On our most recent podcast, we played a track by the Durham based band ONSIND called Pokemon City Limits, which demands to be heard. We also mentioned that Nathan from the band had kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions. Please feel free to read his thoughtful responses in the voice of Davey Stott (as demonstrated by Rebel Rikkit on the podcast) if you wish. The questions themselves should reflect a mixture of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cockney full the full live effect.
Anyway, thanks again to Nathan for his time and apologies for any upset Rebel Rikkit may have caused. Here is that Q&A in full.
Hello Nathan. How’s it hanging?
I’m good thanks for asking.
The band ONSIND is you and Daniel. Can you tell us how you started to make music together?
Well, we’ve known each other for a very long time, since we were little kids. We grew up on the same street in the same village called Pity Me in Durham. As teens we played in bands that played together a lot, ska and punk bands. Then about 7 or 8 years ago, we decided to do a band together, and this is it.
The band name often appears capitalised. Is it an acronym? How should we say it (“on – sind” or” oh-en-ess-eye-enn-dee”)? What’s it all about in any case?
Our name was originally ‘One Night Stand in North Dakota’, but that’s kind of an overly long, terrible name, with loads of weird connotations that don’t really fit (like, vague americana and sexual conquest). So we shortened it to Onsind, because that’s just a nonsensical made up word, with no real connotations (other than “what?”). So that’s our name.
Your songs have fantastic titles that don’t actually appear in the songs themselves. Do you start with a song title and write the song or the other way round?
The song names usually come after. Naming a song after the lyrical hook feels a bit boring, so we try and come up with names that are often (somewhat cryptically) related to the song.
Your music sits between Yuji Oniki and Orange Juice on my alphabetised shelves and to quote Edwyn Collins from 1994, there are ‘too many protest singers, not enough protest songs’ – how do you feel about that line 20 years after it was written?
I don’t really know what that means but it sounds good. Does he mean that there are people claiming to be protest singers who aren’t being political enough? Or is it just that the politics (and ‘issues’) should come before the ego of the individual? I don’t really have any strong feelings about the volume of protest singers/songs out there!
What moves you to write a song more – injustice or love? Why?
Injustice. We don’t really have any love songs. I find it hard to write love songs. Also I feel like there are enough love songs out there (especially sung by cis-men with acoustic guitars), I don’t have anything unique or interesting to add.
Might we see an ONSIND song about the current situation in Gaza?
It would be pretty hard to write a song about Gaza that would be sensitive to the nuances of the situation. I’m involved with a charity in Durham called the Durham Palestine Education Trust which raises money to pay for Palestinians to come and study in Durham, and promotes peace and justice for Palestinians. We’ve raised money for DPET in the past through downloads and such (and recently, selling records). That’s probably a more constructive way for us to engage with the conflict. The whole situation breaks my heart and boils my blood.
Who is a more hateful figure Tony Blair or David Cameron? Why?
That’s like asking which head of the Hydra is worse. They’re all parts of the same monster. We need to destroy the whole thing, from the ground up.
Who do you consider a hero? Why?
Having heroes isn’t really very anarchist, but if I had to pick someone Audre Lorde would be up there. For her writing, and providing a political analysis that left room for poetry, emotion and passion. Others might be Kurt Vonnegut for writing some of my favourite books. Alison Bechdel, for the same reasons. Musically, Paul Heaton and Billy Bragg are big influences on me. No one is perfect though, and generally I try not to put anyone on a pedestal.
What 3 songs would appear on the soundtrack to your life?
This changes on an almost daily basis. I’ve been listening to ‘Up The Junction’ by Squeeze a lot lately, since Pete Dale covered it at Indietracks. It’s pretty much a perfect song. Tight as a drum, funny, sad, total kitchen sink drama. Great music, heartbreaking. I guess, on a similar theme ‘Old Red Eyes is Back’ by the Beautiful South- a song about an alcoholic looking back on the wasted potential of his life. It’s brilliant. Being straight edge, the relevance to me might not be immediately apparent, but as a storytelling song I love it. Also, I can relate to feeling like I’ve wasted my life. And, I guess sticking to the theme of story songs, ‘Over and Done With’ by the Proclaimers. But that’s just this week. Ask me again next week.
