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Interviews Heavy Metal, Gothic Metal, Black Metal Interview- Obsessive Compulsive

Obsessive Compulsive Interview

Interviewer: Phill Bruce

Date: 6-2-11

Anger, energy, intensity, belief…these are the essential ingredients in all great rock ‘n’ roll and Manchester’s Obsessive Compulsive have them all in abundance. With their debut full-length album, Dreams Of Death & The Death Of Dreams, this young band are poised to make a huge and lasting impact on the UK rock scene and, if there’s any justice, far beyond.

Hello y’all from Obsessive Compulsive, firstly I would like to say thank you for giving us this interview for Grave Concerns.

Phill – Can I ask you all who you are and where you hail from?

OC – Kelii (vocals) and Giz (guitar) are from Manchester, Pete (bass) is originally from Portsmouth but has lived in Manchester for about 8 years and Dani (drums) is from Chester.

Phill – How did you come to the name Obsessive Compulsive?

OC (Kelii) – It was just something I had written down in a book many years ago, I have loads of notebooks that I just write things down in that come into my head, to remember them, for inspiration for songs etc, it probably would have ended up as a song title but it worked for us as a band name, we like the fact that it describes how we feel about music, we are obsessive about music and compulsive about making music, we’re very passionate about what we do, it’s an obsession and a compulsion.

Phill – What brought the band together?

OC – Kelii and Giz met at a rehearsal room in their teens, we were in different bands but eventually came to a place where we both wanted to do something new, so we started working on some songs together and it just clicked, it took us a while to find the rest of the guys, we went through a hell of a lot of time trying out bassists and drummers and even after we started putting out EPs properly as a band with Pete on bass we struggled to keep a drummer until we found Dani, we feel this is the strongest line up ever, we all love and respect each other hugely and our writing is stronger than ever and we’re all on the same page, we all work equally hard and all want to commit our entire lives to being in this band, for richer or poorer as they say!

Phill – You quote that you adhere to a DIY philosophy, can you explain this a little more to us?

OC – It’s pretty simple, don’t expect the world to do you a favour, if you want something you have to be willing to work hard at it from a grassroots perspective, we’re not saying we wouldn’t work with labels, agents, managers etc, but we don’t EXPECT anyone else to do our dirty work for us.  If you’re not willing to stand outside gigs in the rain handing out flyers, book your own tours and sort out your own recordings and sell your CDs yourself then how can you expect anyone else to make that effort.  We really just believe in hard work and determination.

Phill – What is the importance of you staying independent?

OC – It’s essential that we retain our independence as musicians and nobody tells us what direction to take our music in, and it’s important that we are fully aware of every decision we make as a band and that we are all happy with any decisions made.  We would love to continue to release our material on our own label in the UK, but it’s an expensive and time consuming game, and in some situations, there are people with more expertise, experience and ability than you, so of course we would collaborate with other industry professionals to help us get our music out there and to help us to have more time to concentrate on creating the best music we can, when you get to a certain level, it’s not as easy to stay independent, you at least need some people helping out, because you get to a point where you physically can’t deal with all the beaurocracy yourself!

Phill – In 2009 you worked with producer Russ Russell of Napalm Death fame, what do you feel working with someone of an extreme metal background and also of great experience brought to your music?

OC – Russ has a great CV, not just in extreme metal although he IS probably most famous for working with Napalm Death, he is a very intelligent, eclectic person, he loves music and has loads of ideas, he knows how to get the best out of a band in the recording process, clearly, he was very enthusiastic, he’s got a fantastic ear for melodies and harmonies, he’s just got great skills all round.  It was an honour to work with someone so brilliant and we think he helped us create the best album we had in us, we’re very proud of it.

Phill – So what is everyone’s musical influences?

OC – We’re all into so much different stuff, it’s almost impossible to sum it up, Pete loves his eighties alternative rock, he’s a huge old school thrash fan and he also loves quirky songwriters like Randy Newman and Rolf Harris!  Kelii likes loads of grunge era stuff, like STP, Pixies, Pumpkins, Soundgarden… tons of old school punk as well as a bit of the new stuff, massively melodic songwriters, hip hop, quirky amazing artists like Bowie, PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Bjork, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Kate Bush… Giz loves delta blues, flamenco and country guitar as well as loads of dark, gothy stuff like Paradise Lost, Danzig, Sisters of Mercy and then fast rock n roll bands like Supersuckers and Backyard Babies…. Loads of Riot Grrl stuff too like L7, Hole, The Breeders…. Dani is a metal head at heart, he loves techy stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan, Sikth etc, loads of 90s metal, as well as kickass British rock bands like The Wildhearts, Motorhead, Therapy… Between us we could probably list 10000 influences, which is why we think our music comes out sounding a little different and isn’t easily categorised.

