(Photo credit: Jake Haseldine)
Dublin garage rock/punk quartet, Otherkin, will release their debut album, OK, on September 29th via Rubyworks.
The band formed in 2013 and has since released several EPs and singles. Their first EP was The 201 EP, which came out in 2015 and featured “Ay Ay” and “Feel It”, both of which will feature on their debut album in September.
If you thought the band couldn’t get any better after their two EPs, wait till you hear the band’s new singles. Otherkin have repeatedly put out nothing short of the best garage rock tunes of the last decade, so you’d be a fool not to pick up a copy of their album in September.
I saw the band live this year at the Boileroom while supporting The Amazons and it was the most electrifying support slot I’ve ever seen. Their frontman, Luke, repeatedly crowd-surfed while somehow playing guitar and he even inserted himself into the middle of the moshpit inciting the crowd to get as low as possible until the place went bonkers, nearly getting barreled over a few times. Their set even included an appearance from The Amazons frontman, Matt Thomson, and at this point, Otherkin had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The gig ended as it began: with Luke crowd-surfing off into the distance.
Otherkin are Luke Reilly (lead vocals, guitar), Conor Wynne (lead guitar), David Anthony (bass), and Rob Summons (drums).
I spoke to Luke, the band’s frontman, to discuss the band’s humble beginnings, their debut album, touring with The Amazons and Inheaven, supporting Guns N’ Roses at Slane Castle, their favorite new bands, getting “band brain”, and much more. Read the full interview below.
First things first: Your debut album, OK, is coming out on September 29th. How excited and relieved are you, now that it’s finally coming out?
Luke: We can’t wait to put OK out in the world. Obviously, a debut album is a milestone for any band and we wanted to take our time and make sure to do it right. You only get one chance to put out your debut!
It’s been a long time coming since you guys formed the band. Did you officially form back in 2013 or was it earlier than that? I must admit I’ve seen some pretty interesting early press photos.
Luke: Haha, we’ve done our best to bury the kind of photos you’re talking about, but that’s the internet for you. Yeah, 2013 is about right. The idea to form a band had been in our heads since 2010, but we were all so busy with college that we couldn’t properly commit. Once we got it out of the way, we felt that we’d be cheating ourselves not to really give the band a proper push.
While doing some digging, I read that you guys actually formed in Toronto. Obviously, you guys are Irish and you’ve always been labeled as an Irish band or a Dublin band, so I was surprised when I read that. Do you remember back that far and if so, is there any advice you would give your former selves?
Luke: Yeah, I can vividly remember three of us sitting on the porch of our place in Toronto and jamming on acoustic guitars. I don’t think there’s any specific advice I’d give to ourselves. We’ve done everything so far at our own pace and on our own terms, it took us a while to find our sound and gradually build the band, but now it feels like we’re on the cusp. “Don’t eat yellow snow” maybe.
Now, back to the album. You guys released a lot of music beforehand, so you had a lot of songs to choose from. How did you come up with the track listing?
Luke: The track listing proved a little difficult. There were certain songs that had unanimous approval from everyone in the band right from the off, but there was a lot of talk about others. We recorded around 16 tracks for the album, so it’s understandably difficult to cut a quarter of those for the record, but we reached a point that everyone was 100% happy with. Some of the songs that we left off would have dramatically changed the mood of the album. We might put them out one day to give people a bit more perspective on the record.
Are there any surprises on the record? Any slow jams, acoustic ballads, or anything crazy?
Luke: Not really, no! We had a really clear vision for the album. We want it to be crammed with energy, speed and hooks. Slow jams and acoustic ballads are all well and good in a couple of albums time, but for now we want to deliver a debut that cranks everything up a gear with little let-up. There are one or two tracks that allow a bit of breathing space, but for the most part, it’s four-to-the-floor garage rock on amphetamines.
What are the oldest and newest songs on the album and how did you go about trying to make it all sound cohesive?
Luke: The oldest song on the album is a track called ’89. It’s one of the earliest songs that we wrote as a band and we actually hadn’t really been considering it for the album, but we decided to record it at the 11th hour! It underwent a lyric rewrite and a few tweaks were made to the instrumentation here and there. It came out so well that we felt it had to make the record. The newest songs are actually two of the singles: “Bad Advice” and “REACT.” We wrote them in a small cabin in the country a few weeks before recording. We just wanted to have a few more songs in the bank and they ended up becoming the singles!
In other big news, you just supported Guns N’ Roses at Slane Castle. How was the gig and do you think you converted any fans despite it not being your typical audience?
Luke: Slane was amazing. It really is such an iconic venue and most of us had our earliest concert experiences there. To play the same stage as Dylan, the Stones and Oasis have done in the past was something we’ll never forget. The response on the day was awesome. We just went out there and gave it everything we had, like every show.
Your recent UK tour supporting The Amazons with The Pale White was really special. I saw your show at the Boileroom and I’ve never seen a support band interact with a crowd as much as you guys did and you really had people going crazy for you. It was really awesome to see! Was that your favorite tour thus far?
Luke: What a tour that was, Jesus! That was one of our favourite tours so far yeah. The Amazons are really good guys and we had a lot of fun. Also, they sold out every show, so it was great for us to be able to hop on the gigs and play to people who have never heard of us before. Good times.
You’re also going on tour with Inheaven in the UK soon, who are another of my favorite bands, so I’m a bit upset I’ll still be in the states! What has the experience been like, in general, being able to tour with so many other great young bands?
Luke: The Inheaven shows are gonna be incredible, they’re a great band and we’re really into what they’re all about. It’s pretty class to be able to tour with other bands who’s music we like, everyone’s in the same boat really so there’s a lot of camaraderie and craic. There’s great stuff coming out of the UK at the minute; you’ve got bands like Inheaven, Yak and Idles who are putting out top-drawer tunes.
You’ve also toured extensively in Europe, outside of the UK. How has the response been at gigs so far?
Luke: Amazing. Holland has really taken to the ‘kin and you wouldn’t believe how rowdy the shows get over there. One of our favourite ever shows was in France last summer to around 15,000 people in Belfort. We’re heading off on a two month tour of Europe as soon as we get the album out. We’re playing in something like 15 countries that we’ve never played in before. It’s gonna be fucking nuts. Band brain will set in after a week and we’re all gonna be absolute shells by the time we get back. Can’t wait!
Are there any great new bands that you think people should know about?
Luke: Idles put out an album recently called Brutalism, which is everything you could want from a modern punk record. Chaotic, messy and angry as fuck; it’s really something. Thumper are an Irish noise-pop band who have put out some deadly tunes recently too, check them out.
What are you hoping to achieve with your debut album? Is it the opportunity to embark on a world tour, making kids want to start a band, getting as many people to hear it as possible?
Luke: We just want people to hear it and enjoy it. The world is so dark these days, we’re not trying to make any grand statement with this record, but we’d like to remind people that it’s okay to enjoy themselves. Forget everything for half an hour, whack this on and let it make you feel alive.
What’s in store for the rest of 2017 for Otherkin? Any concrete plans to tour the US yet?
Luke: Touring and a lot of it. That’s what we enjoy most. We wrote this album in mind of playing it front of people so if you want to get the proper Otherkin experience, then we think you should get down front. As for the US, it’s only a matter of time. No concrete plans just yet but keep an ear out!
For more on Otherkin, check out their links below: