This is the second in a series of collaborative shows between Broken Home & I, as we aim to bring some of our favourite musicians and artist to Newbridge – of which this line up comes up trumps for both of us.
Galway trio Oh Boland are one of the brightest talents to emerge from these shores. Their early EPs are superb and their 2016 debut LP, Spilt Milk is a treasure – and one of the finest records of recent times. The trio truly provide a masterclass in raw, noisy garage pop that is ragged but irresistible, blasts of lo-fi goodness. Tunes trash, screech and rumble rumbustiously along, while brash it is, it is supremely catchy and mashed with earworm hooks. Here in lies the brilliance of their sound, traversing the space between brash and beautifully catchy. Oh Boland create something unique and special, perfection through imperfection if you will. Just superb.
Ahead of the weekend’s show I caught up with Niall from Oh Boland for a quick chat….
Tell us a little bit about Oh Boland. How did it come about? And what is the essence/inspiration behind the project?
Hi Barry, how are you? Oh Boland are three wholesome shrubs from the verdant plains of Tuam county Galway. Roughly five years ago, I was a gormless dropout working in my Dad’s pub filling swill for fossils. I’d known Simon and Eanna since we were in our teens and so when their band broke up we started hanging out a lot and playing at the weekends in Simon’s house. All of this is probably an intolerable cliché so with any unfortunate reader in mind I won’t elaborate much further. Yeah, that’s how we started playing. With regard to essence or inspiration, I’m not sure. At this point I guess we try to make drunken, poppy, noise music or noisy, drunken, pop music. Those are the three constants in our lives.
After a long time trying to make it work, we finally got you to Newbridge. Are you excited to bring the Oh Boland show to town?
My grandfather is from Newbridge so I’m really excited to get back to the flesh and blood. Stephen of course who’s putting the show on has worked with us on some videos and is a good friend, looking forward to seeing him. My memory’s useless but I’m fairly sure this is our first time playing with Silverbacks too. We have seen them a few times and they’re super good and I’m really excited to be playing with them too.
What can we expect from an Oh Boland show?
Hmmm. Tough one. I think it’s got to the point where we barely know what to expect ourselves. Expect a healthy amount of new material at this point for sure. We’ve a new LP almost ready to go and the live set is often how we get the new stuff together. Otherwise, you can expect a slobbery gurgling bubble-gum punk mess. There’ll be a lot of oohs and aahs and unnecessary soloing. We’ll inevitably end up sounding like a cranked up showband trying to play the national anthem, slowly going down with the ship.
On the issue of touring, you toured the US last year; it would be interesting to hear your perspective on the differences (if any) between touring Ireland and the US?
I suppose it’s the same landscape you have to navigate in both instances. Ireland is way more manageable relatively speaking because it’s such a short run. It’s the blatantly obvious issue of size I suppose. In Ireland there are really only four or five towns to play all within four hours of each other. With America or the UK, you’re looking at stupid ferry routes, 13 hour drives etc. It only takes one day or one hour to break you when you’re crammed into a car with three people fermenting at a rapid pace with little food or sleep. I love touring though. For all the brutality you get to play every night which is the ultimate reward as well as meet every manner of sweetheart and weirdo the particular town has to offer. That makes the bodily aromas and marathon roadtrips easier to swallow for sure.
You’ve shared the bill with a number of legendary bands such as the Sonics and The Undertones, did they offer any sage advice or words of wisdom? What was it like to be that close to the origins of punk?
We’ve been really lucky over the last few years to be able to play with a lot of groups that have influenced us a lot over the years. Though none of the groups we’ve played with really spoke to us that much watching them play at such close quarters was more than enough. Standing barely off the stage watching Gerry Roslie scream is something I never thought I’d ever see.
In my humble opinion, Split Milk is one of the finest records of recent years. Tell us a wee but about making the album and were you happy with how it was received?
Thanks man. Glad you like it. At this point Spilt Milk is actually quite an old record in terms of the recordings themselves. We did the whole thing over Halloween weekend 2014 amazingly. The record was made with our long standing saviour Mark Chester of Ginnels, No Monster Club and Lie Ins fame. Everything since Delphi we’ve done with him and he’s always been really easy to work with. He listens to the same stuff as us and knows how we want to sound and how to get there. As for our approach to recording we like to do it pretty quick. This is mainly due to money and time, between getting time off work and not being able to fork out heavy currency for a studio. It also has a lot to do with the sound and performances too, to be able to just bash them out really quick with little time to be precious and second guess what you’re doing. I think though there is obviously a difference between onstage and recording the heart of a recording has to maintain a similar energy to the performances onstage. The heart of everything is cut live. The three of us in a room trying to wobble through the tune as best we can. I’ll add some extra guitars and that’s it. We do most of our recording as of late out in a cottage in Carraroe out in the wilderness. So that was it, two days out there running through the ten tunes and out the door again, sadly nothing worthy of a BBC4 documentary.
As for the reactions to the LP, yeah I’m fairly pleased. We are all really happy with how the record sounds and the experience making it and though I can’t really get my head around it people have been into it and that’s been really nice.
For me anyway, the brilliance of the Oh Boland sound is it simultaneously traverses a space between brash and beautifully catchy – is this a conscious thing or did it just sort of happen?
I suppose it’s somewhat conscious, a reflection of the weird extremes in our record collections. There was never a conscious decision to cross this with that. We were just bashing out what felt good in Simon’s garage. We all love 60’s music and 70’s power pop music. So you definitely have that element, but on the other hand we also love really loud abrasive sounds and it needs to be said that we’re also pretty sloppy musicians, particularly when we were starting out. So I suppose we started unwittingly trying to resolve the two extremes in the music and being so loose as musicians it just sort of came out the way it came out. As we’ve become tighter together musically it’s become more of a conscious thing.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I am listening to The World, Flesh World, Day Creeper, The Cowboys, the new Protomartyr LP, Rays, Arthur Russell, The Necessaries, Game Theory and Terry Allen in that order.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017 and 2018? Can we expect a new record soon?
We’ve a lot planned for next year. We are planning some trips over to the UK and a European tour in late spring as well as a return to the US late in the summer. We’ve also got a new LP almost finished which is going to be called Cheap Things and you can expect that sometime in the summer too.
And lastly, in all the interviews you’ve done is there anything you’re eager to address but no one ever asks you?
I can’t really think of anything right now. Leave that one with me.