As the much-hyped Toronto ensemble The OBGMs (Ooohh Baby Gimme Mores) prepares to release its new album, The Ends, at the end of this month, guitarist/vocalist Densil McFarlane has been making it clear that he and his bandmates, drummer Colanthony Humphrey and bassist Joseph Brosnan, represent something Canada has rarely heard: punk rock made from a Black perspective.
And while their two-minute anthems such as Fight Song and Outsah burn with rage and frustration, they’re also powered by relentless grooves that hint at the very real potential for The OBGMs (aka The oOoh Baby Gimme Mores) to give mainstream Canadian rock a much-needed kick in the ass.
That energy is, in fact, a product of McFarlane needing to get himself back on track after nearly breaking up the band in 2018. He’d fallen into a dark place at that point, having lost a lot of confidence in his creativity, and feeling that the music the band was making was more about pleasing others than themselves.
However, after taking a six-month hiatus during which McFarlane focused on writing most of the material that wound up on The Ends, the band set up at Dream House Studios in Toronto with Grammy and Juno-winning producer Dave Schiffman (PUP, Rage Against The Machine), and knocked out the album with a completely new feeling of confidence.
Part of McFarlane’s motivation now is to inspire kids, especially within his own community, to get into rock and roll as he was once inspired to do, and there’s certainly a lot about The Ends that could make it a potential game-changer. The album is officially released Oct. 30 through Black Box Recordings, and we spoke with Densil McFarlane to gain some more insights.
What makes The Ends stand apart from the band's previous work?
This album feels timeless. I feel like this was the album we were meant to make. This whole time, being in a band all these years, you go through many highs and lows. For what? I think it was for this. I feel this will go down as one of the strongest albums of this century across genres.
Which songs on the record have particularly special meaning for you?
When we recorded Outsah, the tone of the room changed. Everybody gave the stank face, and I felt like we found ‘IT.’
To Death is one of only a few songs that I look back to and think I said what I needed to say. But with the track Cash, I remember being lyrically free to deliver the song in the way I wanted and say whatever came to mind.
How do you view the state of rock and roll in Canada at this moment, or just in general?
I think the state of rock and roll is boring and in need of salvation. I think the dimensions of the court we are playing on should change, and we will lead that charge.
How have you been adapting to engaging with your audience during the pandemic?
We have been adapting well to the pandemic. This period of time has granted opportunities to engage with people online and build real personal connections. This period of time has also been a great opportunity to reflect and analyze what impact I want to make in my community beyond music. I consistently look for creative ways to showcase BIPOC artists' art in alternative spaces, and I feel I have found my purpose.
What's your mindset looking ahead to next year and the prospect of hopefully playing live?
The same as it is any year, try to take over the world. It would be great to play shows; however, I think the pandemic has shown that the travelling band's business model is flawed. My mind’s state is focused on building something through music and art that can't be taken away or postponed. I know we will get there.