Interview with AJ Reeves of Ourfamous Dead

By Gavin McQuarrie

The past year has seen many bands emerge to grab firm attention and distinct acclaim for their sound. One such band that has easily garnered praise is UK electro rockers Ourfamous Dead. Their debut single and the following I Am Human EP brought them impressively into hungry ears and the eager focus of a great many, something their  forthcoming new single Claws at the Door should easily increase. We had the chance to let fly at band founder, songwriter, and vocalist AJ Reeves with questions to find out more about the band and their music.

Hi Guys, many thanks for chatting to us.

First of all can you introduce the band?

Hi there, the live band consists of Simon Green on Bass and Vocals, Robin Speight on Drums and vocals, Rich Jennings on guitar and vocals, Callum Knight on guitar and myself (AJ Reeves) on vocals.

How long has Ourfamous Dead been going and how did it all start?

Ourfamous Dead is coming up to 3 years. It started with myself writing and recording songs in my bedroom then taking it to a live situation with a live band. We then took to the local scene. Since then I relocated to Leeds to take everything to a larger audience.

Is the band your first musical endeavours?

I suppose it isn’t really, I’ve played classical piano since I was around 6 years old and I’ve played in a few small local bands prior to Ourfamous Dead.

The band name makes one think of people who have gained more fame and acclaim after their demise, but what is the story behind the name?

It passed the two week test. The worst thing about a band is creating a band name. Basically I figured if you write it down and come back to it at a later date, if it doesn’t suck as much as the others then it’s the one.

Your music is quite distinct combining elements of punk, hardcore and electronica. What are the major influences that have helped you arrive at your finished sound?

Firstly I wouldn’t say this is our finished sound. There’s going to be a lot on the album that’s different from anything we’ve done before in terms of sound and arrangement. What’s led to the sound of the work that’s out there at the moment primarily is a mix of the stuff I was listening to at the time. I was trying to establish the band and gain a fanbase so I guess I was trying to fit in with a specific music genre or scene. I don’t regret that but it is not the way I want the band to continue.

You sit between and link the likes of Enter Shikari, Silent Descent and The Browning whilst offering a punk infused energy to set you apart. How do you see yourselves though?

It is strange, by the time I’ve recorded a song I’m usually sick of it so looking back in retrospect is pretty difficult. At the moment I would just say we’re different. Especially if you come to a live gig. We’re currently only playing 3 of the songs we’ve released. The rest are new and completely different but still very much us.

You are about to release your new single Claws At The Door, a formidably excellent song. Tell us about the song and its background.

Basically this song is around 2 years old. I wrote it first as a piece of music with no lyrics, so primarily it had no meaning at all and it was only a “thing”. The band then learnt the music and we began playing it live and I would just make up lyrics for it at each gig. As the lyrics developed it became more apparent it was about the duality of man. And that is essentially what it is. I only finished the lyrics for the song when I was stood in the vocal booth laying down the vocals. That’s your OFD fact of the day.

How has your music evolved since your debut promo a year ago through to this new release?

A heck of a lot. I am human was written almost three years ago (claws at the door isn’t too far behind that either) and I’ve already had a lot of material for the album and beyond. I basically wanted to test the water with I am Human to gauge the response it received. I was pretty happy even though I view the EP as being somewhat immature. I felt the need to write songs that were aimed at a specific genre. I looked at popular bands at the time and aimed to write songs that they could have written. It is not exactly what I wanted to do but I figured it would build an audience. Now I am writing stuff that people aren’t ready for and I’m slowly breaking that sound into our music. The debut album will be a transitional album. What comes after that will define us. or so I feel.

How are your songs constructed from seed to the finished result?

I often come up with the music first. Lyrics are definitely last.

Your outstanding EP I Am Human took you to the awareness and acclaim of many new fans and the media such as magazines like Rocksound. Obviously all bands hope this will be the case with each release but did it exceed your hopes the response you got?

