The guys in Dublin Ireland’s Otherkin would like the word Britpop to not even be equated to their explosive sound – after all they are from Ireland- lets at least charm in a little Thin Lizzy, Bell X1 and maybe even The Frames if we’re going in that direction. Maybe its just wishful thinking of some Euro rock revival, as the electric guitars have lost its headlining status to hobo acoustic instrument wannabees of late. So haaving already supported the likes of Palma Violets, POND & Parquet Courts, Otherkin spent the majority of November impressing on the live UK circuit with their own headline tour.
After a couple of hand-made, self-released releases, Otherkin hit their stride with the rambunctious grunge-pop single “Ay Ay”, which came to the attention of leading Irish indie label Rubyworks (home of Hozier, Rodrigo y Gabriela) in early 2015. The 201EP – their debut outing for Rubyworks – features four songs that might just be as bold a debut statement as you can find- four cut to the chase rock anthems that reek of big sound and big attitude. Having just played the acclaimed Irish late night TV series Other Voices, the band spoke to Glide about the present and the future of a band that might be one of the front-runners for an almost obligatory rock revival.
It’s been said your sound is helping rejuvenate Britpop. Would you agree and do you even like the term Britpop? What bands from that era are you fans of?
It’s a weird one for us. Britpop was massively successful when we were growing up so I suppose its influence has always surrounded us but I wouldn’t consider us to be huge fans of the genre. I also wouldn’t attach the label to our music even though it has surfaced in plenty of reviews and articles about us; hell, we’re not even British! I think it’s difficult to objectively describe your own music even though a casual listener can throw around influences and sound-a-likes within a minute of hearing one of your tracks. There were some great Britpop bands though, the four of us find a lot of common ground with Blur.
Since you have an EP that has taken off how do you look at these song s differently from when you first started on them to where they are now?
Definitely, but I’m not sure how much of that is to do with how the EP was received, more so due to the fact that my relationship with our songs tends to change over time and moods anyway. It’s an odd thing to listen back over to something that you produced in the past. I’m really happy with how the EP turned out; we set out trying to construct a certain aesthetic to the songs and I think we definitely produced it.
How many more songs do you have ready to go and what has been the songwriting creative process behind making new music?
We’ll be putting out a new EP in March so keep an eye out for that. The songwriting process can vary between songs but typically someone will play a riff during one of our rehearsals and we’ll all chip in and develop that idea until it forms the skeleton of a song. Then we kick it around for a longer time until it feels complete!
What type of record would you describe your debut full length to be when you record it? What records from your listening past would you also categorize in a similar way and what do you hope the listener to get out of that record?
We want the record to be punchy, lean and blazing. 30-35 minutes, straight in, no kissing. It’s gonna be a bit rough, a bit sexy and overall a ton of fun. Big guitars, big hooks and big heart. We hope that the listener can connect to the record, to the spirit of fun and the spirit of youth. Touchstones for us are the essential debut records like Is This It or Murmur. A debut record has to be a statement record and you only get one shot at it.
For people not familiar with your music, how would you describe what the band goes for creatively lyrically verse musically? Do you find lyrics to be at the forefront of your sound or most serving as another sound in itself kind of complementing the energy of your urgent sound?
Yeah, I think that our lyrics (and especially the delivery of the lyrics) complement and reflect the urgency of the music surrounding them. They moreso serve the sound of the song as opposed to the sentiment but we do spend a lot of time trying to convey a message or emotion and there’s certainly something to find for people who are willing to listen to and dissect what’s being said.
I hear a lot of Strokes in your sound, how much of an influence are they for modern bands? Who are your primary influences for legacy acts?
A huge amount of current bands who owe their existence to the Strokes and they were definitely an entry point to music for a few of us in the band. Our influences tend to be the great guitar bands; artists like the Clash, Ramones right up to more current acts like QOTSA and Radiohead.
What is the greatest misconception people have had of Otherkin over the years?
Some of the musical comparisons that people draw, The Hives and the Vines especially. I can see why the comparisons might be made but it’s a bit lazy. We’ve got plenty to offer and we’re unique enough to stand on our own, that’s what we’re keen to prove with our upcoming releases.
Thoughts about the wave of rock star deaths of late, particularly David Bowie. Did that one hit hard for you as well?
It did. I can’t say that any of us are huge Bowie obsessives but even so it’s difficult to deny the massive cultural impact that he had. We was a true icon of pop music: intelligent, innovative, sexy and wildly talented. Undoubtedly one of the most important performers to have ever graced the stage and that fact was vibrantly palpable in the days following his death.