Oi Boys: punk, noise and post-punk lisergicity from Metz
di Giovanni Panetta
Interview with Bastien Champenois about the French quartet from Metz Oi Boys: the beginning, last record, live activity, etc...

Oi Boys self-titled album cover, by Pierre Henri.

Oi Boys is a French quartet (from Metz, in the Grand Est region) formed in 2018 by Bat (vocals/synth), Val (vocals/guitar), Alex (bass) and Bstn (drums). Their sound is characterized by a traditional punk texture and a certain lisergicity which owes to post-punk culture or more broadly to noise rock (the Bat synth has a peculiar role in their poetry); moreover everything is dominated by a decadent feeling in the sign of a obscure esistentialism with wavering political shades.

In particular, the self-titled album (released by La Face Cachée and Hidden Bay Records in September 2022) is permeated by a certain musical balance; for example talking about some tracks, 200km/h appears more suspended, and the following Jack Palance offers a certain melodic climax which oscillates between two polarities of punk spectrum: oi and post-punk genres, a dichotomy that is the most relevant leitmotiv in their musical effort.

Let’s talk about Oi Boys and their music, self-titled work, tour activity through the following interview with Bstn (Bastien Champanois).

So, let’s start from your beginning; how was your punk/post-punk sound born and this  creativity in the sign of darkly reverberated timbers and constant rhythms? 

Everything started when Val (guitar player and singer) offered to Bat (keyboard and  singer) an old second hand keyboard he found on a flee market. Bat already had some ideas for tracks and lyrics. So he started playing that keayboard  and ask Val to join him in giving a life to these musical ideas. The possibility to work on something completely different from what they use to do drove them into an intense composing time. It took them 3 years to get to the album!

It’s interesting the “Oi Boys” name; the reference from oi punk music is not casual and  combines itself perfectly with your writing and the associated volunteer to create violent  and powerful hymns in a punk/hardcore sense. Do we share this description? 

The name started as a joke for a virtual band that would have been a vocal choir singing old punks anthems in the street to make money during hitch hike holidays in Germany. But yes, even if the sound and lyrics are poetical, they are filled with hanger, anxiety and violence.

The self-titled album of 2021 has recurrent elements but it’s peculiar in the relative melodic composing. The lyricism is dominant, but a strong, virile power has a main role too. It  seems the spirit of post-punk is recalled, with an intelligent and fervid variability of all the music characters. There’s the Metz sound (Le Singe Blanc, and Daikiri obviously) but there could be La Grande Triple Alliance Internationale de l’Est contemporaneously. Anyway, a local idea that looks forward to the French borders is not only hypothetical for the elastic  texture of this release. So, how do you see this dichotomic aspect in your music? 

Our music if filled with what we are as human beings. We all are full of paradoxes, enjoying many different things. It might explain this dichotomy.

Oi Boys

Oi Boys live, on the stage from left to right: Val, Bstn, Bat and Alex.

La Liste is interesting in its composition, which appears ethereal through its periodic patterns whereas it sounds like a fist in your face. More than the others, it has a radio friendly form in addition to the political (broadly speaking) / introspective element. How the concept of the piece was born and what are the points of reference? 

This tracks talks about some guy who, for no real reason, wasn’t ready to share his  contact list to people who needed help to book tours. This got us thinking about such a kind of behavior that leads to a merit-based way of acting. In a DIY scene where mutual aid is the rule, why would you keep everything for yourself?

Rhythmic and math experimentation don’t miss, in fact, Tes Mortes Idoles has a more robotic and complex structure in that sense; Bastien Champenois is in one of his best performances, with his oscillating motorik groove. I’m thinking of the more plastic drumming in the past Daikiri duo or Dalida, but here your drummer shows to be versatile in periodic and powerful but iced drumming. So, Bastien, tell us about your different approaches to music and in particular the comparison with your effort in Oi Boys. 

As you said, playing constrained music has always drove me up. It reminds me  constrained writing for books, it creates something stronger than usual books. Same thing happens with music. The less you do, the more powerful it sounds, giving the audiance’s  brain more time to travel throught space and time!

Managing to give human feelings to a drum machine is for me a very exiting challenge.

In the end, tell us about the next news about national/international concerts or tours, and what we will expect from the next album. 

Bat and Val already have composed some new tracks, we actually play two of them live  since a few months.

As they did for the first album, the next one will also be written and recorded by Bat, Val and some machines and then played lived with Alex (bass) and me. So far, nobody really knows when it might be released, but next June could be a good option…

We had the chance to tour in Greece with Bait, an incredible punk-hardcore band from Spain, last may. After our summer tour which included some nice festivals in France (Motocultor, Cabaret Vert,…) we’ve been touring 10 days around central europe in September. Playing shows in cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Berlin, and so on… It was really great, cheers to Atomçk (grindcore from UK) that we met in Berlin, Wieze Fabryk from Łódź (PL) who shared the stage for two concerts with us, Bronco Libre and all the bands  we met.

Thanks for your interest, hope to see you on tour some day! We have no social network  page neither proper website… to find our tour dates, only one place: Bandcamp! By the way, this great platform is in trouble after being sold a second time to a big company, more infos here.

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