Interviews

The OBGMs Talk Polaris Prize, Being Leaders of a Post-Apocalyptic Cult and how Certified Lover Boy is a ‘Classic’

The Toronto-based punk band weigh in on The Ends and the importance of taking advantage of their platform.

By: Sun Noor

The OBGMs (Oooh Baby Gimme Mores) are undoubtedly among the most compelling punk acts, as they get right to the point. In fact, they describe their sound as “If Bad Brains and Nirvana and Bad Brains had a UK baby raised in Toronto,” which is could be accurate when considering their fast-paced, striking and aggressive sound and their direct and unapologetic tone when speaking their truth. Their latest record, The Ends has been shortlisted for this year, which does not come to a surprise for the band, given what went into this record. I caught up with the band’s frontman Densil Mcfarlane and drummer Colanthony Humphrey before their show at FME earlier this month for a chat.


Is this your first time at FME? How has it been so far?

Densil: “We just pulled up. Nice quiet town. I honestly appreciate shows like this that are off the beaten path because they tend to be tend to be the better ones.”

The Ends

It’s coming close to one year since The Ends has been out. Congratulations on your Polaris Prize nomination as well. How do you feel about that?

Densil: “So the album almost didn’t get made a lot and it wouldn’t have gotten made without this guy right here Colanthony Humphrey, the drummer of the band. He pulled me aside one day took me out for drinks I thought it was real special day. And then he yelled at me.”

Cola: “I think was particularly funny about that day. He said, ‘if you’re trying to talk to me about music, it better not be that. Then the first thing I said when the drink got set in front of us is ‘What the fuck is happening? Are you okay?’ pretaining to music.”


Densil: “I was going through some shit where I wasn’t able to write songs and honestly that kind of put a fire under me to do songs again. A lot of people along the way didn’t believe in this record.”

Cola: “A lot of people didn’t believe in the band as well. And like how sacrilege is that.”

Densil: “Listen, we told you from the top we were gonna get a Polaris nomination and now they need to give it to us. I didn’t expect the shortlist, but now that they’ve put us in the shortlist, they have to just give it to us.”

“Cash: by The OBGMs

Have you been working on anything new since?

Densil: “Yeah, for sure. Right now we’re just collecting sounds. So we’re good to go in studio, mid October with Dave Schiffman again. We’re gearing up for next year. We have a couple of big announcements coming up and I think like the world is ours, it’s time you know.

It’s ending soon so

Cola: “Might as well take it over, with the hard hand of authority.”

Densil: “I’ve always wanted to be the leader of a post apocalyptic town. You know when you start your cults or gangs and you start taking over the city?”

Cola: “start wearing human skulls with the flesh still on it.”

Yes and with the swords

Densil: “That’s what The Ends is about!”

Like we said before, the world is in a very fucked up situation right now and is only getting worse, does that inspire you in any way?

Densil: “Honestly, if there’s for one thing in the last 18 months, I don’t think we lack any inspiration for the topics of new music. The world is piece of shit. And it definitely is not improving. However, I think what this period of time has taught me is that life is actually bigger than just music. This platform is bigger than just music. If there’s something that we can do with the platform beyond just playing our own songs for you to listen to and sell them to you, we can do something bigger and bring attention to something. We are the only black people in this band making this rock music. And honestly, a lot of times in this industry it’s not really accepted or promoted for a lot of different systemic reasons that we won’t get into. Now that we’re here and we have platform, I think it’s our responsibility to do that.”

It’s true because like black people kind of paved the way for all music.

Densil: “Maybe not polka, we probably didn’t have a hand in that. It’s fire though.”

Since we’re at a festival, what would you say would be like your best memory either playing or attending?

Densil: I think Osheaga is the best festival in the world. You’re eating lobster with Oscar winner Amy has

Cola: “Iceland Airwaves is fire, Afropunk, in the UK and in Paris for sure. Brooklyn is also cool but particularly in Paris would be a highlight.”

Densil: “Festivals are cool because you get to see a bunch of different types of music. I think the only stressful thing about festivals is who do I have to see and what hard decisionI have to make if these guys are both playing at 8. What am I supposed to do? That’s what I don’t like.”

Especially places like Osheaga because it’s like a 30 minute walk from like one stage to the other.

Cola: “I got to yell at Tyler, the Creator that I’ve been listening to him for a long time and he said ‘thank you bro’ which was pretty cool.”

Densil: “I tried to shake Mos Def’s hand and he said ‘leave me alone’.”

Cola: “Mos Def smells exactly like you would think he does like incense, oils and stuff.”

Over the years we’ve seen more black musicians continuing that tradition of black punk music such as The Muslims, Big Joanie as well as more newcomers. Would you consider this movement to be inspiring in any way?

Densil: “We started in 2007 and it’s nice that as we go more onto the forefront, it’s super important to inspire a generation of people watching music because representation matters. And the reason why I became in this band because I saw a black guy on the stage, doing the shit that was likely from an island and that really pushed me over the edge to do this. Now that you got the Muslims, Nova twins, Oxymorrons, Troi Irons, King Youngblood and so many more bands doing this, the list goes on. I’m saying my whole move this year was to learn about every single one of them and promote them because they’re just as good as any other band that’s not being promoted. It’s wonderful thing to see and it’s only gonna get bigger.”

Lastly, what are you guys listening to at the moment?

Cola: “Certified Lover Boy!”

Densil: “Certified Lover Boy! It’s the new Donda. I’ve been listening to Nova Twins a lot recently. Oxymorrons, Troi Irons, Bartees Strange, and Joncro as well.”

Cola: “I’ve been listening to a lot of Westside Gun.”

Densil: “You know who had one of the best albums? Barry Paquin Roberge.They’re here this weekend. If you haven’t heard that album, it’s one of my favourites that has come out most recently and it’s fire. No skips right next to Certified Lover Boy!

Listen to The Ends here.

The 2021 Polaris Prize winner will be revealed on September 27th at 8pm via CBC Music.

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