Heckler Interview Shaun and Rocky from Oppenheimer

"Catchy like the H5N1 strain of bird flu"

Earlier in the year, we were sent word of a spiffy new band's MySpace page. The band was called Oppenheimer, and the songs on their MySpace page have stuck in our brains ever since.

Fuzzy like Joy Zipper, warm like The Spinto Band, catchy like the H5N1 strain of bird flu, Oppenheimer are a name you'd better learn how to pronounce properly because you'll be talking about them all the time next year.

We caught up with Shaun and Rocky from Oppenheimer for a quick chat about Belfast, eating breakfast in New York and your Mum wearing slippers to the chip shop...


Who are you, and where are you?
Shaun: Shaun Robinson, currently typing this answer on a cold November evening in a north facing, end terrace house in Belfast, Ireland.
Rocky: I am outside his end terrace, watching him through the window.

Why should people listen to your music?
Shaun: Because we care. The more you listen to it, the more layers will surface and you'll realise that you never heard that bit before - I love music that constantly changes every time you listen to it. Hopefully it will put a smile on your face as well.
Rocky: I hope by listening to Oppenheimer people can take their minds away from their worries and just sing along for a few minutes.

How's recording the new album going? What does it sound like? Any song titles you can let slip?
Shaun: It's all good. We've just finished the recording of the final track for the album - we had five good friends down last Saturday to shout some vocal lines in a kinda 'mass choir' way... I think it sounds great. The album is pretty varied with sounds - I can't really describe what I think it sounds like. Recently when we've played album tracks live, people have been saying that it reminds them of The Beach Boys meets Kraftwerk meets Grandaddy meets Daft Punk which is all OK by me. Any song titles? "When I Close My Eyes, I Fall In Love".
Rocky: It's going really well, we are still in the game. This past summer we were recording some drum tracks, it was around the time of all the riots and there are loads of police helicopters all over the takes, gives it that unique Belfast sound. Our friend David Holmes has given us loads of really great equipment to finish off the last few tracks, old organs, drum machines and spring reverbs. He has been very encouraging, all our friends have. Recording these songs has been so much fun, I can't wait to get the album out there.

We first heard of you through your Myspace page. How important is it to be able to directly communicate with fans like that?
Shaun: It's great. Some people talk and communicate over the interweb more than when you meet them in the 'real world', which I find a bit strange...
Rocky: I love the contact with people. We've had so much interest from all over the world. Being able to listen to all these great bands instantly is brilliant, it's the main place I find new bands to listen to. That Tom is one smart arse alright, I bet he's having a money fight right now...

Have you ever had Breakfast in NYC? If so, what/where can you recommend? Or is that song based in lies?
Shaun: I've been in NYC twice in my life so far and I've had quite a few breakfasts there. There was a deli place not too far away from the Pennsylvania Hotel I can remember getting good bagels and coffee in - can't remember the name though....
Rocky: There's a nice Deli on W42nd Street. It was right next to where I stayed, although it was mostly too hot for Breakfast when I was there. Next time I'll go for pancakes & bacon.

Where is the tallest building in the world?
Shaun: Taipei, Taiwan - it's called Taipei 101 - you're not going to catch Rocky at the top of that one, him being scared of heights / flying /noodles / non-potato related foodstuffs etc.
Rocky: Quiet you....

How's the Belfast music scene?
Shaun: Friendly and as cold as ice at the same time - it all feels a bit strange at times with certain groups of the gig going public not going to a certain gig because 'they' are playing at it - it is quite a small city in that respect. In my opinion, there are a few great bands out there - Lafaro, Fighting With Wire, Patiosounds, Delaware and Selah to name a few.
Rocky: I think there's a lot of talented people in Belfast, but I think they're all doing their own thing.There are amazing songwriters like Duke Special, Tom McShane and Barry Peak. There's also a list of great bands as well as people like No Dancing who run their own record labels, promoting Northern Ireland to the rest of the world. There's good local radio, TV & magazines, it's actually pretty pleasant when you think about it.

Preach about something you love (not related to the band) in less than 100 words.
Shaun: Colour - It's supercool - think about it - in my Grandmother's lifetime we've gone from simple colour print to full colour video mobile phones (did someone say Bladerunner?). It has such an impact in everyday life - I'm re-reading George Orwell's 1984 and it screams 'grey'. Just imagine being in the movie theatre watching The Wizard of Oz and it being the usual 1939 B&W and then the ruby red slippers kick in! That's going to bend anyone sideways!
Rocky: I found it hard to choose one thing I love. I love my girlfriend, Vicky. She's given me the confidence to believe in myself, and that anything's possible if you try. She introduced me to indie pop and makes me laugh everyday. 

What's on the Oppenheimer iPod?
Shaun: Don't have one (yet) but if I did I suspect there would be quite a bit of Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies, Spiritualized, The Chalets, Tom Waits, Mosquitos, Kraftwerk, The Orb, Teenage Fanclub, Aphex Twin, Red House Painters, Boards of Canada, Angelo Badalamenti, Yo La Tengo, Halfset.
Rocky: The Like Young, Architecture In Helsinki, Mates Of State, Nanook Of The North, Guther, Les Savy Fav, Matt Pond PA, Ted Leo, Dudley Corporation, Spinto Band,

Favourite movie soundtrack?
Shaun: It's a difficult one this... It would be a choice between The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover by Michael Nyman, Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me by Angelo Badalamenti and O Brother, Where Art Thou?- Various Artists.
Rocky: I think the only movie music that takes me back to a time and a place is from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I watched that hundreds of times as a kid, those songs still sound magical to me.

Motorhead have Cheese And Chive Ruffles on their rider. What's on yours?
Shaun: Cold, I repeat, cold beer, Tayto Cheese and Onion potato crisps (only available mainly in Ireland) and good tea bags for our soundman, Gerry. I played a show with Mogwai once and on their rider was an A4 picture of Princess Leia from Star Wars. They got it.
Rocky: Pineapples, Cola, mash and the removal of our soundman's tea... I want to see how he copes.

Say something rock and roll.
Shaun: "Your ma wears slippers to the chip shop." / "Is this thing on?" /"Alright brother?/!" / "Are you feeling air-horny?"
Rocky: "I used to rock and roll all night and party every day, then it was every other day, now I am lucky if I can find half an hour a week in which to get funky" - you're lucky you're only getting one Simpsons quote!

What are you going to do right now?
Shaun: Make a nice cup of tea and watch an animated French film that friends called Tom and Laura gave me yesterday.
Rocky:   ***

- Stuart Heritage, Heckler Spray