O. Are Embracing The Weird On “WeirdOs”

O. Interview by Ben Lock for Northern Transmissions
"WeirdOs" Album Artwork

Speedy Wunderground are back with a hot new South london based band O. A two piece Post punk instrumental outfit that blends Post Punk, Hip Hop, And trip hop together to make massive sounding music just using Drums and Baritone Saxophone. Northern Transmissions talk to the band about Their new record WeirdOs, recent tours, covering Taylor Swift, and pushing themselves to make the biggest sound possible.

NT: The track order flows seamlessly and builds tension quite like one of your live shows. Was the track order informed by workshopping setlists at gigs or was it put together after it was recorded?

Joe: It is like a gig, we thought of it like being at one of our shows, if you see us live we like to link tunes together and not necessarily have all our rock tunes together and not necessarily have all the rock and hip hop tunes together, we wanna switch it up and feel like a natural progression. We recorded it all very live and we did even record some of the songs playing in to each other.

NT: You can definitely hear that, It flows exactly like one of your live sets while also existing cohesively on the album. I Hear You were working with Dan Carey on this album, I’m curious to know what that process was like and how your relationship with Dan came about?

Tash: We met Dan through Black Midi who we did our first tour with. And they basically told us the most amazing things about Dan, That He just gets it, you go in the studio with him and he just gets it straight away. One of the biggest reasons we get along so well with Dan is that he really wants us to just go into the studio and treat it like a gig, and that is Definitely where we play our best. He really creates a live feel within the studio as well, he has a laser machine and a smoke machine which makes it feel very similar to a gig. And also he is just pretty weird like us. There were tons of moments where we were in the studio and were like ah it just doesn’t sound weird enough we need to make it sound even weirder which made it a really natural pairing I think.

NT: When you were touring with Black Midi did you have no music out at the time?

Joe: Yeah that’s right.

NT: What was that experience like debuting material during an opening spot like that?

Joe: Nerve wracking

Tash: It was pretty scary.

Joe: But It definitely was a good way of getting rid of nerves, we built confidence as we did it and watching Black Midi every night definitely had an effect on our music. The tracks “Whammy” and “Sugarfish” off the record are two tracks that we were playing back then and they are the only two from that original set that survived.

NT: “Sugarfish” is one of my favorite songs off the record. I love how it evolves. Was that figured out by doing Improvisation?

Tash: That song came out of us just improvising in our studio. But I think when we’ve played it live it’s been mostly set but we have kind of extended it because we’ve been playing it for a few years now. The album version is an extended version of how we have played it. It’s always had Joe doing semi improvised solos in the middle before it builds into its final drop. It’s kind of similar to a lot of Black Midi’s stuff. They have all of these rigid song structures but there is always room in them for improvisation.

NT: You guys have also recently toured with Gilla Band and are about to do your first headlining tour as well as some bigger festivals. Are you preparing differently for these shows?

Joe: A little bit yeah. I don’t mean to talk about nerves all the time but when we started out we were really nervous but as we got more confident we got really into being the support band and by the time we were doing the tour with Gilla band and had played some headline shows we realized being the support is so much fun because there is way less pressure. We also really love playing to a room of people that don’t know what to expect. It’s quite a magical thing and they look at us and let’s be honest they think like are these two going to make any sort of racket? And then we start and there like fuck, fair play. Hopefully. Doing the headline shows and summer festivals it does feel like there’s more pressure but we love that as well. We just did our first big festival show in Spain this weekend and we played at like midnight until one in the morning. And when you do those shows you got to play all the upbeat bangers really. There are little moments of chill but we are trying to do more of a danceable set at a show like that.

NT: Sorry to keep asking questions about playing live, but I know the band has played a lot at the windmill and had a residency there at one point. How has playing there affected your music on this album and the band in general?

Tash: One thing that all the bands that have come out of playing at the Windmill have in common is that they’re all quite genre blending. I think that’s something we got really into when we were playing at the Windmill was like were going to play this tune that’s more rocky but then were going to go into this like drum n bass section at the end or having a song that’s more jazzy but then becomes more like trip hop towards the end of the song. I think if you look at Squid, Black Midi, Shame and all the other Windmill bands that’s something they all do as well. It’s also just a really creative venue and a lovely space. We’re really lucky to come out of there honestly.