Which band would you have liked to have been a part of? Why?
Fleetwood Mac- Buckingham era. Maybe not. But it would have been nice to have been a fly on the wall during the making of Rumours.
Which other current bands should we be listening to?
Oh god loads. Keeping it limited to poppy UK based stuff there’s No Ditching, Spook School, T-Shirt Weather, Chrissy Barnacle, Twisted, Jesus and His Judgemental Father, Martha (our other band) plus tonnes of others I’ve forgotten that I’ll kick myself about in five minutes.
Oh, and the Trust Fund/Joanna Gruesome split that’s about to come out on Reeks of Effort is gonna be amazing! Buy it.
Cricket – cool as fuck or a load of old bollocks?
I have no strong feelings about cricket! Never played it, or watched it, but I’m sure there must be something good about it, if people play it all over the world. Or maybe it’s politically fucked up in some way I don’t know about. I prefer rounders.
You’re in a caff ordering breakfast. You can have tea or coffee and toast. What are the first three other items you will order?
Linda McCartney Sausages, Baked Beans and fried Mushrooms.
My son, Kicker Jr, was well impressed that we will be playing a song that name-checks Pokemon (at least in the title). This is his question: which pokemon city do you prefer – New Bark or Pallet?
Daniel would be better at answering this! I guess Pallet Town, because, as I remember it, it’s your hometown, and we’re hometown kind of people.
Can you tell us a little about how the song Pokemon City Limits came about?
Well, prepare to be confused/bored. Propagandhi had an album called ‘Potemkin City Limits’, which is incredible. Then on their next album (Supporting Caste), they had a song called ‘Potemkin City Limits’ about Francis, a pig who escaped from a slaughterhouse. It’s a wonderful, heartbreakingly amazing true story and the song is a tribute to Francis. The idea of a Potemkin city is one of a hollow visage, concealing a horrifying reality.
Our second album was called ‘Dissatisfactions’, but on our next album (Anaesthesiology), we have a song called ‘Dissatisfactions’. That comes from a Sylvia Plath poem called Elm (‘is it the sea you hear in me? It’s dissatisfactions?’- which we use in our song ‘Suicide is Painful’). I’ve used the term ‘dissatisfactions in a few songs in connection with the recurring theme of depression and sadness (bubbling away beneath a visage of presentability- like bodies buried beneath the street). Seeing as Propagandhi were being intertextual with their songwriting, and so were we, we thought it’d be cool to have a meta-intertextual reference to the Propagandhi album/song- hence ‘Pokemon City Limits’. Also, crucially, the main character in our song, Chelsea, is playing on her gameboy and not really paying attention (distracted by a hollow visage). But her grandfathers anger breaks her out of it. It’s a metaphor for political awakening. It takes place in 91′ so she can’t technically have been playing Pokemon, but never mind- it makes sense to me.
You are, I believe, currently on tour. Can you tell our listener where he/she might be able to catch you?
We are doing a run of shows with Chris Clavin (from Ghost Mice). August 28th-September 2nd- details on our facebook page. We also might be playing Get Cape Wear Cape Fly’s last ever Nottingham show on September 3rd. Hopefully there’s more in the pipeline too!
The album Anaesthesiology came out in 2013 – have you got anything in the pipeline for this or next year?
We both play in a band called ‘Martha’, who released an album earlier this year (marthadiy.bandcamp.com)- we’re both really really exicted about that and we’re trying to tour with that band and push that a bit. Onsind will hopefully do a 7″ at some point next early year, and maybe even do a Euro tour if we can swing it.
Many thanks for taking time to talk to us. Will you come and play in Liverpool soon?
We’d love to. We’ve not played there since December 2013. Would be great!
You can find out more about Nathan’s bands on the following sites (and you really should).