Club SAW will host not one but TWO greatly-underrated and unique rock bands Thursday night when NOBRO and the OBGMs co-headline a double-barrelled shot of punk at the intimate venue as part of their Stay Rad Tour.
The aforementioned uniqueness of these two bands comes not only from their sound, but their lineups, which distinguish them from your average punk band. The trio that composes Toronto’s OBGMs is two-thirds Black Canadians, with vocalist Densil McFarlane and drummer Colanthony Humphrey joined by guitarist Joe Brosnan.
Meanwhile, Montreal’s NOBRO lineup is, as their name implies, entirely women: vocalist and bassist Kathryn McCaughey, drummer Sarah Dion, guitarist Karolane Carbonneau, and keyboardist and percussionist Lisandre Bourdages. Listeners who delve into both their catalogues will appreciate that, in addition to the musical quality of their songs, both bands bring a fresh take to the genre, whether from diverse musical influences or their perspectives reflected in their lyrics.
The OBGMs’ newest album The Ends, released in 2020, features 10 punchy songs that range from catchy singles such as “All My Friends” and “Not Again” to intense hardcore tracks like “Triggered” and “WTFRU”. It’s faithful to the punk genre, yet fresh and experimental (yes, you did hear bongos in there).
NOBRO can boast of having played in town just a few months ago, opening for none other than Billy Talent and Rise Against in April, adding to the illustrious list of Canadian rock royalty they’ve already shared the stage with—a list that also includes PUP and Alexisonfire.
This combination on a double bill should make for a memorable night at SAW, and one that could live on in local lore as both bands continue their rise.
We had a chance to chat with NOBRO’s Kathryn McCaughey about the band’s last stop in town, their newest EP, and their tumultuous, pandemic-interrupted, meteoric rise over the past three years.
Apt613: Back in 2019, you were gaining a ton of attention, opening for bands like PUP and then Alexisonfire, and then the pandemic hit. What was that like for you?
Kathryn McCaughey: It was a very sobering moment. Reality has a way of interrupting life, and it is what it is. It was what it was. Everyone had to experience it all at the same time, and it was just such a bummer for live music. Some artists seem to manage with the constraints, like a lot of singer-songwriters, or anyone who can just pick up an acoustic guitar and play in their bedroom. So many people built their careers on TikTok. Unfortunately, being a live, loud band, you don’t really capture that in these prerecorded live sessions. So, it was just a bummer all around, but at the same time, we all took something from it.
But it’s all very fragile and unpredictable, and when you have good moments, you just take them. You’re just grateful for everything that happens. I think that’s what for us anyways, was the takeaway.
The initial Billy Talent dates were rescheduled as well?
We had Billy Talent dates lined up before COVID things were moving in this general direction, like everyone was getting really excited. And we were gearing up to release our first EP. But unfortunately, again life just has a way of interrupting you. The single of our first EP was called “Don’t Die” and we all got really nervous about releasing it during a fucking pandemic.
So we had to delay the release of our EP and then we just couldn’t really delay it anymore. We just had to put it out and we felt a little uneasy about it. If it wasn’t COVID times we would’ve been like, “fuck yeah, don’t die!” But we’re like, “oh, Don’t Die. Sorry!”
So you put out your first EP and couldn’t tour it. I guess you just spent most of your time back in the studio?
Yep! We recorded another EP in 2020, actually in the summertime. It took us a week and a half. And again, because it was COVID, we all had to like stay in our bubble, which was a pleasant side effect, I suppose. We all really were eating, breathing, and sleeping the second EP. It got released this past year, just because, again, COVID interrupting things. It was hard trying to plan shows or tours, and just the uncertainty in the future, whether or not we were going to be on the road or if we were on the road, whether shows were actually going to happen. So it’s been a very synchronized ballet of sorts, trying to release music with timing of shows.
So, now we have two EPs and we’re working our way into our full first-length album.
Now you’ve got the fun challenge of headlining a show. Given how much energy you expend, as fans can attest from your opening set for Billy Talent and Rise Against, now that you’re jumping into a headliner role, is that going to affect how much you can put out in terms of “going off?”
Oh, my God. Hell no! It’s like we’ve been preparing for this moment. It’s our time, it was the role that we were born to play. And every time we were the opening band, because our songs are so short we managed to play like 10 songs, but it doesn’t feel long enough for us. So we’re just excited to really be able to showcase what we’re capable of doing in more time.
Catch The OBGMs and NOBRO tonight at Club SAW (67 Nicholas Street). Tickets are $20 (plus fees). Doors open at 8pm, and the show starts at 8:30pm; 19+.