Q & A: OPERATION OFFBEAT

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!

CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?


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

ANOTHER ARTIST?


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

THAT?


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.


https://www.facebook.com/londonskapunk/

https://www.instagram.com/operationoffbeat/


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