As they gear up to celebrate 15 years since the release of stand out album Menace to Sobriety, California band OPM are preparing to get back out on the road to delight fans across Europe with both old and new material, taken from their upcoming EP The Minge Dynasty.
Eager to discuss the bands's impressive career, front-man John E. Necro agreed to this EXCLUSIVE interview with our staff writer Rebecca.
PW: You've been in the industry now for 15 years - what do you think has been the key to your longevity?
J: I really believe if you do what you love, time travels at a different rate. Doing what you love is not to be confused with not working hard. To do what you love is harder than any alternative. But when putting in that hard work is fun, 15 years doesn’t seem like a long time.
PW: You've outlasted a lot of bands and seen others emerge during your time together, but whom, of the bands and artists around today, would you champion for future and continued success?
J: That’s a funny question because our new single “Millionaire Like Me” sort of touches on how I feel about this topic. I think about it a lot and I am concerned for the future of music. What I have seen in my career to where we are today, making predictions for success for any artists in the future hinges on an overall mindset of our society. You say what? Here we go…
When you say success what do you really mean? Is success how many YouTube views you have or IG followers? Don’t confuse success with a popularity contest. None of those things translate into real money and without revenue, success is near impossible. The mindset of this generation don’t seem to get this concept. It’s not just the fans, most new artists have bought into the social network rat race as well.
When I was young, popularity was based on charts. Charts were based on sales. We all voted for our favourite artist with our money. Those sales propelled artists into rock stars. Which we ALL gained from! We got bigger concert productions, bigger records, crazier videos. It was so big that it dominated fashion and allowed artists to make massive changes in the world. So now popularity is based on followers. A fraction of those people actually are supporting with their money. They think they are showing support by clicking on a 'like' button. Likes don’t pay for studio time or for new gear, or for a tour van. YouTube and Spotify don’t pay shit in the overall scheme of things. Most of these artists seem content to just be popular and fake it like they are rock stars.
It’s gotten so bad that the only way to make it better again is for a revolution of sorts. For people to all stand together and make it right. Listen to people like Taylor Swift, who is one of the most successful artists of our time when she stands up and says 'you have to pay me for my work.' And not just for her, but for all of us. We all need to follow her lead and fans need to support that change. We get so much out of music, how hard is to understand you have to support the artists?! Things in life mean more when you work for it. Don’t treat our hard work like disposable junk.
PW: How do you think you've evolved as musicians and a band over the years?
J: The music is a direct link to who we are as people. Evolution is inevitable as we grow. Music is a primal art form. The basic concept of banging on stuff, making sounds to express yourself, is performed by millions of 2-year-olds and monkeys around the world as we speak. Sometimes as you grow intellectually we lose sight of that, which could potentially destroy the music making process. One of my favourite quotes is “It’s a fine line between clever and stupid." When it comes to making music, it’s safer to stay closer to the stupid side.
PW: “Heaven Is A Halfpipe” was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. What can you recall of the hype and excitement that surrounded you and the band at the time?
J: It was like a dream. It was all very magical in a way. The song had such a great reaction from people and being at the centre of that was like a high. First and foremost, I’m a huge music fan, so travelling the world and hanging out with artists I had been a fan of my whole life was surreal. And as you realise they are in the same dream, it’s just crazy. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
PW: Did you ever think that a song about skateboarding could be so popular?
J: When we wrote it, it felt like it was going to be a hit. But then again we thought every song we wrote was going to be a hit - we still do! At the time, we were writing and I just tapped into my childhood for inspiration. I was literally daydreaming of my youth. Skating had the biggest impact on my childhood. It was my culture. Everything revolved around skating. My best memories of my childhood were spending summers out in the fields building and skating half pipes, listening to cassettes on my boom box. I had no idea at the time I was writing a song that so many other people would relate to. I'm just happy that it all came out that way.
PW: You're embarking on a huge European tour this summer to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Menace to Sobriety. What can fans expect from the shows?
J: We are all really excited. It’s going to be a great time. You can expect to be singing “Heaven is a Halfpipe," “El Capitan," and all our other amazing songs in a room full of happy intoxicated people taking a trot down memory lane of the last 15 summers. How could that not be awesome?
PW: How did you choose your support acts Big B and Ceekay Jones for the tour?
J: Big B has been a big part of OPM for about 13 years. After Matthew quit the band, we were looking for someone to replace him. B jumped on with us for a while then. Then he got going on his solo career, got busy and we haven’t been able to put a tour together in quite some time. He is an amazing performer and I am really looking forward to doing these shows with him. And so should you. A few years back I co-produced a track with The Makerz, which is Ceekay and his brothers’ production company. Ceekay was singing on the hook and I was instantly a fan. He has toured a few times with B and they thought he would be a good addition to the tour, so we linked up.
PW: Is there any particular venue you're looking forward to playing or are you just happy to be getting out on the road again?
J: I’m looking forward to all of them really. But to single out a few, I'm looking forward to the Borderline because I love playing in London. I’m really excited to play the Boars Head again in Kidderminster. We played there in 2013 and it was amazing. The owners are really cool and they have a patio in the back. We all hung out all day drinking pints and had a great time. The show was out of control.
PW: If you could play any venue in the world which you haven't yet, which would it be and why?
J: I just went to the Greek two nights ago. We have never played there. Being from Los Angeles, that’s definitely on my wish list. Growing up I got to see some amazing shows there so it would be cool.
PW: What can you tell me about your upcoming EP? What were the influences that inspired it?
J: It’s like a party in your mouth, but it’s actually a party in your ears. These songs are basically songs that actually sound like the summertime. When you hear them you will want to run outside into the sunshine, get drunk, and get naked. Proving doubters and haters wrong is always fuel for me. Influences for me come mostly from everyday life. The little things that make me feel something - happy, sad, mad, horny...whatever.
PW: How would you say your songwriting has changed over the years? Does inspiration for songs still come as easy to you?
J: In the beginning of our career, in the writing aspect, I knew very little about writing structure, but my instincts were generally spot on. So when we were writing songs for Menace, Matthew was the structure guy and I was the instincts guy. So together were able to channel my story into comprehensive songs. As I’ve learned the structure of songwriting over the years I tend to go into my head too much, so my biggest challenge is always to think less and go back to trusting my instincts. That’s why I have always liked writing with Big B. He’s an instinct guy. Just being around him reminds me to trust mine.
PW: You're one of very few bands who don't appear to need or rely on social media to secure a fanbase, as you let your music often speak for itself. Do you think there's too much reliance on social media today or is it now a necessary requirement for bands and artists?
J: It is necessary and we do use it. Like I said before, bands get caught up in the hype. Some bands think it’s so important that they find ways to artificially bloat their followers. We all know there are all kinds of cheats, you can even spend money and buy followers. That might make you look cool, but you're really just cheating yourself and making the tool less effective. You don’t want non-fans to be followers, it creates congestion. If you have fans who actually care about you, you don’t need massive numbers. Let 6 degrees of separation work for you. If you have 100 followers and they each have 100, who each have 100, by the time you get to the 6th degree you could potentially reach 1,000,000,000,000,000 people! But wait, there aren’t even that many people in the world. Anyway, I’d rather have 100 real fans than 1,000 people who get annoyed with my selfies.
PW: Finally, when you finally decide to call it a day, what do you want fans to remember most about you, the band and your music?
J: I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to be different. Someone who tried to be a good person. For the music, I hope it inspires others and makes people happy.