apart from Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos on their respective instruments.

The formation of the band and their debut album
As mentioned earlier, it was the intention of Jim Matheos to create a solid progressive metal group while he was on a break from Fates Warning. It was he who got Mike Portnoy and Sean Malone to work with him on the project. Soon, keyboardist Kevin Moore was also on board, introducing various keyboard arrangements to Jim’s music. With Kevin Moore coming on board, the music took a completely different direction and shape, more on the lines of what Kevin was doing in Chroma Key.
The result of all this work was the debut album Office of Strategic Influence, recorded by Portnoy, Moore and Matheos at Carriage House Studios, Stamford, Connecticut in June 2002 (the mixing happened in August the same year). Most of the songs that had solid progressive metal influence were the works of Matheos, while the ones that were vocal driven were influenced by Kevin Moore. Portnoy was also involved in making arrangements additions. This was the first time that Portnoy and Moore were collaborating since they were a part of Dream Theater back in 1994.
This debut album was released on February 18, 2003 by InsideOut Music. The album was received very positively by the critics, hailing the musicianship of the band members. Their sound was regularly compared to the likes of Porcupine Tree.

The music style of OSI
Going by what Kevin Moore had to say about OSI’s sound, it provided a fresh approach to the progressive rock genre, combining elements of electronic music and progressive metal. Many people consider these two genres completely different from each other, and it is the conflict between the two which keeps their music interesting. In Kevin’s opinion progressive rock had been around for a very long time and it was the right time to start having fun with it!
While Kevin Moore is heavily influenced by electronic, experimental and minimal techno musicians, Jim Matheos cites heavy metal and progressive rock bands like UFO, Black Sabbath, Genesis and Jethro Tull as his main influences.
Both Kevin and Jim work independently, exchanging ideas and files via email. Their writing process has remained the same ever since the release of their debut album - Jim Matheos sending Kevin Moore some idea (which could be anything like a guitar riff to an almost complete song). The latter would then work on it, edit it and send it back to Matheos. Kevin Moore considers his singing style more like someone who feels the lyrics when he/she is singing. It’s basically an introspective method.

Some interesting facts about the OSI debut album!
The limited edition of O.S.I debut album features three bonus tracks. The first one is a cover version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Set the controls for the heart of the Sun’ performed by Portnoy and Moore, as both of them were hard-core Pink Floyd fans. The second bonus track is a cover version of the popular song ‘New Mama’ of Neil Young. This one is performed by Kevin Moore alone. The third and last bonus track is a 17 minute instrumental version performed by Mike Portnoy and Jim Matheos together, and is titled, ‘The Thing That Never Was,’ depicting the original direction that Mike and Jim had in mind for the album.
There is also a 19 minute multimedia section in the album, including couple of documentary style videos that were shot during the recording of the album. Apart from these videos, there’s a Kevin Moore directed music video for the song ‘Horseshoes and B-52s’.