I strolled up to Will McDonald, the bassist of Oh no! Oh my! after their set at the BANG! festival last weekend in Miami, and began chatting him up. Eventually this led to an interview with the whole goofy band, in which they shared jokes, their disdain for Prom Night (a punk dance band from Nashville) and their painful memories of not being able to book a show. Lead singer and guitarist Greg Barkley, drummer Joel Calvin, guitarist and keyboardist Daniel Hexmeier, McDonald and keyboardist and guitarist Tim Regan make up a bunch whose lives have picked up a measurable amount of speed since their days of going show-less.
Kristyn Caragher: When and how did the band evolve into its current state?
Greg Barkley: We started three years ago, and we changed names and styles a lot. We used to be a band named Poor York, which was very Radiohead-influenced and very experimental. I guess that we stopped because we were sick of making crazy music that was really depressing. Then we were like, “Let’s make happy music” – and then we did. Jolly Rogers (the new band) would actually still play music from Poor York. Then we just changed names to Oh no! Oh my! because Jolly Rogers was not a very good name and there were like 18 other bands with the name Jolly Rogers.
Joel Calvin: And they’d dress up in pirate gear and go play at Renaissance festivals. And it was just stupid, and we didn’t want to be with that crowd. So we became Oh no! Oh my!, and we’ve been playing badass music since.
KC: How long have you all known each other?
GB: The original three (Barkley, Calvin and Hexmeier) have known each other six years, maybe even more.
JC: I’ve known Daniel since I was in…
Daniel Hexmeier: Fifth grade!
JC: Yeah, fifth grade.
GB: And then we met Will and Tim in June, I think. So we’ve been playing in this band for like seven months ever since June and July.
JC: That would be five months. July, August, September, October, November.
GB: Like 16 months together (laughs)!
Yony Leyser: What was being in Austin, Texas, like?
JC: I haven’t lived there for seven or eight months, but we’re moving back after this tour.
GB: Austin is a really great city. It’s probably one of my favorites.
JC: If you move anywhere in Texas, you move to Austin or you’re an idiot. Everywhere else is not that great.
KC: So is that where you all are from?
GB: Born and raised.
JC: I was born and raised in Austin. It’s really fun, and it’s a good community. There is a lot of local stuff going on.
GB: Really, really good music scene in Austin.
KC: Are you well known there?
DH: No. The music scene there is really hard to break into.
GB: We couldn’t get shows. We played one show at a coffee shop, and we had to sign up to play.
DH: It was like an open mic.
GB: And we brought like all of our amps in there. And they were like, “What’s going on?” I think we even brought drums.
JC: I was so stoked, I was like, “Dude, we got a show!”
KC: Do you feel like you’ve gained a good amount of success over the past year?
Band in unison: Oh yeah!
JC: Before we were doing this, we were doing nothing.
GB: Really like…
KC: Basement shows?
JC: No, like a coffee shop show.
DH: We couldn’t even get shows.
GB: Yeah. We played our very first show in July. Ever since our very first show at the Knitting Factory this has become the band. We kind of, like, had other members for a little bit, changed a lot. Now this is the core band.
DH: We’ve had anywhere from three to 10 people playing with us.
KC: How did it end up with this five?
JC: The best of the best, man.
KC: Were you kicking people out?
GB: No, like everyone we played with over the summer, like our friend Andrew who we are good friends with, we asked him to help us out over the summer. We needed a keyboardist, and he was like, “Yeah.” He knew that he was going to be done in August or September. We didn’t kick him out. We couldn’t really afford six people at the moment.
DH: It sucks fitting six people in the van.
GB: On our three-week tour we had a trumpet player, and it sounded really cool, but we couldn’t afford it.
KC: Do any of you guys go to college?
GB: Me and Daniel went to college from January to September.
DH: Audio engineering school.
GB: And it actually hindered us from playing shows over the summer. We were like, “We can’t miss school, we want to graduate, and it’s really expensive.” So we did weekend shows. Playing for a weekend, like Lollapalooza.
DH: When we played at the Knitting Factory we left right after school, drove 16 hours straight to New York, played, slept two hours, then drove 16 hours back.
GB: We had a three-week tour at the end of August.
JC: We’ve had really good shows. Gnarls Barkley, Flaming Lips, Lollapalooza.
GB: We figured school is school. School is secondary now.
YL: What do all of your parents think of musicians and touring?
JC: They love it.
GB: All of our parents really support it.
KC: They come to shows?
JC: They flew to Los Angeles to see us play.
DH: They bought the trailer we have, and we’re paying them back for it.
GB: None of our parents have been like, “What are you doing? You’re going to wind up homeless on the streets. You’re an idiot.” They’ve always been like, “Yeah, go for it!”
JC: My mom told me, “If you don’t want to go to college, don’t go. You’re a great drummer.”
Will McDonald: Yeah, my dad didn’t say that.
GB: My dad didn’t say that either, but I got away with it going to an audio engineering school. I was like, “Dad, I don’t want a desk job five days a week.”
JC: Any other questions? We’ve got answers.
Tim Regan: You guys want some jokes?
KC: Is that how you warm the crowd up?
TR: Yeah. Tell a joke, we’ve gotta change a string.
KC: Is there anything else you want to say?
JC: I’m single. (Laughter.)
WM: Actually, we’re all single.
KC: Well, I don’t know how you can maintain a relationship while on the road.
JC: That’s the best part. You don’t have to. (Laughter.)