Band of the Day: Operation Offbeat

Formerly London, now Hamburg… sometimes a band has to move to keep growing…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Hamburg! Born and raised. Except Richard, who’s from Washington DC. The reason you find so many UK references on our socials is that the band was originally formed in London where we’ve been active for roughly two years. I just had to move it closer to where I live, after the split of line up #1.

How did you meet?

We bumped into each other in a strip club near the airport, at about 10am on a Tuesday. We got denied a lap dance for being hammered, so we formed a band out of spite.

Obviously none of that is true, we met online. I simply put on an ad. I wish I had a better story to tell, but that way was easiest.

How long have you been playing as a band?

Two years, plus two years in the UK in my case, and minus lockdown, during which we actually didn’t play together. We have a pretty good routine doing what we can online by now though. I record my tracks at home, send them around, the others add what they think could be improved (intolerable!), so we don’t have to start from scratch when we meet.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

The name came to me during my London-Hamburg commute. When I got off the plane, with nothing but a guitar, a mobile, a crackpot idea, an M&S sandwich, debt, an Oyster card, change and anxiety, I felt a bit like James Bond on a mission, ready to take over London. Which is proper BS as Bond doesn’t fly EasyJet, suffering from Brown Ale belly ache. However, to add a bit of glamour to which was basically a donkey ride, I thought of it as the “Operation Offbeat”.

What are your influences?

I was brought up with folk and country, so I have a thing from way back for the early Dubliners, Johnny Cash and later The Pogues. I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen live for the first time (of many), I am a huge fan. And obviously AC/DC. Oh, and still the best live show I have ever seen was Jason and The Scorchers in a club in Hamburg, something you had to experience to believe it! I generally like bands who’d show everyone how much they enjoy what they do on stage. Can’t cope with aloof rock monsters.

Current bands I like are Rancid (current…), The Interrupters, and right now I’m enjoying a tasteful bit of hardcore from Wisdom in Chains.

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Describe your music. What makes you unique?

We’re fans at heart, so we throw anything into our music we find useful, without concerning the pure doctrine. I personally think of ourselves less as a ska band, but more as a rock band you can dance to. Except from myself, no one in the band has ever had anything to do with rude boy/skinhead/punk subcultures, so we might have a bit of a naive approach to the whole thing. That helps, it sets you free. On the other hand, in front of the wrong audience… But that happened only once, as far as I remember. So I’d say excitement derived from ingenuousness, that’s our thing!

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Including our current album, for me it’s always been blowing everyday thoughts and events out of proportion. Point at the fun side of sad things. And I do not consider myself to good for taking the role of the jerk when necessary.

But with that one tune, “Fire”, I have also and recently discovered to unironically write from the top of my head, positively, and I want to build up on that. On the other hand, and that I think is self explanatory after 2020 at the very last, there will be some angry lyrics on the next album. I think some of the made up absurdity will go, and some pretty real absurdity is closing in.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

With the current line up? …erm… Three. What’s interesting is the audience crush: 1. 50, 2. 100, 3. 1000. Then again: All three were support shows, so again: Aaawwww… Seriously, we supported Port Royal in Berlin, and then Roddy Radiation and Chico Trujillo in Hamburg, and all three gigs were great experiences. Even with a completely new line up, once we’re in the first bit of the gig, and you turn to your bandmates and spot a smile on their face and notice the audience approach, and you would work and rock out, and that’s what we do.

With the London line up though we did maybe 50-60 gigs? We had a pretty good punch in the end I must say, the band really rocked, but on the other hand we had stopped adding variety to the whole thing. Now we rock and evolve.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Playing guitar. Why?

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What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

I am a Gibson man. I’m playing a Les Paul Studio Live, for no other reason that it’s been with me for quite a while and so many gigs. I got it before OO came up, so we’ve been through a lot together. My live amp is an Orange TH30, plus the usual suspects: wah, slapback echo, spring reverb, and an Orange overdrive pedal for when people provoke me.

In the studio I am currently using a Les Paul Standard with P90 soapbar pickups, another one with burstbuckers, and an SG for pickings and solos, plus a Gretsch for twangs. Studio amps are a Fender Bassman head for bass and clean guitars, and the Marshall JVM205 for distorted guitars. That is a lot of stuff. Thing is, it sounds crap when you have a bad day and play badly. I love gear, I love the smell of nitro finish, I love beautiful guitars, but I hate it when it’s worth a wank cause it’s a bad day, and I just don’t have it in me. Luckily an HD drive is patient and you can always wait until the next day, when the mojo is back. Which I have to do sometimes, I don’t like editing too much because I’d feel uncomfortable listening to my stuff knowing there’s little cheats in it.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

According to latest news we’ll go on lockdown again on Monday, and it’s rather uncertain whether gigs will come back even in 2021. So my focus is on writing, recording and videos. I thoroughly enjoyed Mary-Lou Ploss‘, work on “Fire” and “Cross the Line”, so I could imagine a few singles with those comic style videos. However, the later gigs come back in the diary, the sooner we’ll have a new album!

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

In real life, we’d surely love to support Roddy Radiation and the Skabilly Rebels again, a delightful man with a great band. In my wildest dreams we’d be supporting Jason and The Scorchers- totally different musical style, but they have this particular, unfakeable Rock and Roll-spirit, and I’d like to see whether we can catch up! Making the billing complete would be Sick Leave. Us and them are currently moving into a mutual little ska refuge in Hamburg, and we chat a lot about possible future collaborations.

Photos by Ashley Greb Photography

Operation Offbeat: facebook | twitter | soundcloud | spotify

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