Team RAM went down to The Independent in Sunderland a few weeks back to speak to OPM on their 13th anniversary UK tour. Interviewer Neale Greever talks to the band about what it feels like to be playing their hits eleven years since their original release as well as what they think about the rise in popularity of reggae/ska genre.
How are you today?
How was the journey here?
Really easy, not bad yeah. We were a little drunk from last night but other than that, it’s an easy trip.
We’ll y’know, rock stars! So you looking forward to the gig tonight?
Oh yeah it’s a Friday night so should be good.
This is the lucky thirteen tour and it marks your thirteenth anniversary as a band, why did you do thirteen years and not fifteen or twenty or even ten?
(laughs) we would have done ten but we couldn’t get it together (laughs). I dunno, we actually started recording, we have a new EP out it’s called ‘Heaven can wait’ and it’s got some re-records and kind of the reason why we did that was because when we recorded our first record we did ‘heaven is a halfpipe’ and [..] we didn’t actually plan a show together. So the only really personal [..] was jeff playing the guitar and we were all making pizza. But y’know when we’re touring and playing all those songs live y’know we always had a drummer and all musicians and stuff so the songs have grown into something else and they have a new life so we wanted to record those. So we moved into a studio that was like a rehearsal space that was loosely a studio and we tried to start recording in there and it wasn’t working out so we decided to take some time out and ultimately we were planning on doing a ten year thing but actually the tenth year slipped past us, we didn’t even realise. When we started doing the math work we were like “oh yeah it’s eleven years” so we missed the boat on that one. And then we started to do these recordings and the studio wasn’t happening and we weren’t happy with what we were getting out of there so we decided to build our own studio and, me and matt, we built literally from the ground up in my garage. So we finally got that built in which took two years and we finished up those recordings and it took us to thirteen years and we decided as that was meant to be an unlucky number we’d just roll with it.
Has been lucky for you so far or has it been unlucky?
No it’s definitely been lucky. We kind of look at it as like thirteen years is such a long time especially for a band so we really do feel really blessed that we’re still able to do this.
Your new EP is called ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is that a reference to your biggest hit ‘Heaven Is A Half Pipe’?
Yes we y’know we started recording the song and we were like “let’s get this out” and also it was like a couple years passed by and we were like “ah heaven can wait.”
So ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ was probably your biggest hit, at least in the UK, do you still like playing it now or is it just like “ah here we go again” or is it “we love doing this song because people love it”?
Yeah it’s definitely a little bit of both of those. We definitely feel grateful to have had that song and that’s really the reason why we’re coming here, y’know if we didn’t have that song..y’know no one would care. We feel really happy to come and play it and yeah it does feel amazing and we’ll do our set and we project a certain energy that we try and bring that California [..] we live in California so we kind of bring that vibe where people get that vibe and they feel kind of sort of hypnotised by that but when we hit them with ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ the energy in the room goes completely mad. I mean if you think that song came out here eleven years ago so..
Everyone we’re meeting is like “ahh it’s eleven years old”
And their like our age and they were same age we were at that time and it’s like…it’s kinda cool.
Did you think it was going to be a big hit when you recorded it or did you think it was gonna be another album track?
I think we kinda knew. I think at the time we kinda thought everything we did was going to be a huge hit (laughs).
The first thing we did was ‘Better Days’ and we thought that was a massive slam dunk hit and then we did a couple others that we’re like “yeah whatever” and then we did Heaven [Is A Halfpipe] and I dunno even the demo people were like that’s gonna be…even our friends who were musicians were like you guys are assholes cos you guys are gonna blow out and we got that feeling about it.
Do you think that sort of music is coming back like that reggae/ hip hop infused rock stuff?
Yeah in America it’s huge.
There’s a whole scene of reggae rock bands and they’re like selling out amphitheatres and stadiums and I mean some of the bands are some of the biggest touring acts right now and I remember playing clubs with them [..] and its mind blowing.
There wasn’t even a name for our genre until just recently and its now called like reggae rock and people were kind of mulling over naming the genre for years and years but like Sublime they came from the kind of ska, American ska whatever you want to call it… scene and they kind of mulled it into what is now reggae rock but it wasn’t named that at the time. And slightly stupid kind of came from that and there wasn’t that much of that sort that was around, there wasn’t even enough to sort of name the genre.
The Police maybe..
Yeah I mean The Clash were doing it and The Police were doing it but back then people were a bit more open minded because there wasn’t so much competition whether they were a rock band or pop band but yeah The Police and The Clash definitely set the formula for what we do.
Interviewer: Neale McGreever.