A project led by singer Sam Swinson, Ohtis went through several hardships and hiatuses between forming near the turn of the millennium and releasing its first official album, Curve of Earth, in 2019. The record combined the group's homespun alternative country-rock with the autobiographical storytelling of Swinson.
Swinson formed Ohtis with schoolmate Adam Pressley when they were both high school sophomores in Normal, Illinois. Largely a D.I.Y. effort, they played shows around town with a revolving group of local backing musicians and released their first music as small-batch CD-Rs. Eventually, regular contributor Nate Hahn became an official third member. The band toured on and off and issued releases including Saving the Planet (2002) and the free download If This Country Had a Heart, That's Where I Was Born (2008) throughout the 2000s. By the end of the decade, Pressley and Hahn had moved out of state, though the trio continued to exchange song material online.
When life events allowed -- with Pressley in Detroit, Hahn in Chicago, and Swinson in Los Angeles -- Ohtis started working on demos. In the meantime, they began touring again in late 2016. The resulting album featured lyrics based on the singer's past battles with drug addiction as well as his upbringing in a religious cult. Calling it their official debut, Curve of Earth arrived via Full Time Hobby in 2019. It was split between songs tracked in a Nashville studio and songs recorded at various locations on a handheld recorder by Swinson. ~ Marcy Donelson