The ‘Spray Q&A: Oppenheimer

Earlier in the year, we were sent word of a spiffy new band’s MySpace page. The band was called Oppenheimer, and the songs on their MySpace page have stuck in our brains ever since.

Fuzzy like Joy Zipper, warm like The Spinto Band, catchy like the H5N1 strain of bird flu, Oppenheimer are a name you’d better learn how to pronounce properly because you’ll be talking about them all the time next year.

We caught up with Shaun and Rocky from Oppenheimer for a quick chat about Belfast, eating breakfast in New York and your Mum wearing slippers to the chip shop…

Who are you, and where are you?
Shaun: Shaun Robinson, currently
typing this answer on a cold November evening in a north facing, end
terrace house in Belfast, Ireland.
Rocky: I am outside his end terrace, watching him through the window.

Why should people listen to your music?
Shaun: Because we care.
The more you listen to it, the more layers will surface and you’ll
realise that you never heard that bit before – I love music that
constantly changes every time you listen to it. Hopefully it will put a
smile on your face as well.
Rocky: I hope by listening to
Oppenheimer people can take their minds away from their worries and
just sing along for a few minutes.

How’s recording the new album going? What does it sound like? Any song titles you can let slip?
It’s all good. We’ve just finished the recording of the final track for
the album – we had five good friends down last Saturday to shout some
vocal lines in a kinda ‘mass choir’ way… I think it sounds great. The
album is pretty varied with sounds – I can’t really describe what I
think it sounds like. Recently when we’ve played album tracks live,
people have been saying that it reminds them of The Beach Boys meets
Kraftwerk meets Grandaddy meets Daft Punk which is all OK by me. Any
song titles? When I Close My Eyes, I Fall In Love.
Rocky: It’s going
really well, we are still in the game. This past summer we were
recording some drum tracks, it was around the time of all the riots and
there are loads of police helicopters all over the takes, gives it that
unique Belfast sound. Our friend David Holmes has given us loads of
really great equipment to finish off the last few tracks, old organs,
drum machines and spring reverbs. He has been very encouraging, all our
friends have. Recording these songs has been so much fun, I can’t wait
to get the album out there.

We first heard of you through your Myspace page. How important is it to be able to directly communicate with fans like that?
It’s great. Some people talk and communicate over the interweb more
than when you meet them in the ‘real world’, which I find a bit
Rocky: I love the contact with people. We’ve had so much
interest from all over the world. Being able to listen to all these
great bands instantly is brilliant, it’s the main place I find new
bands to listen to. That Tom is one smart arse alright, I bet he’s
having a money fight right now…

Have you ever had Breakfast in NYC? If so, what/where can you recommend? Or is that song based in lies?
I’ve been in NYC twice in my life so far and I’ve had quite a few
breakfasts there. There was a deli place not too far away from the
Pennsylvania Hotel I can remember getting good bagels and coffee in –
can’t remember the name though….
Rocky: There’s a nice Deli on
W42nd Street. It was right next to where I stayed, although it was
mostly too hot for Breakfast when I was there. Next time I’ll go for
pancakes & bacon.

Where is the tallest building in the world?
Shaun: Taipei, Taiwan
– it’s called Taipei 101 – you’re not going to catch Rocky at the top
of that one, him being scared of heights / flying /noodles /
non-potato related foodstuffs etc.
Rocky: Quiet you….

How’s the Belfast music scene?
Shaun: Friendly and as cold as ice
at the same time – it all feels a bit strange at times with certain
groups of the gig going public not going to a certain gig because
‘they’ are playing at it – it is quite a small city in that respect. In
my opinion, there are a few great bands out there – Lafaro, Fighting
With Wire, Patiosounds, Delaware
and Selah to name a few.
Rocky: I
think there’s a lot of talented people in Belfast, but I think they’re
all doing their own thing.There are amazing songwriters like Duke
Special, Tom McShane
and Barry Peak. There’s also a list of great bands
as well as people like No Dancing who run their own record labels,
promoting Northern Ireland to the rest of the world. There’s good local
radio, TV & magazines, it’s actually pretty pleasant when you think
about it.

Preach about something you love (not related to the band) in less than 100 words.
Colour – It’s supercool – think about it – in my Grandmother’s lifetime
we’ve gone from simple colour print to full colour video mobile phones
(did someone say Bladerunner?). It has such an impact in everyday life
– I’m re-reading George Orwell‘s 1984 and it screams ‘grey’. Just
imagine being in the movie theatre watching The Wizard of Oz and it
being the usual 1939 B&W and then the ruby red slippers kick in!
That’s going to bend anyone sideways!
Rocky: I found it hard to
choose one thing I love. I love my girlfriend, Vicky. She’s given me
the confidence to believe in myself, and that anything’s possible if
you try. She introduced me to indie pop and makes me laugh everyday. 

What’s on the Oppenheimer iPod?
Shaun: Don’t have one (yet) but
if I did I suspect there would be quite a bit of Brian Eno, My Bloody
Valentine, Pixies, Spiritualized, The Chalets, Tom Waits, Mosquitos,
Kraftwerk, The Orb, Teenage Fanclub, Aphex Twin, Red House Painters,
Boards of Canada, Angelo Badalamenti, Yo La Tengo, Halfset.
The Like Young, Architecture In Helsinki, Mates Of State, Nanook Of The
North, Guther, Les Savy Fav, Matt Pond PA, Ted Leo, Dudley Corporation,
Spinto Band,

Favourite movie soundtrack?
Shaun: It’s a difficult one this…
It would be a choice between The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her
by Michael Nyman, Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me by Angelo
and O Brother, Where Art Thou?Various Artists.
I think the only movie music that takes me back to a time and a place
is from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I watched that hundreds of
times as a kid, those songs still sound magical to me.

Motorhead have Cheese And Chive Ruffles on their rider. What’s on yours?
Cold, I repeat, cold beer, Tayto Cheese and Onion potato crisps (only
available mainly in Ireland) and good tea bags for our soundman, Gerry.
I played a show with Mogwai once and on their rider was an A4 picture
of Princess Leia from Star Wars. They got it.
Rocky: Pineapples, Cola, mash and the removal of our soundman’s tea… I want to see how he copes.

Say something rock and roll.
Shaun: "Your ma wears slippers to the chip shop." / "Is this thing on?" /"Alright brother?/!" / "Are you feeling air-horny?"
"I used to rock and roll all night and party every day, then it was
every other day, now I am lucky if I can find half an hour a week in
which to get funky" – you’re lucky you’re only getting one Simpsons

What are you going to do right now?
Shaun: Make a nice cup of tea and watch an animated French film that friends called Tom and Laura gave me yesterday.
Rocky:   ***

Go to the Oppenheimer MySpace page now. Now.

[interview by Stuart Heritage]