The Ohmz are a reggae/ska/vaguely jazzy band from the Isle of Wight, describing themselves as “Think if Bob Marley had covered White Stripes. Now throw in some of The Clash, and a touch of Sublime. Serve with a generous portion of warm harmonious horns.” After an astounding set on the main stage at Bestival, I sat down in the artists’ tent with all 8 members of The Ohmz to talk local music, being invited to play the Castle Stage, and their upcoming album.
How are you finding Bestival?
It’s a little bit wet but we’ve done worse festivals where it’s been really boggy! But yeah, it’s been good.
What’s been your favourite thing about it so far?
Probably just playing the main stage, that was a good experience.
How did it feel being invited to play the Castle Stage?
We actually only found out about four and a half weeks before this weekend, we got booked back in January to play the Invaders [of the Future]Stage and then one of the organisers emailed us and asked if we would be able to do the Friday on the main stage, it felt amazing really. It’s a massive privilege to come and play here, considering that it used to be on the Isle of Wight, it’s like they’ve also brought a bit of the island with them.
What did you all do before you were in the band?
I’ve been doing music pretty much all my life, we’re just pure music people.
Obviously like you mentioned, Bestival is no longer on the Isle of Wight – how has that affected the music scene?
The island has always had a good music scene, there are some good bands that came out like The Bees, we’ve got various people who live on the island who we know from quite big bands, and there are also quite a few small, independent music festivals such as Rhythmtree, V-Dub which is a car show – they all support the local music scene as well as getting bigger acts to come over. Isle of Wight Festival is more a commercial festival than anything else, there’s one stage that does focus on local talent and then another one for the local college. There is a lot of support for the local music scene, but a lot of the venues have closed down recently, we’ve probably got about three main music venues on the whole island.
What is it like playing on the island?
The band’s been going about eight years with various different members, so the drummer and the bassist joined and we did this gig on the seafront in the middle of nowhere. When we walked into the venue we doubled the amount of people who were in there. I think there were five people in there and six of us came in! But that was early days, there’s a pub called The Anchor in Cowes that is just filled to the brim at every single gig we do there, so it’s nice to have a lot of the fanbase on the island. But an island’s an island, so we’re now trying to focus on pushing out the mainland a little bit more, trying to get onto some gigs around London, Bristol, Southampton. We’re playing The 1865 on 4th November with Big Top for their last ever show.
How did you guys get into reggae?
I’ve been listening to it since I was little, my mum used to listen to it when she cleaned the house. Our bassist has been in reggae bands before, I think we’ve all done spots of reggae – it’s just the purity of the music and the message of it. Most genres just speak about whatever they like but with reggae it’s more meaningful, and it also is usually fun and upbeat and gets everyone dancing.
Is there anything you can tell me about your upcoming album, Positivity?
We’ve got ten tracks on the album – some of us have actually completely finished recording, there’s a dude who lives on the island called Rick Stanbridge, we’re recording it in his house. We’re also working with an amazing producer Tim Charlton, and we’re hoping to get a few other guys on board. We’re near enough halfway through the recording process, and then we’ve got to go through the production and marketing side of things. Hopefully, we can get it out by Christmas as a nice Christmas present – I don’t want to promise that, we may have to push it back ready for the summer, but it’ll definitely be out within a year’s time!
Check out title track for Positivity below: