The members of Oneida are not fans of downtime.
The Bushwick-based avant-rock quintet has been a constant flurry of activity since forming in 1997. Since that time, the stalwart borough band has kept up an exhaustive pace of recording, rehearsals, and live performances, leaving a lengthy discography and even lengthier concerts in its wake.
Many musicians would be well and truly burned-out after 17 years at such a prolific pace, but Oneida’s members take a rather matter-of-fact approach to their work. They cite artists like Krautrock pioneers Can and space jazz icon Sun Ra as inspiration for their own operating methods.
“Not to put us in the same place as those big, incredible pillars of creative music,” said Oneida’s drummer John Colpitts (or Kid Millions, as he prefers to be known), “but we try to use bands like that, who performed a lot and created a lot of material, as guides.”
One by-product of creating so much material is that the group’s sound remains in a constant state of flux.
Oneida’s 2009 triple-album release “Rated O” found it slipping through a variety of styles, including Indian-influenced drones, laptop electronic experiments, and rumbling, drum-heavy tracks topped with screeching violins. The band’s most recent work, 2012’s “A List of the Burning Mountains,” is slipperier still, featuring two long tracks of jazzy improvisations recorded in the band’s home studio.
The past year has been taken up primarily with touring and keeping busy with side projects, but the band plans to spend much of 2014 in the studio. On the docket is putting the finishing touches on a collaborative album with minimalist composer Rhys Chatham, and laying down tracks for what will be its 13th full-length album.
With so much material under the Oneida’s collective belt, putting together a set list for a show can be a daunting task. For the band’s upcoming show at the Knitting Factory on Jan. 31, the members promise a varied show that will include some new songs, some older works, and plenty of improvisation.
“We have a pretty deep catalog of stuff,” said Colpitts. “I think there’ll be a little bit of everything.”
Oneida at the Knitting Factory [361 Metropolitan Ave. bear Havermeyer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 529–6696, bk.knittin
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