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from it. Id chosen those four songs with diversity in mind. A kind of showcase of the different routes the band could take. As I said earlier I was testing the water with it. I have so much material written and nothing properly released so I just drew a line under it and thought we needed to start somewhere. At the same time I didn’t want to select some of the newer material. Who wants to ride the fastest rollercoaster at the theme park first? the rest will seem substandard after that. That’s exactly what I did with I am Human.

Live you have shared stages with the likes of The Blackout, Funeral For A Friend and Gallows, which shows the varied styles you can easily sit alongside. Is there a certain crowd other than your own fans of course that take to your music over others?

I’m not entirely sure. We definitely don’t go down well in Castleford. We accidentally played a gig there some time ago and the people In attendance didn’t know what was going on. We played four songs, nearly got into a fight and left.

As you mentioned earlier there is an album in the works. Is there a date for its release yet?

As of yet, no. I don’t want to put a date on it because I don’t want to release anything sub standard again. Even though a lot of the songs are there, they are still being crafted. That as well as funding. I don’t want anything to leave that isn’t industry standard. To get that standard isn’t cheap and funding a band as a student is difficult. Even between the five of us  is still tough and we’ve done a lot recently. We just bought a van for the tour and the video single package was done too. At the moment we are waiting to see where we are after the tour to see when we can commit to a date.

What treats and new things will we find within album walls?

Less hardcore influence, darker synths and percussion, same accessibility.

You are about to start a UK tour with The Sun Explodes, another favourite here. It should be one explosive and thrilling series of shows. The anticipation for you must be high?

Indeed, we actually played our first gig the other night, it was great. The final night is pretty close to my home town (and is TSE’s home town) so it should be busy. I am looking forward to seeing some old faces and of course the TSE lads are awesome guys.

You have a reputation for lively and high intensity gigs; this is the arena you really enjoy as a band?

It is indeed. Its great writing music to go together in the studio but afterward we have to re map everything so it works live. It is an exciting prospect bringing all the songs to a live audience and we really love doing it!

In a time where more and more show promoters only put on bands who guarantee fan attendees, how have you found it to this point trying to play to more and more people?

It is an uphill struggle, constantly. 90 percent of promoters don’t care if you’re the best underground unsigned band in the world. They would rather have a covers band play if it meant  50 ticket sales than support real music. Everything is a popularity contest these days. “Tag your band on here and get all your chummy mates to “like” us and your post. The band who gets 10000000 likes (and get people looking at our Facebook page) can play.”

It is backwards. We hate spamming shit everywhere because we know people get sick of it. We therefore have to do things the hard way. The old fashioned way. Get out there, play your music, get a real following. Your music speaks for itself that way.

Most promoters don’t even promote anymore. The amount of people who say “yeah you can play, how many ticket sales?”. We’ve done a few of these before and the promoter hasn’t done anything. One of them literally just left the bands to it. No posters, no advertisement, nothing apart from a Facebook status half an hour before the gig. The two bands that played did all the promoting, brought their fans through and made the promoter his money.

How do you feel about the internet and its wider base for music, something that brings great positives and equally large negatives?

Yes basically the internet has given the modern musician a medium for getting their name and music out there. In that respect it is great, its free. The other side of the coin is, it is now nearly impossible to make money out of your product, your music. People can get your music for free one way or another and CDs are pretty much obsolete. If you can’t stay ahead of the game and think of other ways to keep people interested, you are always going to fall behind. Basically the good and the bad cancel each other out in my opinion. We embrace the good but don’t rely on it. We still do things the way bands always have before the internet. This was good old fashioned hard work. Get out there constantly gigging, getting our heads down out in the cold flyering etc….

After the tour and working on the album, do you have more in store for the rest of the year?

More gigs, more records, possibly another music video.

And hopes?

Some funding would be nice, as would someone to back us. Someone in the industry who believes in what we’re doing.

Again thank you for taking time to talk with us and good luck with the tour and single.

Would you like to end with any last words for your growing army of fans?

Thanks for the continued support!

Read the I Am Human EP review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/ourfamous-dead-i-am-human/

And the Claws At The Door review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/ourfamous-dead-claws-at-the-door/

The Ringmaster Review 17/04/2012

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