Phill – How has your music evolved since you began playing together?

OC – We’ve always had our own sound which initially came from Kelii’s voice with Giz’s guitar ideas, but it has just grown and developed naturally over the years as we have written more as a band, learnt, experienced, grown, made mistakes, discovered new ways of thinking…. It’s just a very organic, natural thing, so of course it will grow and change shape as everything else in life does.

Phill – Is there a particular song that you are called on to play most?

OC – Not really, all of our songs are quite different and we get all different types of people at our shows, so everyone likes different songs, we get asked to play our older stuff quite a lot, which we do do sometimes, but we prefer to move forward and when we have new stuff we obviously want to play that the most cos it’s fresh and exciting for us.

Phill – You have been asked to play Download this year, how does this make you feel and do you think there will be any lasting effects or changes to the band?

OC – We’re extremely excited and honoured to be playing Download, we’ve all attended the festival as fans for many years and it’s quite surreal to see ourselves on the bill.  We hope it will help us to get some more exposure and maybe some exciting gigs, but to be honest, everything we’ve done has been in little gradual steps, we’ve worked hard for a good few years now and this hasn’t happened out of the blue or overnight for us, so I don’t think there will be a significant jump or change overnight in this situation either, it’s another rung on the ladder for our band.  It feels good to be building things solidly and we feel we’ve earned this.  One thing that makes it more interesting is that we’ve been asked to play the ‘acoustic’ stage, something we’ve never done before, so this will be a challenge, and for anyone seeing us the first time may be a little different than what they’d expect, so we hope people will enjoy the acoustic version as much as the heavy, energetic plugged in OC, and maybe come and catch us on tour to see us in our more natural state too!

Phill – This year you won album of the year at The Pure Rawk Awards with Death Of Dreams, many congratulations on getting the award.  Do you think this has helped increase your notoriety?  And as a band has this had any notable positive effect, such as helping you to Download?

OC – Yeah we were over the moon to win an award at the Pure Rawks, and album of the year was the best one we could have hoped for to top of an amazing year of achievements with ‘Dreams of Death…’ .  It’s always very nice to be given a pat on the back.  Nix and the team at Pure Rawk do sterling work for the underground, unsung, unsigned bands that are rocking the shit out of small venues in the UK, it’s essential that there are magazines like this featuring up and coming artists and giving a chance to bands who don’t have the financial backing or huge PR boost that big labels can provide, but are making really great music and working hard.  We have huge respect for the underground press, it’s where the true opinions on new music are, so it’s ace to be appreciated for genuine reasons

Phill – Is there anywhere you have played that has been memorable good or bad?  And is there anywhere you would like to play and why?

OC – Every gig we do is memorable, we’ve had gigs where we’ve all sat outside in the van afterwards in silence wondering what we’re doing with our lives, and we’ve had euphoric gigs where we just give each other a big kiss afterwards and tell each other how awesome they are, we’ve played the corner of a sticky pub to one man and his dog, and we’ve played huge stages to a thousand people, we’ve played shows to goths, punks, metallers, indie fans, kids, mums and dads, the other bands… We’ve supported some of our favourite artists and had some amazing, inspirational, smaller bands on the bill with us too.  We’ve played beautiful shows with our mates bands, and shows where none of the other bands even bother to say hello.  We’ve broken down on the way to and from gigs, we’ve been lost in a new town more times than I can remember, we’ve shown up to venues 4 hours away to find that it has closed down and nobody bothered to inform us, we’ve been shown huge love when we’re miles from home, we’ve argued, made up, been drunk together, thrown up together, cried together, and more than anything laughed together, we live for the road, the whole thing is one big memorable experience, the good, the bad AND the ugly.  All we really want to do is keep touring, everywhere and anywhere, for as long as possible!

Phill – Do you remember the first gig you ever played, where was it and what are you memories of that day?

OC – I remember the first gig OC played, it was at The Cavern in Exeter and I think the world cup or something was on cos we had to wait for it to finish before we could go onstage.  Bloody football!  It was a good gig from what I recall!

Phill – I’ve seen some pretty good press about you peeps out there, is there any article that sticks out in your mind?

OC – It’s nice when people say nice things and it’s a bit irritating to read bad things but we don’t tend to take any of it too seriously, it’s all just one person’s opinion after all, what matters more is that we’re making the music that we’re proud of and that people who buy the CDs and come to the gigs seem to enjoy it.  No review is ever going to match the feeling of a roomful of people singing your songs back to you at a sweaty gig.