NT: Another one of my favorite songs off the record is “Green Shirt.” I love all of the motifs and riffs that sound quite similar to a fuzzed out guitar or bass sound. Can you talk a bit about the use of effects on your saxophone on the songs?

Joe: Oh yeah, it’s actually just a guitar.

NT: Really?

Joe: I’m just joking. It’s my saxophone through a harmony pedal that makes a fifth and an octave which is just like a power chord through loads of different fuzzes and amps that Dan has in the studio. On that song we did a cool production thing where Tash was playing the clap stack cymbal and I was going through all of the amps and it started to sound all fucked up and heavy and we thought it would be a cool idea to run the drum tracks through the same amp setup after to add even more distortion and noise which sounded quite cool.

NT: I love the music video for that song as well.

Joe: Tash made that

NT: No way, is that your dog?

Tash: It’s Dan Carey’s dog Poppy, who is an absolute teddy bear.

Joe: She was genuinely in the studio the whole time and was a big part of the recording process. There would be a slump of energy and then Poppy would come in and everyone would get excited. Big Ups to Poppy for that.

NT: I’ve seen some videos of you covering “Athens, France” by Black Country, New Road which goes really hard. I love that cover. Has learning covers been a sense of inspiration for the band is that something you continue to do with your sets or is it just a spur of the moment thing.

Tash: When we started we played along to a lot of Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead and a lot of dub. That definitely helped us write songs and think about our instruments differently. We always like to sneak a cheeky cover into the set. We have been working on a Taylor Swift cover for our recent tour but the “Athens, France” cover always gets people dancing late at night so that one appears in the set a lot.

NT: How does the collaboration with influences work for you guys as a band and friends in general.

Tash: I would say rock is the main thing that we share in terms of groups that were into hip hop as well artists like A Tribe Called Quest. Karriem Riggins Is maybe the musician that we both love the most. We also have a lot of influences on our own. Joe introduced me to a lot of Dub. I didn’t know a lot of dub so if we’re covering a dub tune that’s from him. If we’re covering a cheesy pop tune that’s usually from me. I listen to a lot of Billie Eilish and Taylor swift.

Joe: We used to do what’s his face? He’s Canadian.

Tash: Justin Bieber.

Joe: I picked that one. I like some pop too. Tash has introduced me to a lot of electronic music like Floating Points and Radiohead and Thom Yorke’s more electronic stuff. We listen to a lot of Lil Simz and recently this American artist JW Francis.

NT: Because this is your first album I’m sure you have been working on these songs for a while, have you had the chance to sneak in some new material for the live set?

Tash: We’ve got like, two or three new songs in the set now mostly just because we didn’t release music for so long we have been playing them for quite a while. Some of the songs on the album like “Green Shirt” are quite techy and difficult to play live so it’s actually still fun playing them after all this time because we are still perfecting them and getting them right.

Joe: The song “Slap Juice” I think we have only played live once or twice because it’s just so hard but I think we’re going to try to bust it out when we tour the album. “Cosmo” for me is a bit on the edge of what my feet can do on the pedalboard. I start tripping over during that one.

NT: There are so many effects going during the set and you are both carrying so much ground in terms of sonics. Is that a big thing you have to focus on in life?

Joe: With the effects, it is important for it not to be the dominant focus. We want the acoustic instruments to be the focus because we genuinely like playing our instruments and and playing them with intention and purpose is what’s key. The effects are definitely a big part of it but sometimes they go a bit wrong but we kind of like that. That’s kind of cool. There’s a kind of randomness to it. That’s why we don’t play with computers or backing tracks. We want it to sound like two people pushing themselves as hard as they can. Tash sounds like three drummers most of the time without effects on, which is pretty cool. I have a bunch of pedals and amps to help. A big thing that we love about playing in this band is that limitation. There is just two people pushing it as far as they can to make the biggest sound possible.

Pre-order WeirdOs HERE.


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