Like many people, I first got word of Ooga Boogas as though they were some
sort of Eddy Current Suppression Ring side-project. If you’ll let me be honest,
honest with you, I wasn’t expecting much until they came to Philadelphia one
boring night and effortlessly destroyed the crowd. Their barbaric, steak-and-onions
rock n’ roll was undeniable and made me a believer then and there. A few weeks
later I found their debut album, ‘Romance And Adventure’, on my doorstep,
and with trepidation I put it on my turntable, fearing that their powerhouse
live set wouldn’t translate to a studio recording. Thankfully there was still more
crow for me to choke down, as ‘Romance And Adventure’ was one of rock’s
brightest moments of 2008, a true tumbler that harnesses the sideways glance
of ‘Grotesque’-era The Fall and straps it to the lurching, nearly-mechanical
garage menace of A Frames. These guys glide through their acerbic punk rock
with the ease of a pigeon taking flight, yet another reason why Australia is my
favorite country that is also a continent. I checked in with the boys and here’s
what they had to say. I tried to impress them with my use of “seppo” (short for
“septic tank yank”) but they didn’t seem to care.

Who came up with the name?
Leon (guitar/vocals): I’m not sure actually. Ask the other guys.
Per (drums): Richard did. Other candidates were “Barons Of Love” and “Atom
Brains”. All concocted by Richard. He is a classy man.
Rich (bass): Me. That was me. I did that. I also came up with the album title
and the name for the label. You can bet if it’s something good, I thought of it.

You guys are a little older than the average punk band, or at
least the average punk band putting out great records. Do you think
that changes the way you approach being in the band, differently than
if the Ooga Boogas existed ten years earlier?

Per: Definitely, ten years ago I was playing bossa nova for screaming
girls, now I’m getting surly nods from 30 year old teenagers. I don’t
feel bad about disappointing our audience, hence we are free to come
with some stupid-ass shit.
Mikey (guitar): Age makes us very unattractive to the opposite sex which makes
it easier to concentrate on the tight discipline of our music. Also 10
years ago I would have had a shitter record collection and very
possibly may have made some bad music so I hope our approach is
something I can stand by in another 10 years.
Rich: Cultivating a fun loving, anti-careerist image while conquering
the scene is a lot easier in your 30s.
Leon: Age explains the AOR approach on some of the tracks, and our new
direction since recording the album.

Would you believe me if I told you that I know at least a couple
people who prefer the Ooga Boogas to Eddy Current?

Per: Be careful, Mikey is a sensitive soul.
Mikey: Unbelievable! surely the mass shifting of units by ECSR proves
the better band! But seriously if anyone likes any band I’m in, I’m
Rich: I’m not surprised at all. Eddy Current are tight but they’re a
bit one dimensional don’t you think? We have far more depth and
originality. If we had their cute singer I’m sure we’d be just as
popular as they are, if not more popular.
Leon: Cute singer? Hey… hey Rich whaddya mean?
Credit: Bully Rook

I think Ooga Boogas are stocked with as many clean-shaven gents as
Eddy Current, honestly. I could certainly see the appeal for married
women getting bored of their husbands and looking for someone new and
exciting. Really, is there a bad-looking band on Aarght! Records?

Per: No, my Swedish aesthetics prevents any uggers from releasing
anything on the label. We only sign The Shaggs and the Kriss Krosses
of the world.
Rich: Yes, Eddy Current Suppression Ring.

A couple of you guys also run your label, Aarght! Records. Have
you put out your own records out of necessity, or for the sake of
artistic control, or some other reason?

Per: AARGHT! is a communal brodown melting pot. We all contribute. I
think it had more to do with not having to rely on anyone else. I
hardly think that we are in a league where we would have to worry
about artistic control. In fact, getting things past the critical ears
of Herr Stanley can be rather tricky sometimes.
Mikey: Having a label was originally an outlet for bands we loved but
seems to have turned into an exercise in egomania for myself.
Rich: I’m just a label runnin’ kinda guy.

On your US tour last year, were there any cities or gigs that
really stood out? You meet any Seppos?

Per: Columbus, NY, and Philly were interesting due to the drum kits I
had to use. A drumkit comprised of what looked like a deceased bass
drum with a taped up bass pedal and no snare stand, cement blocks for
drum stool and for propping up a one legged floor tom, and finally
Sean from Pissed Jeans 30″ bass drum monster kit that made me feel
like a character from a Tom Waits song…y’know, a one armed midget with
a trombone up my ass. All shows were heaps of fun though, Seppos or no
Mikey: The first show in SF stood out as we were officially shit. But
funnily enough that’s the one dudes cheered the loudest so maybe the
good version of us is actually the least good version.

What’s next for the Ooga Boogas? Are you treating the band as a
full-time venture or something just for fun on the side?

Per: Thrust the next “You’re The Voice” on the world in the guise of
our next epic single “Sentimental Stranger”. Ooga Boogas has never
been anything but a scapegoat to get me out of changing too many
nappies at home.
Mikey: I wanna throw down my guitar and pick up my synth and futurize
the Boogas sound. Per is getting his V drums on and we are gonna hit
the 22nd century. Hard.
Rich: People have said that the whole band hangs off my bass lines.
I’m happy with this arrangement, though I wouldn’t mind if one of the
others took some of the burden just once in a while.
Leon: We’re halfway through recording “Sentimental Stranger” but right
now I’m wondering if is there a future as I’m still trying to get over
Rich’s cute singer back-hander.

What’s “Sentimental Stranger”? A new single, or an album? Will that be
on Aarght! as well?

Per: Ask Stacky. It’s his magnum opus.
Leon: Stranger could be a excellent concept album but for now it’s
just a song. It’s about that special conversation/situation you might
find yourself in with a complete stranger that leads to life-long
friendship, or perhaps a damn good root.
Rich: It’s some ballsy shit is what it is. We’re currently in negotiations
with several American labels to release this one. I’m not sure Aarght!
is equipped to take the heat.

I’ll never be able to find a copy of your first single, will I?
Per: What is a life without dreams?
Rich: Ask Mikey, he’s a soft touch.
Mikey: Ask me nicely Matt and you shall receive.