INTERVIEW: Okay Champ | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Wolfgang Paradisio

Okay Champ, for fans of…“disaster.” Newcastle’s finest purveyors of distorted noise pop are certainly drawn towards the bleak, though the sense of impending doom is delivered with a good dose of droll humour. “For me, there’s an overall feeling of worrying about everything falling to bits, but being able to laugh at the absurdity of it all,” explains vocalist and guitarist John Edgar. “All the while frantically jumping between each of those extremes. Hilarity and despair. Though I always try to put a bit of light relief in there when I think I’m being too morbid. And the lads are so lovely. There’s always light in the Champ camp! Plus, Okay Champ is the kind of thing you say when you want to comfort and encourage someone at the same time. That’s nice, I think. It would have a question mark of course, but we’re not total arseholes.”

The quintet, consisting of former members of Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister, Let’s Buy Happiness and Yourcodenameis:milo (to name but a few of their previous bands), and current members of Eat Fast, have caused quite a stir since they snuck up on us in 2017 with the release of the delectably dissonant I Don’t Like This Anymore EP, which has since mysteriously vanished from the internet. “We rushed those first recordings and put them out without really thinking. We’d hardly played the songs together when we recorded them. Lots and lots has changed, let’s just call it a false start.”

False start or not, it didn’t damage Okay Champ’s momentum and only served to whet people’s appetite for more post-punk paranoia. Rumour has it there’s an album’s worth of material floating about, but for now we’ve been graced with a reintroduction in the form of recent single The Party’s Over (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road). The track opens with spiky riffs and ominous thudding drums before bursting into a sludgy cacophony while Edgar dryly delivers sardonic observations such as “I used to like drugs but now I like therapy” and “I used to be bored but now I’m just tired”.

there’s an overall feeling of worrying about everything falling to bits, but being able to laugh at the absurdity of it all

“I think the vocal delivery is actually more of an effort not to sound apathetic and disconnected. That’s how it feels when writing anyway. I think if you’re going to try to convey darkness or sadness, if you don’t have an element of wit or self-awareness then you’re knackered.” They’re also about to release another single, William Tell. While slightly more urgent it’s no less brooding than The Party’s Over, with Edgar sounding just as world-weary. “There is a reason it’s called William Tell. It’s quite specific. Can we have a quiz? The first reader to get in touch with the correct answer wins a prize. A trip to Wet N Wild with Okay Champ!”

Despite the gloom, appearances still matter to Okay Champ, who have created a strong focus on the visuals that accompany their sound, collaborating with local artist Wolfgang Paradisio. “I think Wolfgang’s style is very minimal and very human, if that makes sense,” explains Edgar. “It’s personable, gentle and fragile. Funny at times, too. I think it helps bring out that lighter side of Okay Champ that I mentioned earlier. Also, she’s my girlfriend and she does it for free.”

Okay Champ release William Tell on Thursday 21st June. They play Evolution Emerging on Saturday 9th June.

 

 

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