The OBGMs are putting attitude back into punk as they blend modern touches with old school aesthetic. We chat to frontman Densil McFarlane about starting out, recording their latest single and he shares stories from the road and a ridiculously good playlist.
Words: Renette van der Merwe
Tell us a little about yourself. Where the name came from, how long you’ve been going for and anything else new fans would want to know.
The OBGMs are a black-fronted punk band from Toronto. The full-band name is ‘The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores’ and it came to me in a dream. There were large screens lit up behind us with the name in red and the audience was chanting the name.
We’ve been the neighbourhood arsonists lighting stages up for a bit more than a decade. We are about love and unity. We actively use our platform to uplift other BIPOC fronted bands who aren’t regularly lifted in mainstream culture. Outside of that, we are the Steve Jobs’ of the punk stuff and you should tune it. I feel we sit on the Iron Throne.
Early memories of music include Beach Boys, ABBA and Boney M for us. Can you share your very first memory of music?
I remember discovering Nirvana for the first time. I would go to my room and scream the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit into my pillow. Rock music in the black community was a bit taboo and I would have to hide my affection to avoid being teased by my friends.
My mother told me ‘Two of Hearts’ by Stacey Q was my favourite song as a toddler. She would put it on to get me to stop crying.
Who are some artists that you’d love to collaborate with?
Being from Toronto, I’d like to work with Drake and do something really cool across genres. Please advise him to call me.
I’d also want to work with Pharell, Jay- Z, Beyonce, Troi Irons, Danny Denial, Timbaland, and of course Missy ‘Misdemeanour’ Elliot. Please forward the message.
What’s your favourite story from a live show so far?
So many fun stories, I’d have to name a couple.
We were on tour in Dresden opening for a band named Mando Diao. In the city, there were bi-weekly nazi marches and we got there the day after one. I remember how far Mando Diao went out of their way to make sure that we were doing well and to keep us inside after the show. After the show, a fan came up to talk to us and straight up told us about 50% of the audience were active in the PEGIDA movement; however, The OBGMs were ‘not that bad.’ The German compliment.
My favourite show we’ve played was Afropunk Paris. We had like 1,000 people alternating between moshing and doing the butterfly in the audience. It felt like home.
“The result is an exuberant brand of punk rock and buoyant live performances”
You’ve just released ‘Not Again’. What were some of the most fun and also the most challenging aspects of recording both the song and video?
Writing music is deeply personal and I’ve struggled to communicate my true self on a record because of confidence. Writing down the feelings of shame, insecurity, and anxiety I deal with was hard for me. “Will people like this?” “Can I deal with it if they don’t?” “Am I ready to reveal this?” In this process, I found freedom from caring what people think.
After I shed that fear, the creative process was amazing. We got to work with Stefan Babcok (PUP) and Dave Schiffman (The Bronx, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and they gave us invaluable advice. Their guidance really helped me grow as a songwriter.
Getting things done safely, on short notice, for a video shoot during the global pandemic was challenging. Have to give a big shout out to our manager Ian Stanger and director Philip Stirling for making it work.
On Friday we said, “we need a video,” on Monday we shot the video, and the next Friday it was out.
Settle an argument for us (and the rest of the world) pineapple on pizza?
You can have whatever pizza you want if you give me Justice for Breonna Taylor and our comeuppance.
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Rising to the challenge, The OBGMs have put together an electrifying collection of songs that best encapsulates the artists and music that inspire them as a band.
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