Interview with O. Children for Dummy, May 2009.
O. Children, an East London goth-pop four-piece, are due to release their next single, Dead Eyed Lover, on Deadly People in June. How appropriate then, that Andi Sleath – the band’s drummer – claims that the strangest place he’s ever played a gig is actually someone’s funeral. Andi and front man Tobi O’Kandi were once in the similarly morbid short-lived scene favourites Bono Must Die, but their sights are set a little higher this time: “We don’t write songs about minor celebrities and rich kids now – there’s more of a thought process involved,” Tobi explains, “and we have proper management who know what they’re doing.”
Though O. Children are essentially a post-punk band, the obvious Joy Division comparisons are wearing a bit thin – Tobi deadpans “Ian Curtis invented the baritone vocal, therefore we are one and the same.” Andi prefers a comparison with the King himself: “A lot of my drumming is probably influenced by Michael Jackson, but I wouldn’t consider that strange seems as he’s one of the world’s biggest selling artists!” Tobi chips in, telling me how a lot of 1980s hip hop is creeping in, as well as some Donna Summer. It may sound like a bit of a push at first, but there is a definite pulse to songs like Mallowmalomalos and Ace Breasts, the split 7 they released with S.C.U.M last year. Get past the morbid façade and O. Children are, at heart, a party band. Soul, calypso, grindcore, and Arabic garage is also on the O. Children iPod – though “not that kind of garage,” laughs Tobi “The Sonics sort of garage, but Arabic.” However, after a painstakingly tracking down two songs by Morocco, the band he was referring to, I was less than impressed.
When I meet with Tobi and Andi, it’s a strangely sombre occasion on a grey Saturday in the Victoria, Mile End. Both of them are less than pleased to be here, as Andi’s had to come out of his way today and Tobi initially thought he wasn’t going to be able to make the interview, an earlier text from him reads, “I’m really sick. Infected throat, swollen glands, throwing up sick.” Eventually he has little choice but to come along, remembering that Bordeaux-born guitarist Gauthier is out of the country and pondering aloud that “Harry [bassist] is probably recovering from an acid trip somewhere…”
How Harry and Gauthier came to join them on bass and guitar is a musical rescue mission, Andi laughs at the memory of the situation – “We needed a bassist and a guitarist because we lied about having one. We had to ask around,” thus Harry James and Gauthier Ajarrista were recruited as part of the line-up. The last gig that they played was in this very pub, and although O’Kandi is highly disdainful towards one of the other bands performing that same nighy, both members are very positive about Wild Palms. “We’ve played a lot of shows with them,” enthuses Andi, “They’ve got really good songs – someone could do a really good remix of one of them and it would be massive.”
When it comes to live shows, Tobi doesn’t hold back on what he’s hoping for. “We’d like to play a really big arena, I mean it’s all well and good playing Shoreditch but…” The world is bigger than Shoreditch? “Exactly. The world is bigger than Shoreditch.” There are talks of a dream world tour, featuring O. Children playing alongside Suicide, U2, Girls Aloud and, obviously, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Tobi describes himself as a “massive, massive fan – hence the name”).
Until then, back to death: what would be O’Kandi’s perfect funeral? “Oh I’ve actually thought about this one. When I die I want there to be a horse and carriage, I’m gonna be cremated obviously, with a little solemn child holding a sword walking down, and a procession with crowds either side of me.”