Drew Clausen leaves Mors Ontologica in the past, returns with new band and fresh outlook

From about 2003 to 2011, Drew Clausen co-led garage-punk four-piece Mors Ontologica, which made a name for itself in the arty, scuzz-fuzz corner of the local scene, releasing a series of albums on its own Very Small Scene Records. Clausen even got a tattoo of the Mors logo on his forearm.

When the band called it quits, the ending was not what he imagined. “It kind of caught fire and fell off a cliff,” said Clausen, seated next to new bandmate Johnny Riddle. “All those relationships have since repaired. … [But] it took me a while to get over that — not only having writer's block, but to be in a place where I was physically fit and mentally fit. And I got married. I have a daughter. There's a lot of positive stuff that happened.”

Along the way, while working at the Capitol and Ohio theaters, Clausen kept noticing a phenomenal drummer who would busk on the sidewalk after shows. In 2012, Clausen and others were able to get the drummer, Dennis Ingle, onstage to accompany the Columbus Symphony Orchestra with his trash cans and upturned buckets.

Clausen and Ingle exchanged numbers, and about a year and a half ago, after another project Clausen had been a part of disbanded (Montauk Trash), he reached out to Ingle to gauge the drummer's interest in joining a new band, Weird Brother. Ingle signed on, and keys player Riddle (Greenjeans) had already expressed interest in starting a band with Clausen. Weird Brother then added Steve Barrish on bass and, later on, second drummer Andy Foster (Room and Board, Montauk Trash).

Fast-forward to 2019 and Weird Brother is celebrating its debut album, True Love is a Dog, with a pair of release shows at 934 Gallery on Saturday, April 13 (which also happens to be Record Store Day), and at Land-Grant on Sunday, April 14.

Stylistically, True Love is a Dog is varied and less aggressive than Clausen's Mors material. On “London Bombay,” Clausen was inspired by the funky global vibe of Sinkane, whereas the psychedelic “Human Resource” offered the band an opportunity to showcase Ingle's street-drumming skills.

“There's a breakdown in [‘Human Resource'], which is Dennis' garbage kit,” Clausen said. “If you went in your dishwasher and took out the bottom rack while it was full and just played that, that's what that part is. I wanted to throw in a tribute to how we had met.”

True Love is a Dog centers on themes of growth and change. “A big part of my writing is being yourself, and that change is OK,” Clausen said. “I think in our society now, mental health awareness, recovery, non-binary standards and all these things have come to the forefront that six or seven years ago [weren't as common]. And they're still buried. I mean, it's not cool to say, ‘I have a therapist.'”

Those closest to Clausen have already noticed his personal growth on the album. “My sister-in-law was listening to the record,” Clausen said, “and she's always kind of followed my music career, and she was like, ‘I can hear the old Drew in there, but it's not, like, right there.' That meant a lot to me to hear that.”