“I’ve got to get my mum a Mini,” says Dominic McGuinness. “Then move out. In that order!” He might be fronting The Bohicas, one of the coolest rock bands straddling the Essex/London border, but McGuinness’s priorities remain close to home.
Having given up his day job a few years ago (as a decorator of palatial ‘iceberg houses’ in Kensington), he’s been writing songs in his room “until someone gives a shit”.
Happily for them, “someone” included QOTSA producer Mark Rankin, with whom The Bohicas have just cut their debut LP The Making Of. It’s a sharp-suited, harmonious racket, mixing the sexy fuzz of Marc Bolan and the Velvet Underground with jutting, contemporary rock’n’roll. Recently the catchy likes of To Die For went down a treat on a string of Essex dates, from Colchester to Canvey Island. Places that, surprisingly, they’d never played before.
“I don’t understand why Essex isn’t part of the gig circuit,” says McGuinness. “It was this blank canvas. The crowds were fantastic, I compare them to ones in Glasgow and Manchester. There’s a real openness in places like that. They don’t mind admitting they enjoy it, whereas in London you can see a dozen rock bands any night, so it becomes more of a routine than an event.”
Growing up in Hainault, flanked by a jazz/boogie piano-playing father and songwriter older brother (indie musician Eugene), McGuinness’s musical stirrings began early. “The piano was part of the furniture. If you were watching TV you’d end up just giving up and listening to dad play,” he remembers. “And the fact that my brother was writing songs seemed insane, so I started copying him and that’s really what I’ve been trying to do since.”
At school in Woodford Green, he met bandmates Brendan Heaney (drums) and Dominic John (guitar) around 2002. “I gave up football, picked up a guitar and ate crisps for about six years,” he chuckles. As 12-year-olds they bonded over their parents’ Ray Charles, Beatles and Johnny Cash collections, as well as early-00s guitar bands. The four of them played in various groups before joining forces – “ripping off The Strokes” and doing “terrible Beatles covers”. Hitting their 20s, McGuinness and Heaney formed a two-piece called Swanton Bombs. “We were named after a wrestling move. We were awful, but it was a lot of fun,” he laughs. “We somehow got signed, had an album out and toured it. So we found our gig legs doing that. But the music was crap, it didn’t feel anything like this.”
Joined by bassist Adrian Acolatse in 2013, The Making Of was born. Initial reactions have been markedly positive, which McGuinness hopes will translate to bona fide listener pleasure.
“When you’re a teen you have those magic ‘headphone moments’” he enthuses. “Music’s dead fucking fun. I try not to forget that, and I hope you can hear that with this album. And if our music triggers that reaction with other people, that’d be amazing.”
FOR FANS OF: Kings Of Leon, Aha Shake Heartbreak
“We could hold a tune by the time this one came out,” says Dominic. “When you read the lyrics you get that sense of the Kings Of Leon being from the outskirts. Obviously we’re not shit-kickers from Tennessee, but we’re from the outskirts too. I love the aggression and the energy. And it all sounds like it’s coming from the same room.”