Really, all you need to know about The OBGMs – or the Ooh Baby Gimme Mores, if you’d care to use their formal title – is spelled out by the bio affixed to their Soundcloud page. “This Toronto-based punk rock quartet’s sole purpose is to melt faces on the dance floor,” reads the small blurb of text underneath their name.
To be fair, they’re not doing a bad job of rising to the challenge. Starting off life as a hip-hop production team, the Canadian four-piece gradually expanded their musical horizons, and morphed into the punk-rock noiseniks you hear today – though hip-hop is still a key ingredient in everything they do. The result is an exuberant brand of punk rock and buoyant live performances – or as they put it, the fact that they “slay on wax [and] slay live”.
We catch up with the band to find out more about the band, their forthcoming self-titled debut album, and what they have lined up for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
Denz: “Denz: lead vocals, guitar, lyricist. Cola: drums and keys. Joseph: bass, backing vocals. Jem: keys, backing vocals. The band is based in Toronto, Ontario.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
Denz: “Colanthony and I were originally a hip-hop production team and we were looking to expand our horizons because everyone and their grandma were rappers. We met through our sisters, who went to the same high school. We started The OBGMs and added Jem and Joe at later dates. After crushing Jem’s former band in a battle of the bands, we decided to bring him on board. We met Joe at a restaurant and he overheard that we needed a bassist. He lied to us and said he was a bassist.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
Denz: “Each band member has extremely diverse tastes in music. When the band started, there just were not a lot of popular black artists playing alternative music. I was looking to N*E*R*D, The Carps and Prince as inspiration. First rock concert I ever went to was AfroPunk alumni named The Carps.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“F With This / Dirty Heavy Fuzz / Old Negro Spiritual.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
Joe: “We’re special because we never really discuss what kind of shit we want to make. We’re a bunch of guys from different backgrounds that got in a room together and made just about whatever the hell we wanted to perform.”
Jem: “With each member coming from dramatically different musical backgrounds, our sound comes together in a very unique way.”
Denz: “Outside of the obvious that we got three scoops of chocolate and one vanilla? We slay on wax, we slay live.”
Your self-titled debut album is out in September. Can you tell us a little more about it – what’s it about, and what are its themes?
Denz: “The album deals with life, love, and failure. It was written in a really tumultuous time in my life and each of the tracks were written as therapy.”
What drew you to the themes you cover on the album?
Cola: “Grit, dirt, and our sound in particular were the themes. Scratching out the eyes [as on the album’s cover art] came from us playing poke in France. The answers are in the eyes. Showing what we are fully capable of in our first release?! Nah, we got more bangers.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
Joe: “Denz says ‘Yo, Joe, here’s the song – you can’t listen to it yet ‘cause you’re at work. But after you close at 4am, I’m gonna need you to lay down a bass line. ‘K bro? See you at 8am. Nah wait, I’ll stroll in at like 2pm. But you gotta be there first though to lay down the scratches.”
Denz: “Sitting in my room after another sleepless drunken night on the verge of tears because I need to finish the lyrics to Torpedo and I’m not feeling it yet. Getting dumped for the umpteenth time by a girl I used to deal with and realising that I feel so much better when she’s away. There you have it.”
Are there any more singles or videos to look forward to before the album’s released?
The OBGMs: “We are looking forward to the release of two more singles from The OBGMs. Beat Up Kidz, directed by Ryan Enn Hughes, and Ijuswannaluveuallthetime, directed by Philip Sportel. Both of these videos are visual gems.”
What do you hope people will take away from the album, and your music in general?
Denz: “The thing I love about music is that everyone will take away their own interpretation of the art. I hope people connect with it and are ready for what’s to come.”
Joe: “I hope people are in some small way given a new appreciation of rock music and all that it expresses. People only seem to be embracing rock music as an afterthought – or worse yet, using its imagery solely for fashion and not actually experiencing it. For people, they seem to enjoy it, so I guess we are on the right direction. We are a fun band that are easy to get into. I just want people to dance, bang their heads, and maybe reflect [on] a pissed off lyric or two.”
Jem: “I hope our idea that music doesn’t need to be categorised into specific boxes will resonate with all those that listen to it. The lines of genre were made to be crossed and rules should always be broken.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
Denz: “Touching down in Iceland. Our first European show date. It was surreal to be in a completely new country for something I love.”
Joe: “Surfing with my guitarist at the same time in a beautiful city that I’ve never been to. Playing songs that people haven’t heard yet – but they have lost their minds [to]. We probably didn’t play one correct note amidst all the chaos, but it was that moment that I felt the most peace in life.”
Jem: “Doing a healthy 170 on the Autobahn. Driving stick. Feels like need for speed underground. Riders on the storm ft Snoop Dogg.”
You played Afropunk earlier this year. What’s the significance of the event to you?
Denz: “Afropunk paid attention to us when NO ONE paid attention to us and they invited as to AP FEST 2009. We are forever grateful to our day-one homies. Big shout out to Matthew Morgan. Afropunk is just the greatest Festival top to bottom. You get people from a diverse community in an inclusive environment for the love of music. It is truly a place where you can be free from the “isms” and live in the love.”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
The OBGMS: “Taking the future and putting it in our pocket.”
Cola: “New music, touring, re-proving that you should mess with us.”
Jem: “Connecting with new fans, making new friends, exploring countries I haven’t checked off the bucket list.”
The OBGMs’ debut album, The OBGMs, will be released on 8th September via Black Box Records.