Roll back nearly two years to a small room in a house in Belfast Northern Ireland. Toying with ideas and pushing all the buttons on their keyboards led duo Rocky O’Reilly and Shaun Robinson, otherwise known as Oppenheimer, to fall into a sound that the BBC called “all poetic and blip-tastic.” After looping, cutting and recording enough tracks, they soon started playing in local clubs. Encouraged, they started sending music to their favorite labels, Bar/None Records being the first. In the six months that it took an intern in the Hoboken office of Bar/None to dig their CD from a pile, the two had continued writing and recording two minute slices of pop, and were making friends at home. They played shows with acts like Ash, Architecture In Helsinki, Tilly & The Wall and The Bravery and were proclaimed to be “immensely watchable pop-peddlers‚” by the Belfast Telegraph.
By the start of 2006 Oppenheimer put the final synthesizer bleeps on their debut album. After completing a session with guest vocalist Tim Wheeler of Ash. A limited edition, hand printed 7” was released in the UK in April, selling out quickly. Bar/None released the album on June 6th, followed by releases in Australia, Japan and Thailand. What followed was hundreds of shows, sixteen weeks of touring in the states and another sixteen in Europe that helped Oppenheimer hone their lush electronic pop sound.
At the same time their tracks began finding their way into television shows like How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty and commercial campaigns for Fujifilm and Nike, switching even more people onto this Irish two piece.
Oppenheimer were then invited by They Might Be Giants to tour North America, before returning to Ireland to record again
Rocky O'Reilly - Guitar, Keys & Vocoder
Shaun Robinson - Drums & Vocals
This Racket Takes its Toll
After five years, two albums, a total of seventy-weeks of US tours, TV shows, radio sessions, long drives, loud nights and only one fist fight, Oppenheimer is leaving their fans with one last project to cement their legacy. This Racket Takes It's Toll will be released on Bar-None Records on July 31, 2012.
It's not every day that a band releases an album when the band is no longer together, however that's exactly what the Irish duo Oppenheimer have done with their latest release aptly titled This Racket Takes It's Toll. Members Shaun Robinson and Rocky O' Reilly met each other in the underground music scene in Belfast, Ireland and formed Oppenheimer in 2004 with Shaun on drums, lead vocals, and air horn and Rocky on guitar and synths.
Oppenheimer enjoyed a stroke of luck after Bar-None Records intern Ray Weiss pulled their demo from a pile of unsolicited material. The whole staff was especially taken with a piece of pulsing ear candy called "Breakfast in NY". An album was completed and released in the summer of 2006. Magnet Magazine described their debut as "Brimming with M83-like synth squalls and a squeaky clean pop sheen, Oppenheimer's self-titled debut kicks with motoric insistence." "Breakfast in NY" spread it's magic and was used in popular television shows like How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, and Ugly Betty.
The band was soon discovered by They Might Be Giants (who also got their start on Bar-None). TMBG invited them to be their opening act for months of touring. They would also open for OK Go and Presidents of the USA.
This Racket Takes It's Toll was recorded all over the world. It was sewn together in Belfast and at New York's Atomic Heart Studio. Final bells and swooshes were slinked atop in hotel rooms across Europe and North America. Standout tracks include the blip-tastic "42nd Century", as well as a space age anthemic closer "We Ride Invisible Roller Coasters." There's also a cover of Charles Douglas' "Earlybird School".
Rocky rocks on as an in-demand sound engineer in Belfast and Sean is living in NYC where he still enjoys breakfast all the time.
Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It
The dynamic duo are set to release their sophomore long player for Bar/None, brazenly titled Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It. We ask, is it a shot at the shallow pre-fab pop machine, a heady and complicated insight to their own sound engineering techniques or are Rocky and Shaun going macro, rendering a title that we’re supposed to take as a metaphor for Life on Earth?
The new record embraces some pretty esoteric themes: politics? fireworks in New Jersey and Cate Blanchett impersonators to name a few. But they’re certainly not all above the neck. The band’s soaring, visceral approach is pure pop for now people, winning the love of friends, fans and press alike-- Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol proclaiming, “Oppenheimer are like the Irish Flaming Lips or Mates of State. It’s extremely rare for a band from Belfast to have that otherworldly sound. They’re an incredible new band.” Alternative Ulster Magazine voted the band #1 Most Likely To Succeed Amongst Irish Music Professionals and Ireland’s Hot Press has said, "Their warm electro pop make Oppenheimer stand apart in a city dominated by dreary guitar bands.” And it hasn’t only been the obvious giving the duo their props, "I am stoked and thankful to have been a part of this record," says Matt Caughtran of thrash-punk godheads The Bronx who lent his voice to the appropriately heavy handed “The Never Never.”
The other 11 songs embody Oppenheimer’s trademark epic synth and guitar driven pop, but introduce a more obvious mandate to rock hard. While the album kick off “Major Television Events,” is reminiscent of “Breakfast In NYC” from their 2006 self-titled debut, the step up to a poignant grind is undeniable. Scribe Gordon Matthews even said, "Look Up may be Rocky and Shaun's 'Born to Run.'" The aforementioned “Cate Blanchett” is a vast pop soundscape, “Support Our Truths” harnesses a sweet, memorable melody in classic Oppenheimer form and “Only Goal And Winner” slides from a swirling haze of synths and chorale voices before locking into a beat that takes it to another level of pop ingenuity. And that’s just to describe a few. But why dance about architecture?
In a few short months, (June, to be exact), Oppenheimer’s Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It will be released on Bar/None Records. Hang tight till then. The band will be joining They Might Be Giants for another string of North American dates come February, so we’ll keep you posted on that.
Oppenheimer started up in November 2004. Recording lush, multi-layered music was initially their escape from a rainy Irish winter. The two-piece had met at indie rock shows in their hometown of Belfast and one night over some cold beers at an Icelandic electronica show they realised that they shared a love of kraut-rock, synthesizers and soundscapes. A 'play date' was duly arranged and they soon realized they shared another love; pop music! Writing summer-pop songs took their minds to other places, the neon sparkle of Times Square, the blue skies of California... they suddenly felt a lot brighter about their hometown.
Winter turned to Spring and they started to play their pop to others. Encouraged by the smiles, they took their songs to the stages of local clubs, winning hearts of the local indie kids. The Belfast Telegraph proclaimed Oppenheimer are "immensely watchable intelligent-pop peddlers." They recorded a session for BBC Radio, played at a Belfast summer festival, and opened up for bands like The Chalets and Architecture In Helsinki. Their song "Breakfast in NYC," was singled out by the the BBC for being "all poetic and blip-tastic" and DJ David Holmes couldn't believe the sound that was coming out of his hometown. He generously offered them a number of his knobs and pedals to help them mix their album. A chance encounter with a Mosquitos CD in an Amoeba listening station gave them the idea to send Bar/None a sample of their music. In September they were delighted to learn that Bar/None Records were as intoxicated by Oppenheimer's indie pop as Oppenheimer were by Bar/None's cavalcade of stars.
That brings us up to the latter part of 2005 which saw Oppenheimer collaborating with Tim Wheeler from Ash and finishing up the recording of their Bar/None debut which was released in June 2006.
In May 2006 UK indie label Small Town America released a single by Oppenheimer and the duo will play as many shows as they can, wherever they can. They hope you dance and jump and sing along, they might even let you play shaker! - THEY WON'T.