Raising An Empty Glass with Offend My Ego [INTERVIEW]
Offend My Ego talks about the less-fashionable ways of finding the perfect sound
Offend My Ego is a deadly concoction of fat guitars played through a blown speaker, cramped on top of well-crafted, in-your-face drum lines, complemented by powerful pick-bass as the words fly around you at their own pace. The band is every bit of the lounge act shown in their music video of Can’t Get Enough. As their producer A. K. Ratul puts it, a “garage band”, dirty yet polished, possibly served better with two pints of Guinness, or three.
Four guys based in London hopped on the bandwagon some two years ago to explore the contours of their emotions to find the right chord that makes all of them tick and dive deep within. With only three singles released and an astounding 15 more in the pipeline, their songwriting process was an obvious focal point. It is not every day we come across bands who comfortably write more than they release. So, when we met for the first time, all socially distanced and beamed to my screen, we kicked it off by exploring what really is the right chord, or in their case, what rumbles the floor.
“We are a jam-based band if that’s a term. We come in for rehearsals and just start playing – see where it goes. I think you can say it is part trial-and-error and part feeling right in the moment”, says Ranjan who plays guitar in the band. “Making music in this band is a lot about being present in the moment and figuring out a structure gradually. We turn Alex’s camcorder on and let it collect the bootlegs. Sometimes we end up with a 15-minute recording, sometimes even shorter – we go on until we find the parts we are looking for. We don’t sit in our houses and come up with interesting licks and tricks, there’s none of that happening” adds the frontman, Sam.
“So we take that 15-minute recording home with us and unpack the material, understand which are the good parts and what we unanimously agree on. We like to believe we are self-critical, and will call out where the bull went number 2, but there are times when it feels like cherry-picking!” says their drummer Tanim as he’s beamed to me from his London home. “We come in the next day and it’s the same process, even with a shorter structure”
“The only difference might be that we have a certain direction we go towards. It’s an organic process of feeding off of each other. Naturally, energies and the presence we bring is a crucial part of the process. For instance, Sam hums words over the songs while we are jamming and they often end up in the actual song because those impromptu words accurately captured the mood we were all in.
"More often than not, crafting a song is a lot about satisfying ourselves and that moment in time when things all fall effortlessly into a pocket – that’s special.”
Offend My Ego at Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden, in February 2020. Photographed by Alessia Rabaioili
It is surely not a feeling unheard of before. There are a plethora of bands lining up outside clubs wearing their strongest suit of rhythm and groove to shake things up from the ground below. What sets Offend My Ego apart from the rest is their eccentric ability to connect with the audience.
The band is a different animal on stage, mixing and making new lines to the old tunes as the groove boils even the coldest Budweisers. Their distinctive ability to capture different essences of industry rock into a unified whole is reminiscent of songs like "Everyday Is Exactly The Same" by Nine Inch Nails with a little dose of Korn's Falling Away from Me" on the active touch bass.
“I think it’s about what feels good to us first”, says Alex as he spoke for the first time. Previously, Alex served as a scream vocal to a nu-metal band before moving into Offend My Ego. The move was uncanny at best but appears to be a perfect fit as the band digressed, discussing how Franz Ferdinand frontman, Alex Kapranos, once said that he wanted to pick a bassist who was not a natural bass player, rather a seasoned guitarist so they can come up with unorthodox bass shapes and lines.
Reverting back to the point, Sam adds, “We never thought of labels and genres. To be frank, we don’t think we have completely explored our sound to set up shop somewhere and call it home. We rely on what feels right to us at the moment. The live gigs are also a large part of the trial-and-error process, in that we look for what’s moving the crowd and what’s simmering down. We bring such feedback home with us and make necessary changes if it feels right. We have 3 songs out, another 15 in the works and we can probably claim that it is progressively getting heavier.”
Mid last year, the band released their second single with a music video. Here’s a Behind The Scenes by Alessia Rabaioli
“At worst, you can say we didn’t put a lot of thought behind what genre we belong to. I don’t think it’s the right time to even think about that’, claims an introspective Ranjan. “London is a big city, and there are endless pubs hosting bands every other day. If you call up a punk gig, 20 bands will line up trying to play the same thing and successfully sounding exactly the same! You walk in on the seventh act and find them impressive, even though the first six and the next thirteen bands sound the same but it’s highly likely you will discard the rest as just another monotonous radio act". "Maybe, there is a utility of not knowing who we are as we constantly keep on searching for the elusive concept that defines the contours of our sound. Everyone says it’s a long and arduous process, but no one takes the time to explain the method of finding this incurable and metaphorical madness. If you think about it, our first two singles are sonically quite close to each other, but “Empty Glass” sounds different – both musically and lyrically. So, we surely can’t label ourselves right now and we definitely are searching for what to settle for. But to succinctly conclude this discussion, maybe we can rule out industrial rock for now.”
“We all had previous experiences with musical projects. Some even were tried-and-tested brands with a well-defined and meticulously outlined genre. But when the four of us enter the studio for rehearsals, we leave all our previous traces behind. The big talk about mechanisms is all parked at the door as we allow ourselves to project what we currently feel. So it can be rock, nu stuff, death metal, hip-hop, jazz, or blues, our primary motive is to use our diversity to create better. We think, to that end, it’s still going to be a long and arduous path, but that’s just how music is.”
What Offend My Ego gets right about music is that it is not fashionable. With minimal payoffs, bands simultaneously scour and wander to find what’s right for them, and if it fits the public frame then billboard placements is all just a glamorous extra. With a collective experience of more than 30 years making music, this new band based in London is unashamedly and unabashedly at it again – finding the right chord that ticks, and keeps on ticking.
Offend My Ego is in the unglamorous business of offending your ego. Rumbling the floors that already smell of rattling beer towers and whiskey sours, these four guys acutely focus on creating the outline of their sound, before naming the loving offspring. If in the process, they find personalized jet planes with their logo printed on it, as their drummer Tanim jokingly puts it, it will be what it really is - an extra.