Kelii - Obsessive Compulsive - Interview Exclusive Print
Written by Matt Phelps   
Friday, 30 April 2010 05:30




When the debut album from Manchester-based noiseniks Obsessive Compulsive turned up at ÜRHQ there were both raised eyebrows and horns - the sound howling out of the speakers blew us away. Highly opinionated and musically menacing is how we like our bands here at Über Röck and, believe me, this band fit the bill. Their strong independent spirit and zero idiot tolerance is akin to ours. We just had to get the lowdown on the band so we cornered vocalist Kelii and she came out swinging......




Could you introduce yourselves to the Über Röck Söldiers out there and give a brief explanation as to what it is Obsessive Compulsive are all about, and also how best you'd describe the music you create?


We're an angry, dark, noisy rock band, some people might say we're a bit metal, some say a bit punk, some say goth, some rock 'n' roll, we don't like to confine ourselves to any music genre in particular, we believe in working hard to promote our music and playing live as much1aobint3 as possible, we're certainly not bedroom noodlers!

You're a band whose list of influences runs as long as many telephone directories. But what would you say, as a group, are the top 5 albums that have shaped what Obsessive Compulsive are today, both attitude wise and of course musically?


Now THAT is a tricky one because we're all into different stuff and we argue frequently about bands that some of us love and some of us hate with a passion! The van iPod is ridiculously eclectic and meets with whoops and moans at the same time from various band members and crew. 5 albums I think have shaped us as a band off the top of my head would be.... 'Appetite for Destruction' -Guns N' Roses, 'Facelift' - Alice In Chains, 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts', 'River Runs Red' - Life of Agony, 'Electric Head' - White Zombie but if you asked me next week I may say 5 completely different ones and if you asked us as individuals they'd be completely different again!

Kelii, you're the band's sole lyricist. Could you give us a quick breakdown of some of your favourite lyrics from the new album and tell us where you get your inspiration?


My inspiration usually comes from feelings of anger or frustration, at my own life and at the world in general. I think anyone with any intelligence realises that we live in a world of chaos, violence, struggle, injustice and oppression. Even if you're pretty lucky in your own day-to-day existence it's difficult to ignore the plight of others. I tend to write from a beaten-down point of 1aobint5view because when I'm feeling like that it's comforting and cathartic to get out a pen and write. It's something I've always done to make sense of my thoughts. I usually write in first person because it comes naturally to me to do that, it's not always solely about me, but I find it easier to write about something when I put myself in the story.


The first line on the album 'You masturbate as we suffocate, but we will die with fire in our eyes and you with dollar signs...' I'm really proud of as an opening statement of intent, it sums up the struggle between the haves and have-nots, and those who put their hearts and souls into whatever they do versus those who are all about the money, who have no soul. I'm really offended by soulless commercial greed and I think the world is absolutely bursting with it these days.

My lyrics are pretty self explanatory, I don't write particularly cryptically but I do like to write in such a way that people can read their own struggle and concerns into it and take their own comfort and release from the words, even if they weren't originally written about what you may read into them. I have been disappointed so many times to find out that a song I thought was about drugs was actually about love, or a song I thought was about a wider social struggle was actually about an argument with a parent, (laughing), so I prefer not to explain too much!

So why haven't we seen Obsessive Compulsive taking the easy route in the industry and appearing on instant success TV talent shows? Why chose the long road of hard graft?


TV talent shows and the mindlessly grinning freaks they churn out are about as far as you can possibly get from the passionate, urgent, soulful music you will find in the underground scene which we're proudly a part of. We have absolutely no interest in the 'entertainment' produced by TV shows for grannies or having our music judged by a panel of overpaid 'celebrities'. The greatest artists lived in poverty and struggled their whole lives and it produced something more beautiful, real and relevant than anything ITV could ever, ever dream of. We're not comparing our humble music to great works of art, obviously, but we don't think anything is worth having unless you've fought for it.

Seven years is a long time to keep a band going all by yourselves. What are the strangest jobs any of you have had to do to keep the pennies coming in?


Our bassist Pete was and still is the best rent-boy in the UK, he's touched more penises than1aobint6 I've had hot dinners, fact, and luckily he really enjoys his work because music is unlikely to pay our bills any time soon!

You've set up your own label, Vociferous Records, so you could release your own album. Why? Wouldn't it have been easier to sign with an already established independent label and let them take some of the workload?


