Musicians : Oliver Charles


Drummer on the album "Fight for your mind" (1995).He has left during five years the Innocent criminals (between 1996 and 2001). It is Dean Butterworth who has replaced him during this time.


You can find below the interview of Oliver conducted by Gavin Conaty the december 18th 2003 in Los Angeles for the official website (

Q: What are you doing in your off-time?
A: Recording my own record with a friend of mine, Tim Jones, which is called Project 1836. Literally, since I landed on Sunday, starting on Monday I went straight into the studio and have been there ever since.

Q: How'd that come together?
A: Tim and I have been writing some of these songs for the last 8 or 9 years, but we never had the time, money or resources to really go for it. Now that I have a little bit of time, and the resources and money are there, I have to take my normal rest time and put it into this record. Actually I'll be doing someone else's record come January. This girl Mozella - she got signed to Maverick. I'll be recording drums for her record.

Q: Who came up with the name Project 1836, and what is its significance?
A: We really didn't have a name for the band, and over the past few years I ended up staying in two different places with the same street number (1836). Tim and I lived together in the first place, and started writing tunes together, and decided back then we had to make a record. So we called it Project 1836.

Q: Who else is playing in the band?
A: Ray Thomas and Jordan Levine are both engineers, but they're both doing a little bit of playing. Actually Ray wrote one of the tunes on the record. These guys are the two guitar players from my old ska band from ten years ago, Ocean 11. But that record's almost done as well. Jordan's also got this bizarre band called Bingewood.

Q: Are you playing with Bingewood as well?
A: Yeah, on drums. We've got two records in the can, hopefully coming out this summer.

Q: How do you find the time to play full time with the Innocent Criminals and still have connections with so many other bands?
A: I make the time. I don't any personal life.

Q: What style of music is Project 1836?

A: Everything revolves around the 80's. Not the trendy 80's that's going around right now. More like the alt stuff: Cure, Peter Gabriel, Jeff Buckley...even Depeche Mode. There's a hardcore element involved. We listen to a lot of hardcore: Sepultura, Pantera, Slayer, Strife. Mostly emo. Very melodic. Groove based. Not a lot of complex changes. Simple music. Emotional.

Q: In addition to the drums, what else are you playing?
A: Bass, guitar, piano. I'm even trying to borrow a lap slide from Ben! I'm bringing in a string section as well.

Q: Is it easier making a record on your own, in the sense that no one is telling you what to do? Or do you find it more of a challenge?
A: It's hard as $%#@. It's not easy. It kind of rests on your shoulders. If it ends up sucking in the end, it's all on you.

Q: How does the writing process differ in this band versus with the Innocent Criminals?
A: The difference is that Tim and I are doing most of the writing. It's a learning process, because I've played in a lot of other bands, but never really made a whole record on my own. It's a different experience...taking command of the shit.

Q: Who's producing the album?
A: Myself and Ray Thomas.

Q: Where are you recording?
A: The Edge Cliff House in the Silverlake, Los Angeles area.

Q: When do anticipate the album's release?
A: Hopefully by the summer of 2004. We're trying to finish it before I go back out on tour in March.

Q: Growing up in Los Angeles has given you an opportunity to work with a wealth of talented musicians. Who else have you played with?

A: I started off playing with a band in high school called Groovin High. JP and Ben met me when I was playing in that band. They were kind of an acid jazz, heavy funk, like the JB's, the Meters, etc. Then I played with the band Weapon of Choice - they were on Stone Gossard's label. I also play with the Rhythm Room All-Stars. I played in Greg Kurstin's band Action Figure Party too. But L.A. is mostly a musician scene. I mean serious players. Everyone involved in the scene are not your average players, they're super-innovative cats. They're way before their time. All of them.

Q: Let's dig into your history with the Innocent Criminals a little bit. Your first show behind the kit was at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR with Zap Mama and Keb' Mo' way back on September 4th, 1994. What do you remember about that show?
A: I remember a lot of things about that gig. I remember flying up to that gig. We had two town cars. Ben was in the car I was in. We flew up early that day. I was like wow, 'cause I'd only been playing small bars in L.A. I was kind of jazzed, because I only knew the guys for like five days before that. We'd only done four rehearsals. But then again we only did about 10 songs. But those days were different. We were road dogs. We were huffing and puffing. All of us in one van. Just the four of us, and the gear. We didn't have a trailer back then. I was only 19.

Q: How did you get together with Ben?
A: At this dive called the Gaslight (now called the Opium Den) in Hollywood in August 1994, I was playing a weekly gig with Groovin High. That night we opened for Macy Gray. JP came up to me and introduced himself, because we'd been playing some Meters tunes. He introduced me to Ben, and in the next couple weeks, Ben called about an opening in the band.... You know what? Jason Yates was playing in Macy's band back then!

Q: After finishing the 1996 "Fight For Your Mind" tour in Florida with Pearl Jam, you had a five year hiatus apart from the IC's. What did you do in your time away from the band?
A: I needed some time to recoup and get my life and chops-wise. I had to work on some drumming stuff. I played with Spearhead for a couple months. I mostly played in town; then I had to get a regular job, which really sucked. I also went on tour with Bad Brains for about a month, as a drum tech.

Q: Have you approached anything differently this time around?
A: Definitely a lot older and a lot healthier, for starters. I've changed a lot as a drummer. After playing with so many different types of bands, like Latin, jazz, speed metal, and lots of reggae and ska, I've been able to soak up tons of musical knowledge. I was playing with guys that really whipped my ass into shape.

Q: How did your recent tour of Europe rank with past tours abroad?
A: The best one ever. Ever! This whole year has been dope. This last European run was the bomb. I don't think I've ever enjoyed Europe this much. Normally I can't wait to get home. This time I was ready to go another two weeks. I'm ready to go back out on the road right now, actually.

Q: What was the most memorable moment for you?
A: You know what? There were a lot of moments. Like in Portugal. It was a huge show. Of course, the Paris shows. There weren't really any bad shows.

Q: What can we expect from the next tour starting in Japan in March 2004?
A: We're gonna tear that side of the world up. We're going to it blow it up!

Q: You used to cover Peter Tosh's reggae classic "You Can't Blame the Youth" back in the early days. Do you foresee a comeback?
A: Yes.

Q: Are you working on new material with Ben and the band?
A: Yes.

Q: Most people might not know your sister Danielle plays the violin, and has recorded and played live with BHIC. What is she up to these days?

A: She's going to school, teaching music, and being mom.

Q: Are there any other musicians in the family?
A: Yes, my father Chili Charles, who played in the Innocent Criminals, briefly. He was in the band for about three weeks as a percussionist. Leon couldn't make a tour, and my dad stepped in for a good three weeks. We went to Turkey and to France on that run.

Q: What's in your CD player right now?
A: A live Bad Brains CD. Live Ben Harper. And stuff that I'm working on. But I've got my IPOD in the car that has just about everything on it.

Q: For the tech heads, what's your current drum setup?

A: Tama Star Classic. 14" snare. 10" snare. 10" rack. 12" rack. 2 - 14" floor toms. 22" kick drum. 4 crash symbols, 2 rides, 2 chinas, and 2 splashes. I have a Roland V-Drum pad.

Q: In closing, is there anything you'd like to say to the fans?

A: Ben Harper fans are really dope fans to have because they are pretty damn loyal. Super-loyal, as a matter of fact.