Phill – What is the biggest challenge you have had as a band and how did you overcome this challenge?

OC – Haha, I feel a bit like a stuck record here but band life is a series of challenges, we’ve had so many ups and downs over the years it would be hard to pick some kind of champion challenge, I guess the main difficulty for us has been keeping a drummer, when your line up is incomplete it incapacitates you, so that’s just incredibly frustrating for the rest of us, but we have always just kept our heads down and kept fighting, and we’re still here!

Phill – So what are rehearsals like for you guys and how do songs get life?

OC – Rehearsals for us are fairly relaxed but we work hard, as in all areas of our band life, we’re there to nail the songs, work on tricky parts and write new material so that’s what we do!  It’s not very exciting for anyone else really, we just knuckle down!

Phill – So how do you all balance your everyday life with band life?

OC – Our everyday life IS our band life really, we all have to work jobs to support ourselves but that’s really just a means to an end, the majority of our time is spent rehearsing, writing, promoting the band, answering interview questions like this, planning tours, designing posters/flyers, flyering and postering, packaging up and posting merchandise we’ve sold online, loads of other tedious and boring stuff that involves being on the laptop all night replying to emails, then when we’re not doing all that or working to pay the rent we’re usually driving ourselves around the UK, asking to sleep on your floor, playing shows!  It’s hard to hold down (or even find) a job sometimes, because for all of us the band comes first, so the work has to be very flexible, and sometimes we don’t have time to work as much as we need to, so we’re all usually really skint!  But we love what we do, and wouldn’t change it for anything, you take the rough with the smooth.

Phill – Have you any advice for anyone who is trying to make it in the music industry?

OC – It’s a very difficult time for musicians, it depends what you mean by ‘make it’ – we don’t really think in those terms, all we do is think about the next tour, the next album etc, because gone are the days when you get picked up by some big label and become a big famous, rich rock star, we’re in it for the music, and I think you’ve got to be if you’re going to have any longevity nowadays.  If you want to be rich and famous this is the last thing I’d advise you to do as a career!

Phill – Keli have you come up against any prejudice being a woman in a male dominated industry?

OC – Oh I have the usual Neanderthal men in small pubs we’re playing telling me not to attempt to lift the heavy equipment I’ve been happily lugging in and out of vans and venues for most of my life but I just laugh at them really.  I think most music fans that come to our gigs are pretty intelligent, open minded, non-prejudiced individuals, and most of the bands we play with are too so no I don’t feel I’m treated differently, I don’t even think about it most of the time, I can look after myself if I need to,  I think because I don’t make a big deal about being a girl in a male dominated industry that it doesn’t come up as much, some girls in bands really are all about the tits and ass, which is a bit sad, I’m not interested in being like that, and that’s quite apparent to anyone who’s seen us play, so I get treated with the respect I treat myself with.  Come on!  This is 2011!  Do we really need to keep on making gender an issue?!

Phill – What’s the most embarrassing  think any member of the band had done?

OC – I think we’re all pretty shameless, other people might be embarrassed by things we have done but I don’t think any of us really care!

Phill – What’s your favourite thing to do while drunk?

OC – Dance to the Violent Femmes.

Phill – What’s your favourite drinking game?

OC – That’s not really our thing to be honest, we like a drink, but we don’t really make a game out of it, we just prefer to get messy without any rules!

Phill – What’s your favourite place to get drunk in Manchester?

OC – Probably GC, the Salisbury, Gullivers or The Castle, but wherever we’re around friends and good music really, there’s loads of great bars and pubs in Manchester we’re spoilt for choice.

Phill – Console wise what do you prefer Xbox, PS3 or Wii and what game are you playing if any?

OC – Only Dani is into this stuff so he says: PS3 all the way, and I'm playing Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops and Gran Turismo!

Phill – Does anyone have a favourite gadget, gizmo or watchyama call it?

OC – I guess that would have to be the trusty band ipod, it is a life saver on long journeys; it’s got everything from Akercocke to ZZ top!

Phill – If you were stranded on a desert island what three things could you not do without?

OC – guitar, drums, and pen and paper.

Phill – Thank you so much for giving us an interview is there anything you would like to add?

OC – I think you’ve been pretty thorough!  We’re still a very small band, releasing music completely independently, so if anyone reading this checks us out it’s awesome, and if you buy our album even better!  Thanks!

Thanks again.  See you soon

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