It's just something we wanted to do, a natural progression as we've always been very grass roots and DIY in our approach, we figured it was the easiest and quickest way of getting this album out there, rather than sending CDs out to all and sundry and waiting 6 months for a response, then waiting for a release date etc etc, we just wanted to cut out as many middle men as possible and get on with it. It's actually been a lot more complicated and difficult than we hoped but we've learnt a lot so far and have a real sense of achievement from doing things ourselves, it's much more rewarding. A lot of the bands and musicians we look up to have taken the route of setting up their own DIY labels, we're very inspired by the hardcore and punk scene and again, many record labels are run by money men and we didn't want to be a part of the machine. We wouldn't rule out licensing our stuff to other labels, particularly overseas, and we're not averse to having help in areas where other people have more expertise than we do, but we like to retain as much control over the life of our band and what happens to our music as possible.

Your album, 'Dreams Of Death And The Death Of Dreams', is coming out on May 10th. This will be a fresh release upon a country that will be coming to terms with life under a period of new Government (whichever side wins). Lyrically you deal with some social and moral issues but how politically motivated/concerned are you as a band? Is 1aobint8the election something that you feel is important and what would be the first major change you'd like to see made by the new Government that you think would alter the country as a whole for the better?


We're all intelligent socially and politically aware young people but, like our music tastes, our politics differ from individual to individual in the band and we certainly don't have a political agenda with our music. Most of our lyrics that touch on such subjects are rants against society and the system in general, if anything we're just against the idea of being bossed around by a man in a suit whose ideals are nothing like our own, whether that's a Prime Minister or a boss in some crappy job. We do think the election is really important, and it's essential that everyone use their vote, if only to vote against someone you really don't want in power, it's good that we have a choice, even if, as South Park so eloquently put it, "it's a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich!"

You've been at this game for a long time now, all geared up for the imminent release of your debut album. Looking back what would you say has been the highest point of your career so far? And what has been the lowest?


Everything so far has been a gradual uphill climb for us so the highest point is naturally where we're at right now, we're extremely proud of the album we've made, Russ Russell the producer did an amazing job and we love him to bits, we're thrilled to have something new to put out there as we've had a few line up setbacks over the years which have held us back, that's1aobint4 probably where the lowest points have come from, feeling like we're stuck and can't move forward when we've been a member down but this is the strongest line up yet and we're a big happy family at the moment!

We love Gig From Hell tales here at Über Röck - do you have any that you have either done or witnessed? Painful, hilarious or just outright embarrassing tales of horror?


We've done hundreds of gigs over the years and there's always a story to tell when we get home! Riot vans outside the venue, along with most of the crowd, in Yorkshire, blood-splattered merchandise from our merch people getting into fights with other bands, breaking down in the rain in the middle of the night and sitting on the side of the motorway for hours (more times than we care to remember), arriving at the venue after having driven for several hours only to find the venue has closed down and nobody bothered to tell us, trying to sleep upright in the van at services, mums and dads in the audiences of badly thought out bills with their fingers in their ears...welcome to the world of OC!

What have you got planned for the immediate future following the release of your album?


We just plan to play as many shows in as many places as we possibly can, at the moment we book pretty much all of our own gigs and we have about 20 UK dates in the pipeline for 1aobint7April/May, we also hope that we can step things up a bit this year and play some bigger tours supporting some cool bands that are more established than we are. We'd also love to get out to Europe or America and play, that's definitely on the wish list. We're very much a live band and as fun as recording, writing and rehearsing can be we live for the road and would be out there 365 days a year if we could!

What would you say to the lazier Über Röckers out there who might need some motivation to get out of their arm chairs and rock out with you live? Why should they come and check you out?


They should come check us out on tour, and do the same for other bands, because nothing compares to the live music experience, gigs are so much fun, such a buzz, something that listening to songs on MySpace or playing Guitar Hero at home will never compare with. For some crazy reason the underground music scene is really struggling at the moment, bands are splitting up and small venues are closing down all over the place, so many places we've had amazing times in are no more, it's tragic, but this CAN be prevented by people just leaving their houses and supporting the bands and promoters that are working so hard to put on great nights. These gig nights are cheap as chips, usually £5 or under, many of the gigs we do are even free entry, we put everything we've got into our live gigs and we'll give you a big sweaty hug afterwards too, bargain!