Ska, rock and roll and Final Fantasy... we chat with Operation Offbeat
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH
YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
We’re Operation Offbeat, and we think that Ska is a great playground- none of us is
a Ska purist; we all come from different musical backgrounds, but we all find it
wicked how much you can do with it! Punk goes well with it, Spaghetti westerns,
sweet Pop music, Rock and Roll, even Country… If it works, it isn’t crazy, and we
want to try out a lot more!
The band itself has a bit of a weird history- born from the idea to connect the Ska
scenes of London and Hamburg. Which seemed smart at the time, as those bands
usually have a big line up (bigger than the audience in the worst case), and that
can make touring a bit of a strain…! So I put on an ad in London; asking who’d be
interested in connecting with Hamburg bands and musicians- for doing exchange
shows, features and the like. The interest was so big that a complete band came
about, so I commuted between the two towns for the following years, using cheap
flights and couch surfing… My back hurts thinking of it…
The band used to go by the name „The Crooners“, but was renamed Operation
Offbeat, after a disastrous gig implied a change… We’d gig in the London area and
a bit in Germany for the next two years got a deal- and split up over spilt milk.
I’m a bullhead though, so I found a new band. That one again was scattered to the
four winds by Brexit then (not literally; but some band members, who came from all
over Europe, decided to call it a day and move away).
I was a bit exhausted by the year-long commute anyway, so I moved the band back
to Hamburg, where after a few gigs the plague locked us in. So at this stage, we
play, write, experiment, and get ready for whenever gigs start again!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?
To me personally, "Your idea of luck“, and the fact that it finally came out, shows
what you can do when you remain positive. When we started making it, I was just
like "Yeah, cool, record a few songs and see what happens“, but the strain that
followed was absurd. The reason for the band splitting up three years ago and
reforming was not mainly Brexit, it was that even members of the band didn’t want
to make this album.
Now what we’ve got are ten fine tracks, some fast-paced, some reggae, a bit of
Rock and Roll- if you like short, catchy tunes and a few dirty guitars here and
there, I’d strongly recommend you lend us your ear!
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?
The idea behind the lyrics in general could be "take a hit, don’t lose your wit“, some
of it comes from real-life experience, some is made up- but the overall look at things
is to name it if it’s bad, speak your mind, but remain able to laugh about yourself. To
me personally, self-irony is a source of strength. And almost the same applies to the
music itself- we know we’re neither reinventing the wheel, we know we’re not high
arts, but this is as close as we get to the bands we love, and we love doing it!
Ska! Rock and Roll! Irony and honesty, positive vibes covered in grumpy words,
hooks and melodies, fun songs- and apart from the music itself, the fact that
enthusiasm beats negativity!
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
"If I should fall from grace with God" by The Pogues. I remember how a schoolmate
of mine played me a few seconds of the Pogues on his earphones at a break. I later
accidentally saw the vinyl album in a mall, bought it- and put it on in the evening,
whilst being with my friends, who were rather into Punkrock, Hardcore, Metal and
the like. Everybody in the room would roll his eyes and fake sickness when the title
track was coming up, but I was in love right away. I had always listened to Irish folk,
and The Pogues were what I had always missed between Folk and Rock and Roll,
without knowing it.
I admire Shane MacGowan for his ability to write and sing this heartfelt, honest
poetry without any irony or arbitrariness. It’s something I wish I could do myself, but
Shane is one of the best songwriters and lyricists of all time, and there’s no shame
in not catching up! Although, Phil Chevrons "Thousands are sailing“ is second to
not a single of Shanes tunes. I still listen to this album and it hasn’t worn out for me
the slightest bit.
By the way; the same schoolmate introduced me to the Busters, which got me into
Ska. I am grateful to this day.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR
My favourite Operation Offbeat videos are ‚Power and dominion‘ / ‚Me Me Me‘. That
is simply because as of today, that was the last thing I was part of that was
completely insane. It’s been two people -Milena, who plays the spy- and me, a
crazy idea, two Easyjet tickets, and off we went. It’s been one of the most stressful
experiences of my life, not going into details here, but Milena and I both agreed just
recently that it was also great fun! By the way; part of the original plan was to film a
chase at King’s Cross station, using plastic weapons. Luckily, that was one of the
times we shot with a pro cameraman, and he talked us out of it unless, and I quote,
"we’d want to get snipered“. King’s Cross is apparently surveilled by armed police,
and if they spot anyone waving a gun in the air…I think we owe him our lives?
My favourite music video of all times would be "Sabotage“ by The Beastie Boys-
there’s so much effort and creativity in it, yet it looks like three guys are just
having fun with a camera! When I first saw it, I did not know what to think of it and
loved it at the same time.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU’RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
I’m a historian, so I spend a lot of times in the office, working for a museum
amongst others… Also, I’m a movie maniac and a news addict, and I have started
Final Fantasy VII just recently (and plan on finishing by 2025 if the band goes on
like this…) But by far my greatest pleasure is quality time, I’m a family man and I
love playing with my daughter.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH
There hasn’t been a single show I’ve played in my life where I didn’t wish it would
miraculously be cancelled before stage time. I have no idea why that is. I reckon
that is still a reflex from the times I played in teenage bands, and we were beyond
bad. Drinking helps, obviously, up to a certain point- but as I don’t know where that
certain point is, ideally I’d enter stage high on diet coke, force myself through the
first five minutes, and then I’d totally enjoy it.
HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?
We met online, in ten years or so there has been exactly one band member who
has been brought in by recommendation, and that’s our current guitarist Eike. It’s a
bit boring, I admit, I wish I had a cool story like "We met in a mental hospital and
escaped together“, but as one of the reasons I’m in music is the opportunity to meet
people, that is all fine, I don’t care how it works, as long as it works!
HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU
ALL WORK TOGETHER?
We have a key songwriter- yours truly! But: Our usual routine is that I write a song
and send it to everyone, the band then decides whether they want to do it or not, and
then anyone can make suggestions on how to arrange it. That wasn’t my intention
in the first place, but as I’m the only remaining band member from past times it
has just come up like that. But it might change in the future- we’ve been together for
almost two years now, which is long by this band’s standards, so we’ll see what
happens! Someone might want to take one for the team…
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
All sorts of real-life-comedy, politics, news, films… I’ve only begun in recent years to
literally write and sing about my personal views, without just making up a story to
hide behind. I’m curious where it gets me, obviously, it makes a difference whether
you tell a funny story that happened to you on the way to work, or if you confess
being an alcoholic or something like that.
WHAT IS NEXT?
We’ve got another video in the making; for "Cross the line“ from our recent album.
And in October, we’ll hit the studio to record twelve new tracks for another album to
come out next year.
PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.
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