Introducing The OBGMs, your new Canadian punk rock overlords

(Image credit: Amanda Fotes)

“We don’t believe in playing by the rules,” states Densil McFarlane, singer/guitarist with The OBGMs. “We want you to like us because we’re fucking Nirvana, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. We’re out here doing different shit that you haven’t heard before. And you should love it.” 

As you might gather from that, McFarlane isn’t shy when it comes to self-promotion. He does make a convincing case, though. The Canadian trio’s post-hardcore racket might have antecedents in the likes of Black Flag, Hüsker Dü or Pixies, but The OBGMs’ music is delivered with such unbridled ferocity and melodic vigour that it feels bracingly fresh. 

Their latest album The Ends rushes by in a blur of punk-metal riffs, sharp beats and combative vocals. It transpires that this emphatic statement of intent was born of frustration and creative block. Shortly after McFarlane returned from the band’s last tour he underwent a crisis of confidence. 

“I was struggling with this thing that I’d spent well over a decade in,” he admits. “Working so hard but feeling that we weren’t going anywhere. And it’s tough. I went back into my bunker, and realised that I hated everything I’d ever written – every single song. I just questioned if I was good enough to be doing this.” 

Having co-founded The OBGMs in Toronto with drummer Colanthony Humphrey in 2007, originally as a hip-hop production team, McFarlane eventually decided to redouble his efforts. Recording and performing wasn’t enough.

“I realised I needed to work harder and find a strategy in order to make something bigger,” he explains. “I’m a notorious hermit and not particularly friendly, but I started putting myself out there more. And I met a bunch of cool people who believed in us, including Dave Schiffman, who ended up producing the record. So yeah, I came back.” 

The OBGMs (an acronym for The Ooh Baby Gimme Mores) were a four-piece when they cut their self-titled debut of 2017. Joe Brosnan remains on bass, but they’ve since dispensed with their synth player and, under the guidance of Schiffman (whose credits include Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine) focused their approach into something heavier and sharper. 

The Ends’ lyrics are an uncompromising manifesto from a band who’ve opted to take on the music business in their own brusque way. Cash is a prime example. 

"We weren’t getting noticed," McFarlane says, "so I was like: ‘The next person who talks about bands in Toronto without referencing us, I’m going to run up on their shit and take their money! It was just about being really aggressive. 

"We never reject comparisons to other pioneers. But, that being said, it’s time for all people to start looking for new leaders. We’re your new leaders!"

The Ends is out now.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.