Interview with The OBGMs: Charming McFarlane Is On His Way

The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault. The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault.

I was patiently waiting in the media tent for the Toronto-based band The OBGMs, a bit nervous, just like every interview I conduct. It is 11:00 a.m. I shift my papers one last time. Everything is in order. The minutes pass.  Then  Densil McFarlane and his girlfriend Shanelle arrive. A hug, time to apologize and introductions, we sit at a table. It surprises me that the rest of the band is not present. “Sleeping,” McFarlane informs me. Perhaps not so surprising after all. “The most important man is present,” the singer laughs, so  we can begin. Densil McFarlane exudes the same energy in person as on stage . Good humor and laughter insured.

Bélinda Bélice (BB): You had a show yesterday afternoon. How was your Osheaga experience in Montreal?

Densil McFarlane (DMF): Wow! Honestly I’ve heard a lot of great things about Osheaga but today compares to the actual experience. It was amazing. The Trees stage was filled up a little bit. It went very well. I’ve got to say that Montreal, you’ve done it again. It’s definitely one of the top five festival experiences that the band has ever had. Period.


BB: How would you describe the fan response?

DMF: Oh. Receptive. But we demand that. We threatened people before the show, before we go on the stage. We literally go up to them and say “You better do this or else.” So we demand that. But that being said, the fans are very receptive. Anybody that is here wants to have a good time. So you know, they are willing to commit to whatever we tell them to do. Our shows are pretty interactive so it’s hard not to participate. But that being said, I love the crowd response. These guys have great energy and they go from 11 a.m. to midnight. So that’s pretty great.

The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault.

The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault.

BB: Do you feel like there’s a big difference between Montreal’s music scene and Toronto’s music scene?

DMF: Absolutely. I absolutely do. You know what? We worked as a two piece for almost a decade until we added some other great people. It took a long while to have that same type of reception in Toronto. Toronto, people stand there with their hands and they don’t move. But they come to you after the show telling you they had a good time. But in the whole province of Quebec, we’ve played here six or seven times, people have fun. People are there to enjoy music. That’s the major difference. Toronto, you’ve got to poke someone to have fun and that’s what have made our shows like this where you have to tell people what to do. In Montreal, they are willing to do it. They are already doing it. So that’s the major difference. Both are fine, but different challenges involved.


BB: You were featured in Budweiser’s “Dreams are Made” commercial. There was the Budweiser in America festival. It was pretty huge. How has it helped your career?

DMF: You know what? We are truly thankful to the people at Budweiser. At that point in time and still now, a lot of people didn’t know about The OBGM’s. But to be put on a platform where there is a national campaign, of course, that’s going to benefit your career. There are people in the States that have heard of us, people in Canada that have heard of us. Even in Uruguay people have heard of The OBGM’s. It definitely helped. That being said, we still got a lot of work to do. We still got to push. We’re still an independent band and that’s the name of the game. We do thank them for all the help. They took bands that were nobodies and they made them out of something that is slightly above.

The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault.

The OBGMS on stage at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival 2015. Photo Pierre Bourgault.

BB: You guys are going to play tonight at the Cabaret Lion d’Or.

DMF: Yes!


BB: You performed outdoors yesterday. How does it affect your live set to be whether indoors or outdoors?

DMF: You know what? It is different. You know I prefer playing indoors. I got to be honest.


BB: Really?

DMF: Outdoors you get more people. A lot more people. I like indoors, in small spaces which will be interesting for our career because I love to play small venues. You get people that are in a closed space and they can’t run. Outdoors, people turn things into a picnic. People like to have fun, sit in a chair and watch shows. F that. If you are there, in a small area and there are no seats, you’re forced to stand. You’re forced to engage. So that makes it easier for us. So I really do prefer small shows. That’s why I’m really looking forward to this after-party. We had a short set for the outdoors festival. It’s going to be crazy. We’re going to be wild.


BB: Your first album came out last year, right?

DMF: You know what? The band actually had an original EP.  It was released in 2009. Between that time, we recorded another full-length album but we never released it. We actually released one song and that was Beat Up Kidz. Then we released another full-length album which was last September. It’s been doing pretty well. It’s been going very well for us.


BB: Are you working on new songs?

DMF: Hell yeah. We are always working on new songs. We had a long year and a lot of different experiences. The last album was really based off of relationships. The next one will probably be based off of observations of what’s happening in our world today. We make party music and that’s cool. But on this platform where more people are listening, people need to listen to what you have to say. So I think this album will be more outspoken and militant to say the least. We are working on new music. You should hear new music by fall. Stay tuned to all of our social media. Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. You can find our music on those things.


BB: Last question, what the end of 2015 will look like for you guys?

DMF: Holy crap. By the end of 2015, we will play the Europe twice. That’s pretty amazing for a band that’s never been there. So that’s pretty sweet. We have another thing in the works. We can’t discuss it right now but it will be pretty good. We’ll have new music out. Big shout-out to the people of Much Music who will give us a Facts grant for our music video that is coming out. We feel that this will be pretty impactful on our careers. Literally, this is going to be world domination after world domination. 2015 was a great year for us. But 2016, holy crap. I’m looking forward for that. We got a lot of good things coming up. Euro tour, new music. There are special things planned coming up in the next few months.


BB: That’s it. Thank you very much.

DMF: Thank you. We appreciate you. I read the Montreal Rampage article of the show. It was really descriptive. Everything that actually happened, you actually pointed out. That’s amazing.


The interview ends with a selfie of course. The discussion continues. Joseph Brosnan arrives when everything is finished. McFarlane tells me to point in my article that the rest of the group was not there. Unacceptable! We always laugh with The OBGMs. Better late than never, here comes Colanthony Humphrey. A little chat, some laughter and the group leaves. It was nice to meet – a bit disjointed. The guys are friendly. If a mad desire to have fun arises in you, try to catch them at their next performance. If it is in any way a reflection of their time at Osheaga, you will go crazy.


The OBGMs performed at Osheaga 2015.