“We’re described as comedown music quite a lot” – Exposed meets Sheffield band Oh Papa
Music to warm the soul, soothe a sore head, after a spliff, while cruising through the Peak District in mid-coitus. That, in a nutshell, is how we settled upon describing the sounds of Oh Papa during an interview with the dreamy pop peddlers last month.
Sound like your sort of bag? Read on to hear more about some exciting plans from three members of the up-and-coming four-piece, Jack Davies (Vocals/Guitar), Felix Harrap (Drums) and Ric Jackson (Guitar).
Shall we start at the start? Give us the Oh Papa story.
Jack: Day one? I met Ric at, erm…
Ric: We met at an open mic night.
Jack: Did we? At the Redhouse?
Ric: Not Redhouse, at The Greystones.
Jack: Really? I don’t remember that. We actually went to school together, but Ric used to bully me at school. I was in the year below, and he called me “Thong Boy” behind my back, because apparently I bent over once and had a thong on. But I’ve got no recollection of that.
Was it a thong?
Ric: I think it was, yeah. It’s because you’re tall and you used to wear jeans really low.
Jack: It was the fashion mid-2000s. We were sort of playing together for a while, with a few different people, and then our old music teacher suggested Felix as a drummer. We just met him at the pub, and that very same night you played an open mic with us.
What kind of things were you playing back then? Covers?
Jack: Mostly original stuff, all originals really. Me and Ric have been writing for a long, long time. We’ve always had songs, so Felix just picked them up and we played as a three-piece for a while. We tried to rock out without a bassist.
Felix: We tried as hard as we could but it just didn’t work, did it? The best was when we went to record our first EP with Martin from MU Studios, and on the day we got there, we were like: “Oh yeah, by the way, we don’t have a bassist. Would you be alright to learn the EP and play bass on it?”
Jack: Followed by: “And in the next ten minutes, preferably.” But he did nail it in fairness. Then Martin eventually suggested Phil, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me – not the band, me.
Which allowed you to shift your sound considerably?
Ric: Yeah, it’s just all a bit more refined I suppose.
Felix: Especially because as a three-piece we used to just rock out and do things as loud as possible, whereas Phil helped to make it into a more dynamic sound.
Jack: The sounds don’t really need to be rocked out, as for the most part it’s very chilled music. It’s sort of… what’s the word? Kind of like hazy, sort of dreamy, you know? And he just brought the flow it needed.
It’s nice that we can honour Phil in his absence.
Jack: Yeah, top guy.
Moving back to the sound, if you had to succinctly sum up the Oh Papa experience – the whole package – to someone who’d never listened to you before, how would you do it?
Jack: What a question. Ric?
Ric: Erm, well, I dunno.
Felix: There you go!
Jack: So, if somebody came to see us, I’d like them to go away saying to themselves, “Ah, that was really nice, I’d like to listen to that more.” I think we’ve sort of figured out how to translate our recordings so they’re nice to listen to live. It’s like trying to make that connection between people liking a song and replicating it live, in the nicest way possible.
Is it harder to stand out on bills if your music is a bit dreamier, a bit more pensive?
Felix: I mean, there have obviously been a few gigs, especially over the past year or so, where if we’re on the bill with a rock band or a funk band and they’ve been making everyone go nuts, there is that self-awareness that people could love or hate it. But I think we manage to successfully do it, because people come up to us after and tend to be all like: “Ah, man, I’m gonna put you on at home when I’m stoned or… having a coffee.”
I’ve had a banging headache today and it’s been bloody lovely listening to you guys.
Felix: You have to be ill to listen to us.
Jack: That’s the other sort of parallel we have to wrestle with, because at the end of the day if people have paid to come and see us play, we need to put on a show.
But you can still dance to your music, surely?
Felix: Yeah, absolutely.
Ric: Sway. You can sway.
Music that you can sway to.
Jack: That’s the name of the new album.
But seriously though, what is the name of the album?
Ric: Papa Les.
All new tracks?
Ric: We’ve been playing a lot of them for a long time, but there are a couple that are newer than others.
Jack: Like I say, we’ve just had this sort of mound of material to work from. I think we’ve really reigned in on our sound now, it feels like we’ve been in ten different bands beforehand, but now we’re ready to release music.
Felix: We’ve found the band that Oh Papa is.
Tell me a bit more about the EP. Who’s Papa Les?
Jack: Papa Les is my grandad, he’s on the front cover, and we’re looking to release it on 23 November. There are six tracks and a lot of family themes in there, a bit of early stage loss and generally just figuring out how to grow up – that’s the whole premise of the album.
Felix: Our music’s quite summery; we really enjoy playing the outdoor summer shows like Peace in the Park. It might not suit a basement at 11pm quite as much.
How do you adapt to the winter months. Just stick a record out and hibernate?
Jack: Yeah, it is gonna be a winter release. Maybe it could warm people up a bit?
Jack: Sit at home with a glass of sherry and a nice roaring fire. I think that’s what we’re about.
I was going to ask how would you suggest people should listen to this record?
Jack: In their underwear.
Not a thong?
Jack: No, not a thong.
Ric: Thongs are okay, they’re fine. I mean, thongs are allowed, but, it’s not preferable.
Jack: I’ll be wearing mine.
Felix: Just being outdoors. Not in the sense of necessarily being outside, but maybe, like, going somewhere in a car, walking in the garden.
Jack: We’re described as comedown music quite a lot. Well, maybe once. Somebody definitely said like Valium music…
How does that sit with you?
Jack: It’s okay.
Felix: We’re not saying you necessarily have to be a drug addict to listen to us.
Jack: It just helps.
Felix: I once showed a track to a guy from Denmark and he said: “Man, I could listen to this when I’m having sex!”
That’s the dream, isn’t it?
Jack: I think baby-making music has got to be up there.
That mixture of baby-making, outdoorsy, driving, comedown music.
Felix: Don’t do them all at the same time.
Jack: On a comedown, having sex, outside.
Felix: In a thong.