Interview with The OBGMs vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane | By Zackary Miller
The OBGMs’ vocalist and guitarist Densil McFarlane has some experience with the surreal. His band—once two members, now four, including drummer Colanthony Humphrey, bassist Joe Brosnan, and keys player Jemuel Roberts—originated in the Toronto underground almost a decade ago. Now, they start mosh pits at “Italian Vogue”—at least that’s how McFarlane remembers the atmosphere at AFROPUNK FEST Paris in July. Even though wisps of success have found The OBGMs—like appearing in Budweiser’s Made for Music campaign—they often find themselves on the brink.
Death to The OBGMs will be the title of the group’s forthcoming new album, as revealed by McFarlane. It will follow the international release of their self-titled album—remixed by Dave Schiffman—on Sept. 8 via Black Box Music. “All independent artists deal with this eternal struggle,” he says. “‘If I don’t make this move […] or make this hit, is it going to be the death of The OBGMs?’ Everything we do can lead to the death of The OBGMs. So, fuck it. Kill ‘em off.”
However, The OBGMs—or The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores—currently seem to be on solid footing. McFarlane praises their new label, Black Box, and insists the partnership will give them more freedom to do the one thing they love more than anything else: performing live. They returned to the AFROPUNK FEST stage in London on July 22 and 23, and will do so again in Atlanta on Oct. 14 and 15.
“We make our best effort to make sure the people watching us are entertained,” McFarlane says. “If that means, at every single festival, I need to jump off the big, tall-ass stage and run into the audience, that’s what I’ll do. That’s Osheaga [Festival in Montreal], that’s Made In America [in Philadelphia], that’s Ottawa Bluesfest, that’s AFROPUNK Paris. Every single time, I will jump off stage and get with the people.”
As they prepare for this new wave of festivals, a coming European tour, and the aforementioned release of Death to The OBGMs, McFarlane continues his push to further diversify the band’s sound.
Their single, “Torpedo,” recently premiered with a new music video. The track heavily channels old-school garage rock mixed with influences deeply rooted in punk and psychedelia. When forced to box up their sound, McFarlane chooses a timeless, two-and-a-half-word phrase: rock ‘n’ roll.
“[‘Torpedo’] was originally me and an acoustic guitar at the end of a relationship I went through, saying, ‘Everything looks great now,’” McFarlane laughs.
Maybe this won’t be the death of The OBGMs after all.